Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Specific Referential Contexts Shape Efficiency in Second Language Processing: Three Eye-Tracking Experiments With 6- and 10-Year-Old Children in Spanish Immersion Schools

  • Casey Lew-Williams (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

Efficiency in real-time language processing generally poses a greater challenge to adults learning a second language (L2) than to children learning a first language (L1). A notoriously difficult aspect of language for L2 learners to master is grammatical gender, and previous research has shown that L2 learners do not exploit cues to grammatical gender in ways that resemble L1 speakers. But it is not clear whether this problem is restricted to grammatical gender or whether it reflects a broader difficulty with processing local relations between words. Moreover, we do not know if immersive L2 environments, relative to typical L2 classrooms, confer advantages in learning regularities between words. In three eye-tracking experiments, 6- and 10-year-old children who were enrolled in Spanish immersion elementary schools listened to sentences with articles that conveyed information about the grammatical gender (Experiment 1), biological gender (Experiment 2), and number of referents in the visual field (Experiment 3). L1 children used articles to guide their attention to target referents in all three experiments. L2 children did not take advantage of articles as cues to grammatical gender, but succeeded in doing so for biological gender and number. Interpretations of these findings focus on how learning experiences interact with the nature of specific referential contexts to shape learners’ efficiency in language processing.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Arnold J. E., Eisenband J. G., Brown-Schmidt S., & Trueswell J. C. (2000). The rapid use of gender information: Evidence of the time course of pronoun resolution from eyetracking. Cognition, 76, 1326.
Bates E., & MacWhinney B. (1981). Second language acquisition from a functionalist perspective: Pragmatic, semantic, and perceptual strategies. In Winitz H. (Ed.), Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: No. 379. Native language and foreign language acquisition (pp. 190214). New York, NY: New York Academy of Sciences.
Brownell R. (2000). Receptive one-word picture vocabulary test: Spanish-bilingual edition. Novato, CA: Academic Therapy.
Clahsen H., & Felser C. (2006). Grammatical processing in language learners. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27, 342.
Clark E. V. (2003). Critical periods, sensitive periods, and lateralization. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics, 9 (2), 3948.
Corbett G. G. (1991). Gender. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Dahl A., & Vulchanova M. D. (2014). Naturalistic acquisition in an early language classroom. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 329.
Feigenson L., Dehaene S., & Spelke E. S. (2004). Core systems of number. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 307314.
Feinauer E., Hall-Kenyon K. M., & Davison K. C. (2013). Cross-language transfer of early literacy skills: An examination of young learners in a two-way bilingual immersion elementary school. Reading Psychology, 34, 436460.
Fernald A., Zangl R., Portillo A. L., & Marchman V. A. (2008). Looking while listening: Using eye movements to monitor spoken language comprehension by infants and young children. In Sekerina I. A., Fernández E. M., & Clahsen H. (Eds.), Developmental psycholinguistics: On-line methods in children's language processing (pp. 97135). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Fortune T. W., & Tedick D. J. (2015). Oral proficiency assessment of English-proficient K–8 Spanish immersion students. Modern Language Journal, 99, 637655.
Foucart A., & Frenck-Mestre C. (2011). Grammatical gender processing in L2: Electrophysiological evidence of the effect of L1–L2 syntactic similarity. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 14, 379399.
Grüter T., Lew-Williams C., & Fernald A. (2012). Grammatical gender in L2: A production or a real-time processing problem? Second Language Research, 28, 191215.
Guillelmon D., & Grosjean F. (2001). The gender marking effect in spoken word recognition: The case of bilinguals. Memory & Cognition, 29, 503511.
Haith M. M., Wentworth N., & Canfield R. L. (1993). The formation of expectations in early infancy. Advances in Infancy Research, 8, 251297.
Hawkins R., & Chan C. Y.-H. (1997). The partial availability of universal grammar in second language acquisition: The “failed functional features hypothesis.” Second Language Research, 13, 187226.
Hirsh-Pasek K., Adamson L. B., Bakeman R., Owen M. T., Golinkoff R. M., Pace A., . . . Suma K. (2015). The contribution of early communication to low-income children's language success. Psychological Science, 26, 10711083.
Imai M., Schalk L., Saalbach H., & Okada H. (2014). All giraffes have female-specific properties: Influence of grammatical gender on deductive reasoning about sex-specific properties in German speakers. Cognitive Science, 38, 514536.
Jiang N. (2004). Morphological insensitivity in second language processing. Applied Psycholinguistics, 25, 603634.
Kaushanskaya M., Gross M., & Buac M. (2014). Effects of classroom bilingualism on task-shifting, verbal memory, and word learning in children. Developmental Science, 17, 564583.
Kovelman I., Baker S., & Petitto L. (2008). Age of first bilingual language exposure as a new window into bilingual reading development. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 11, 203223.
Lew-Williams C., & Fernald A. (2007). Young children learning Spanish make rapid use of grammatical gender in spoken word recognition. Psychological Science, 18, 193198.
Lew-Williams C., & Fernald A. (2010). Real-time processing of gender- marked articles by native and non-native Spanish speakers. Journal of Memory and Language, 63, 447464.
MacDonald M. C., & Seidenberg M. S. (2006). Constraint satisfaction accounts of lexical and sentence comprehension. In Traxler M. J., & Gernsbacher M. A. (Eds.), Handbook of Psycholinguistics (2nd ed., pp. 581611). London, UK: Elsevier.
MacWhinney B. (2005). Extending the competition model. International Journal of Bilingualism, 9, 6984.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2008). Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) [Public school data file]. Retrieved from U.S. Department of Education website: https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass
Padilla A. M., Fan L., Xu X., & Silva D. (2013). A Mandarin/English two-way immersion program: Language proficiency and academic achievement. Foreign Language Annals, 46, 661679.
Pinker S. (1982). A theory of the acquisition of lexical interpretive grammars. In Bresnan J. (Ed.), The mental representation of grammatical relations (pp. 655726). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Potowski K. (2007). Language and identity in a dual immersion school. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Quinn P. C., Yahr J., Kuhn A., Slater A. M., & Pascalis O. (2002). Representation of the gender of human faces by infants: A preference for female. Perception, 31, 11091121.
Robertson E. K., Shi R., & Melançon A. (2012). Toddlers use the number feature in determiners during online noun comprehension. Child Development, 83, 20072018.
Roid G. H., & Miller L. J. (1997). Leiter International Performance Scale-Revised. Wood Dale, IL: Stoelting.
Sabourin L., Stowe L. A., & de Haan G. J. (2006). Transfer effects in learning a second language grammatical gender system. Second Language Research, 22, 129.
Scherag A., Demuth L., Rösler F., Neville H. J., & Röder B. (2004). The effects of late acquisition of L2 and the consequences of immigration on L1 for semantic and morpho-syntactic language aspects. Cognition, 93, B97–B108.
Smolík F. (2014). The use of gender information in lexical processing in Czech 23-month-olds: An eye-tracking study. In Orman W. & Valleau M. J. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 451462). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.
Song H., & Fisher C. (2005). Who's “she”? Discourse prominence influences preschoolers’ comprehension of pronouns. Journal of Memory and Language, 52, 2957.
Tedick D. J., & Wesley P. M. (2015). A review of research on content-based foreign/second language education in US K–12 contexts. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 28, 2540.
Tedick D. J., & Young A. I. (2014). Fifth grade two-way immersion students’ responses to form- focused instruction. Applied Linguistics, 37, 784807.
Tokowicz N., & MacWhinney B. (2005). Implicit and explicit measures of sensitivity to violations in second language grammar. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27, 173204.
van Heugten M., & Johnson E. K. (2011). Gender-marked determiners help Dutch learners’ word recognition when gender information itself does not. Journal of Child Language, 38, 87100.
van Heugten M., & Shi R. (2009). French-learning toddlers use gender information on determiners during word recognition. Developmental Science, 12, 419425.
Vigliocco G., Vinson D. P., Paganelli F., & Dworzynski K. (2005). Grammatical gender effects on cognition: Implication for language learning and language use. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 134, 501520.
Weisleder A., & Fernald A. (2013). Talking to children matters: Early language experience strengthens processing and builds vocabulary. Psychological Science, 20, 110.
Westerveld M. F. (2014). Emergent literacy performance across two languages: Assessing four-year-old bilingual children. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 17, 526543.
Xu F., & Spelke E. S. (2000). Large number discrimination in 6-month-old infants. Cognition, 74, B1–B11.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annual Review of Applied Linguistics
  • ISSN: 0267-1905
  • EISSN: 1471-6356
  • URL: /core/journals/annual-review-of-applied-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 91 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 253 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 21st June 2017 - 21st January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.