Although many studies have been carried out regarding the acquisition of Spanish as a second language, very few have focused on the acquisition of Spanish vowels. Studies that have compared the L2 production of Spanish vowels in learners who have spent an extensive time living abroad versus at home learners are scarce at best. The present study hopes to add to the literature by comparing the L2 pronunciation of the Spanish /a/ in these two groups using an acoustic analysis with the aid of speech-signal processing software and the inclusion of a native group for comparison. In addition, it hopes to provide insight into how these groups vary in their pronunciation of the Spanish /a/ in different tasks. Three tasks were administered—an oral interview, the reading of a short story, and the reading of a word list—whose range varied by less formal to more formal, respectively. The tokens were analyzed using Praat to find the F1 and F2 value at the midpoint of each. The results indicate that those who lived in a Spanish-speaking country for an extensive period of time (RM) demonstrated a significant difference (p<0.05) between their production of the Spanish stressed /á/ and the unstressed /a/ in the oral interview and short story tasks, but did not show a significant difference in the more formal word list task. The at-home (AH) group, who had spent no more than three weeks in a Spanish-speaking country, displayed a significant difference (p<0.05) between the two tokens in all three tasks. It was found that the RM group displayed a significant difference (p<0.05) in F2 values between it and the native speaker (NS) group in one of the tasks, indicating that language transfer was present in both its stressed and unstressed tokens of the Spanish /a/. Interestingly, the native Spanish-speaking group also displayed a significant difference (p<0.05) between its production of the stressed /á/ and the unstressed /a/ in the short story task.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



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Keywords: Spanish, second language acquisition, vowel acquisition, centralization, schwa, task type, Spanish centralization