William Tsun Man Choi 蔡浚文

  • Fellowship in 2018 at University College London

Dr. William Choi is an Assistant Professor in Speech Pathology at The University of Hong Kong. He graduated from The University of Hong Kong with a BSc (First Class Honours, 2014) and PhD (2018) in Speech and Hearing Sciences. On a Fulbright Scholarship, he joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a Fulbright Scholar in 2017-2018. Subsequently, Dr. Choi moved to the University College London as a Croucher Postdoctoral Fellow, with the support of the Croucher Postdoctoral Fellowship.


Dr. Choi's research focuses on suprasegmental speech perception, especially Cantonese tones and English stress. In a study published in Cognition, Dr. Choi and his team discovered that Cantonese-English bilinguals perceived English stress more accurately than did native English listeners. This ground-breaking finding bucked the usual assumption that non-native listeners are always disadvantaged compared with native listeners. In a follow-up study, Dr. Choi further examined this Cantonese advantage and identified its behavioral and neurophysiological constraints. Based on collective research, Dr. Choi proposed the Acoustic-Attentional-Contextual hypothesis which has led to a major theoretical advancement in understanding positive transfer in cross-linguistic speech perception.

Dr. Choi also explores the connectivity of music and language, with a specific focus on cross-domain transfer. In 2020, Dr. Choi investigated the effect of musical experience on Cantonese tone perception by native English listeners. The study showed that musical experience only facilitated the perception of some—but not all—Cantonese tones. This surprising finding (referred by Dr. Choi as “the selectivity of musical advantage”) informs the need to refine contemporary theories of cross-domain plasticity.

Besides research, Dr. Choi engages in academic and community services. He is an Associate Editor of Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers in Communication, and Deafness & Education International. He has also served as an external reviewer for the HKSAR government and private funders.

Selected publications

Choi, W. (2022). Theorizing positive transfer in cross-linguistic speech perception: The Acoustic-Attentional-Contextual hypothesis. Journal of Phonetics, 91, 101135. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2022.101135

Choi, W. (2021). Cantonese advantage on English stress perception: Constraints and neural underpinnings. Neuropsychologia, 158, 107888. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2021.107888

Choi, W. (2020). The selectivity of musical advantage: Musicians exhibit perceptual advantage for some but not all Cantonese tones. Music Perception, 37(5), 423-434. doi:10.1525/mp.2020.37.5.423

Choi, W., Tong, X, & Samuel, A. G. (2019). Better than native: Tone language experience enhances second language English lexical stress discrimination in Cantonese-English bilinguals. Cognition, 189, 188-192. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2019.04.004

A complete list of his publications can be found on https://www.researchgate.net/profile/William_Choi5

HKU homepage


Selected media coverage

[Croucher Foundation] https://croucherscienceweek.hk/science-insights/cantonese/

[Croucher Foundation] https://croucherscienceweek.hk/hk/science-insights/cantonese/

[HK Economic Journal; 信報] https://www1.hkej.com/dailynews/views/article/1636895/

[HK Economic Times; 經濟日報] https://topick.hket.com/article/1885902/

[Oriental Daily; 東方日報] https://orientaldaily.on.cc/cnt/news/20170821/00176_015.html

[Wen Wei Po; 文匯報] http://paper.wenweipo.com/2017/08/21/YO1708210010.htm