Dr. Grüter and 10 SLS graduate students publish paper in SSLA based on Fall 2021 seminar project

Language proficiency modulates listeners’ selective attention to a
talker’s mouth: a conceptual replication of Birulés et al. (2020)
Theres Grüter, Jieun Kim, Hitoshi Nishizawa, Jue Wang, Raed Alzahrani, Yu-Tzu Chang, Hoan Nguyen, Michaela Nuesser, Akari Ohba, Sachiko Roos, & Mayuko Yusa

This study presents a conceptual replication of Birulés et al.’s (2020, Experiment 2) investigation of native and non-native listeners’ selective attention to a talker’s mouth with the goal of better understanding the potentially modulating role of proficiency in listeners’ reliance on audiovisual speech cues. Listeners’ eye gaze was recorded while watching two short videos. Findings from one of the videos replicated results from the original study, showing greater attention to the talker’s mouth among L2 than L1 listeners. In both videos, L2 proficiency modulated attention, with more fixations on the mouth among lower-proficiency listeners, an effect predicted but not observed in the original study. Collectively, these laboratory-based findings highlight the role of visual speech cues in L2 listening, and present evidence that listeners with more limited proficiency may be especially reliant on such cues. These observations warrant future investigations of the benefits of visual speech cues in instructional and assessment contexts.

All materials, data, and a post-print version of the paper are openly accessible at https://osf.io/pua45/

This paper was based on a project in Dr. Grüter’s seminar (SLS 750 Seminar in SL Acquisition: Eye-tracking methods in language research) in Fall 2021