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Title: Processing of L2 words in bilingual children and adults : predictors, patterns, and tendencies
Author: Zhao, Ting
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 2657
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Within the context of foreign language learning, very little research has examined how learners process second language (L2) words in terms of which variables best predict their processing speed and which mechanisms best characterize bilingual lexical processing. The present study set out to address this gap by using a range of learner and lexical variables (such as vocabulary size, word length, and age of acquisition) as points of reference against which to identify the best predictors of children’s and adults' L2 lexical processing, and by comparing response latencies across stimulus conditions so as to identify the processing pattern specific to each age group. Thirty-nine primary-aged and 94 university-level Chinese learners of English performed a picture-naming task in English and then in Chinese, and then completed a Chinese-to-English task. The researcher analyzed and estimated how those learner and lexical variables predicted the recorded response latencies by means of multiple regression and structural equation modeling, and made cross-stimulus-condition comparisons with the use of analysis of variance. The results suggested that different aspects of vocabulary knowledge contributed significantly to predicting children's and adults' processing speed, and that shorter processing time was significantly and directly predicted by the younger age at which an L2 word was learned and its higher degree of word typicality. Both lexical association and conceptual mediation were present in L2 lexical processing irrespective of learners' age but in general the later an L2 word is learned, the greater the likelihood that the word is lexically accessed and processed. These results illustrate the crucial role that language experiences and conceptual structures play in influencing the ease or difficulty with which L2 lexical items are retrieved, and reflect the complexities and dynamics involved in processing bilingual lexicons. These findings will be discussed within the context of the role of research and theory in developing evidence-based pedagogical practice with a specific reference to vocabulary acquisition in children and adults learning foreign languages within input-limited contexts.
Supervisor: Murphy, Victoria Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Applied linguistics ; Lexical processing ; Spoken production ; Lexical characteristics ; Bilingual learners ; Vocabulary learning and teaching