UCARE: Undergraduate Creative Activities & Research Experiences


UCARE Research Products

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UCARE Poster session, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Research Fair, April 2016, Lincoln, NE.


Copyright © 2016 Ben Stoltenberg and Elizabeth Enkin


In recent years, foreign language studies have become an area of great interest, given that students must be prepared to take on a career in a globalized world. Consequently, there is a growing incentive to learn a second language, and especially Spanish given that it is the most-studied foreign language in the United States. Language courses designed for majors and minors generally center on the analysis and discussion of sounds, morphological processes and grammatical constructions. However, little is known about the nature of specific difficulties that may arise for native speakers of English when they interpret spoken speech in Spanish.

Both native speakers of Spanish and non-native learners of Spanish were recruited at UNL to participate in a stress perception study to investigate these difficulties. Results show that learners and native speakers of Spanish differ in their ability to perceive stress patterns in non-words, with native speakers being better than learners in all categories. Syllabic structures do affect non-native learners’ ability to perceive stress, as has been shown with the penultimate stress placement. Possible explanations include syllable length, pitch differences, and comparisons to English syllabic structure. Additional research can explore these possible explanations.