jueves, 13 de agosto de 2015

Report on the Phonetics Teaching and Learning Conference (#PTLC2015) at UCL. August 5-7th, 2015 - Part 3

This is my last report on PTCL 2015. My two previous posts discussed Day 1 and Day 2, including links to all the live tweeting and the programme, so you can visit this page to read about them, and about other events I have reported on.

I have tried to link to the author's webpages/institutional affiliations whenever possible so that you can contact them, or Google their work and learn more about what they do.

(Once more, just in case, I would like to remind you that any unintentional misinterpretation of the work on the presenters is my fault, so my apologies to you for any errors!)

Day 3 of PTLC kicked off with Andrej Stopar and his study on Slovenian speakers of English and their perception of four vowels, one of which was the "pretzel" (loved it!) vowel /æ/. Surprisingly (for my context, that is), his perception tasks rendered better results for /ʌ/ and /ɜ:/ over /e/ and /æ/.

Janice Wing Sze Wong discussed the results of her high variability phonetic training study on English vowels 1 and 2 with her Cantonese-speaking students. Her analysis was mostly acoustic, and based on formants 1 and 2, and on duration (which I thought highly relevant for this pair of vowels!).

Josefina Carrera-Sabaté, Imma CreusBellet and Clàudia Pons Mol presented a fantastic set of resources to learn Catalan: El Sons del Català and Guies de pronunciaciò del Català . They have done a great job with the websites, which have really enticed me to start learning Català!

Pavel Trofimovich, Sara Kennedy and Josée Blanchet presented a truly inspiring paper on speech ratings on fluency, comprehensibility and accentedness for learners of French as L2. I have been Googling their research papers, as they have done really interesting work on interlanguage issues in terms of phonology and phonological awareness, among other things. They have made some thoughtprovoking observations regarding the segmental, suprasegmental and fluency aspects that may have affected the raters' assessment of their samples of learner speech: accentedness ratings were lower when intonation choices were accurate and pitch range narrower; and the same features had a positive effect on fluency and comprehensibility, added to longer speech-runs and fewer hesitations. I would personally be interested in replicating this study in my context, somehow.

Shinichi Tokuma and Won Tokuma brought the conference to a close with a very interesting study on the perception of /p, b/ and robustness in terms of babble noise for Japanese learners of English. Among other things, they have found that improved L2 perception in their subjects was inversely related to the signal-to-noise ratio of the stimuli, and that /p/ was more robust to noise in all their experimental conditions.

We had a great "bonus track" session, right after lunch, with Nobuaki Minematsu from the University of Tokyo. He delivered a fantastic presentation on World Englishes and intelligibility. His talk discussed the basic difficulties we may encounter when trying to grasp the complex idea of what mutual intelligiblity really is and entails, especially in terms of its diversity. His ongoing project is aimed at finding a way of measuring intelligibility objectively (via matrixes and a few really complex ways entirely beyond my engineering-blind mind!) and somehow predicting possible intelligibility problems between speakers of different L1s communicating in English, based on a collection of misunderstandings and miscommunication. It was an excellent conference close.

A huge "Thank you!" to the organisers for a fantastic and welcoming conference. I felt at home at the lovely Chandler House at UCL and I hope I can stay in touch with all the wonderful people I have met, or encountered once again after 5 years. I am really grateful.


As I mentioned earlier for my experience at IPrA, it is a real blessing to be able to attend and take active part in these international events every now and then. The networking is incredible, and the whole conferencing thing is a fascinating learning and mind-opening experience. As I always say, if the world does not come to you, you should "go to the world". At times your local context, however great, cannot provide you with the learning experiences you need, so salary and life-permitting, I will try to continue furthering my learning paths in my beloved Buenos Aires, and abroad, and sharing all my experiences with you.

Hope you have enjoyed my attempt to bring the world to you, wherever you are reading this from!

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