Proc. of the International Congress on Acoustics, Vol. III, pp. 2321-2322, Kyoto, 2004 (Invited Demonstration)

Additional physical models of the human vocal tract as tools for education in language learning

E. Maeda and T. Arai

Abstract: We have proposed several mechanical models of the human vocal tract for the Japanese vowels /i/, /e/, /a/, /o/, and /u/ with a view toward education in acoustics. We used the models during a lecture in a university-level speech science class as well as in a high school physics class, and confirmed their effectiveness as educational tools.

Earlier, we added a new feature to the models. In a previous study, we investigated nasalized vowels, and for this purpose, we designed and reported on a nasal cavity attachment for one of the models. We then examined the effect of velopharyngeal coupling.

Educational tools for acoustics and linguistics have gradually become more accessible in recent years, for example: computer simulation, E-learning, and website study. Although it might be worthwhile to integrate the physical models with computer simulation for advanced students, we feel the physical models are better suited for introductory instruction.

In the present study, we propose several new models for language learning. One new type of model is designed to teach the /r/-/l/ distinction. Many Japanese speakers have problems producing and perceiving the difference between /r/ and /l/. We have made physical models that produce /r/ and /l/ to address this problem. We believe the models will be especially useful for second language acquisition.

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