Analysis of L2 learners' progress of distinguishing Mandarin tone 2 and tone 3

Yue Sun, Win Thuzar Kyaw, Jinsong Zhang, Yoshinori Sagisaka

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Many studies have shown the effectiveness of perceptual training to improve L2 learners' ability to distinguish Mandarin tones. In this paper, we quantified learners' perceptual characteristics on discriminating the most difficult tone pair, Tone 2 and 3 in Mandarin before and after training. L2 learners' categorical perception is measured by fitting a sigmoid curve to the identification responses with average F0 height as the acoustic dimension. The boundary location of the two tones in L2 learners' perception space is significantly improved to a higher F0 height after training. Regression analysis indicated that δF0 and δt of the initial fall of the concave F0 shape are the key acoustic features for native speakers in discrimination. L2 learners rely on not only the initial fall but also the δF0 of the final rise to discriminate the tones. A detailed analysis using cognitive measurements reports an increasing attention on the initial fall of the F0 contour for L2 learners after perceptual training. These results confirmed that directing the attention to key acoustic features is essential for L2 learners to improve their categorical perception of novel speech contrasts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2549-2553
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event19th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication, INTERSPEECH 2018 - Hyderabad, India
Duration: 2018 Sept 22018 Sept 6


  • Japanese L2 learners
  • Key acoustic feature
  • Mandarin tone
  • Perceptual training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Signal Processing
  • Software
  • Modelling and Simulation


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