Publication |Sophia Linguistica

Difference in Comprehensibility of Spontaneous and Read Speech of Japanese


Yee Ping Wong


This study explores the difference in comprehensibility of spontaneous and read
speech of Japanese by Hong Kong learners. Thirty adults of three proficiency levels
participated in tasks of listening to two types of audio materials of the same contents
(one set of spontaneous speech and another set of read speech). Participants recalled the
contents followed by a post-test survey. Results indicated that overall accuracy rate of
different linguistic units were notably lower in the case of spontaneous speech, albeit
the performance varies among different units and proficiency levels. The comprehension
performance of the sentence and dialogue units showed larger differences between the
spontaneous and read style. Proficiency showed positive correlation with the accuracy
rate, though the difference was only statistically significant between the advanced and
intermediate groups as well as the advanced and beginner groups. A significant drop in
accuracy rate was also observed with an increase in speech rate. One counterintuitive
finding is that learners who had more extra language exposure and experience were
not remarkably better than those who had less. Implications on the development of
educational materials and corpus are discussed.