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Comparing the effect of skewed and balanced input on English as a foreign language learners’ comprehension of the double-object dative construction


According to usage-based approaches to acquisition, the detection of a construction may be facilitated when input contains numerous exemplars with a shared lexical item, which is referred to as skewed input. First language studies have shown that skewed input is more beneficial for the acquisition of novel constructions than balanced input, in which a small set of lexical verbs occurs an equal number of times. However, a second language (L2) study of datives found no advantage for skewed input compared to balanced input. The present study compared the effectiveness of skewed and balanced input at facilitating the comprehension of the double-object dative construction in L2 English. Over a 2-week period, Thai English as foreign language learners (N = 78) completed comprehension tests and a treatment activity that provided either skewed first, skewed random, or balanced input. The results indicated that balanced input was most effective at promoting comprehension of double-object datives. The implications are discussed in terms of the benefits of different types of input for L2 learners.

Corresponding author
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Kim McDonough, Department of Education, Concordia University (LB-583-1), 1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West, Montréal, QC H3G 1M8, Canada. E-mail:
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Applied Psycholinguistics
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