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THE INCIDENTAL ACQUISITION OF SPANISH: Future Tense Morphology Through Reading in a Second Language

  • James F. Lee (a1)

The present study examines the processing of Spanish future tense morphology incidentally while reading in a second language. Previous L1 and L2 reading research has demonstrated that readers can acquire new vocabulary as a result of reading, but can they also acquire formal properties of the second language grammatical system? The participants in the present study had no previous knowledge of future tense morphology such that, as they read the passage used in the study, they encountered the target form for the first time, which is an accented á on the end of an infinitive—for example, dependerá “he, she, or it will depend.” Several variables were manipulated: (a) the frequency with which the target form appeared in the input passages (6, 10, or 16 exposures); (b) the learner-readers' orientation to the task (neutral, meaning oriented, or form oriented); and (c) cues to meaning (the presence or absence of future-oriented adverbials). The effects of these variables were measured on both comprehension and input processing immediately after reading, 2 weeks later, and 1 month later. Comprehension was measured with a free-written recall and a multiple-choice comprehension test. Input processing was measured with a multiple-choice form recognition test and a modified cloze-form production test. The results indicate that all three variables have some effect on comprehension and input processing.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence to: James F. Lee, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Indiana University, 1020 E. Kirkwood, Bloomington, IN 47405-7103; e-mail:
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Studies in Second Language Acquisition
  • ISSN: 0272-2631
  • EISSN: 1470-1545
  • URL: /core/journals/studies-in-second-language-acquisition
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