Explaining L2 Lexical Learning in Multiple Scenarios : Cross-Situational Word Learning in L1 Mandarin L2 English Speakers

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2022
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Escudero, Paola
Mulak, Karen E.
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Adults commonly struggle with perceiving and recognizing the sounds and words of a second language (L2), especially when the L2 sounds do not have a counterpart in the learner’s first language (L1). We examined how L1 Mandarin L2 English speakers learned pseudo English words within a cross-situational word learning (CSWL) task previously presented to monolingual English and bilingual Mandarin-English speakers. CSWL is ambiguous because participants are not provided with direct mappings of words and object referents. Rather, learners discern word-object correspondences through tracking multiple co-occurrences across learning trials. The monolinguals and bilinguals tested in previous studies showed lower performance for pseudo words that formed vowel minimal pairs (e.g., /dit/-/dɪt/) than pseudo word which formed consonant minimal pairs (e.g., /bɔn/-/pɔn/) or non-minimal pairs which differed in all segments (e.g., /bɔn/-/dit/). In contrast, L1 Mandarin L2 English listeners struggled to learn all word pairs. We explain this seemingly contradicting finding by considering the multiplicity of acoustic cues in the stimuli presented to all participant groups. Stimuli were produced in infant-directed-speech (IDS) in order to compare performance by children and adults and because previous research had shown that IDS enhances L1 and L2 acquisition. We propose that the suprasegmental pitch variation in the vowels typical of IDS stimuli might be perceived as lexical tone distinctions for tonal language speakers who cannot fully inhibit their L1 activation, resulting in high lexical competition and diminished learning during an ambiguous word learning task. Our results are in line with the Second Language Linguistic Perception (L2LP) model which proposes that fine-grained acoustic information from multiple sources and the ability to switch between language modes affects non-native phonetic and lexical development.

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400 Sprachwissenschaft, Linguistik
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cross-situational word learning; L1 mandarin L2 english; minimal and non-minimal word pairs; acoustic cues; language modes; L2LP model
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ISO 690ESCUDERO, Paola, Eline A. SMIT, Karen E. MULAK, 2022. Explaining L2 Lexical Learning in Multiple Scenarios : Cross-Situational Word Learning in L1 Mandarin L2 English Speakers. In: Brain Sciences. MDPI. 2022, 12(12), 1618. eISSN 2076-3425. Available under: doi: 10.3390/brainsci12121618
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@article{Escudero2022-12Expla-59508,
  year={2022},
  doi={10.3390/brainsci12121618},
  title={Explaining L2 Lexical Learning in Multiple Scenarios : Cross-Situational Word Learning in L1 Mandarin L2 English Speakers},
  number={12},
  volume={12},
  journal={Brain Sciences},
  author={Escudero, Paola and Smit, Eline A. and Mulak, Karen E.},
  note={Article Number: 1618}
}
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