This is an overview of past and present MA projects in the ELL. All completed MA theses can be found in the Agder University Research Archive (AURA).
Effects of Lexical Dysfluency on Memory in L2 English
Andrea Dorothea Skintveit Holter and Irene Slethei
Allison Wetterlin and Linda Wheeldon
Agnieszka Konopka (University of Aberdeen)
The project is designed investigate memory processes in bilinguals listening to second language English. Bilinguals listening in their second language have been shown to have better memory for the surface form of sentences compared to L1 speakers (Sampaio & Konopka 2013). In a more recent study (Konopka, in prep) bilinguals and monolinguals listened to English sentence descriptions whilst looking at visual scenes. They then looked at the same visual scenes, some of which had been slightly altered, and had to decide whether they had seen them before. Results showed that bilinguals had better memory for visual detail when working in L2 compared to monolinguals working in L1. Interestingly, in trials with lexical disfluencies in the spoken description visual memory was improved for monolingual but not for bilingual L2 listeners. This study aims to further investigate memory processes in L2 listeners by testing the processing of English as a second language in Norwegian-English bilinguals. One possibility to explain the differences obtained in (Konopka, in prep) is that predictive processing operates in a listener’s L1 but not L2 due to slower lexical access, and that lexical disfluencies are therefore more salient in L1 than in L2, leading to better memory performance. In order to manipulate the ease of lexical access in bilinguals we will compare the processing of scenes with cognate words (i.e. words that are similar in L1 and L2 e.g., film, cat, house) with the processing of scenes with non-cognate words (i.e. words that are dissimilar in L1 and L2 e.g., table, bed, cupboard). Cognates are processed more quickly by bilinguals, therefore, if ease of lexical access is critical to the disfluency effect then we may observe it in L2 with cognates but not non-cognates.
The methodology employed will be similar to that employed by Konopka (in prep). Norwegian English bilinguals will look at visual scenes such as those below.
While listening to verbal descriptions of them, some of which will contain lexical disfluencies. Their eye-movements will be recorded during this phase (using an Eye-link 1000 eye-tracker) in order to map their up-take of visual information and relate it to their processing of the auditory sentences. In addition, the disfluency effect may relate to the L2 proficiency of the listener. The memory data will therefore also be related to the results of a bilingual profile questionnaire and two objective tests of language proficiency: a English vocabulary test and a verbal working memory test.
Word finding and sentence production in English as a secondary language
Mikael A. Albrecht, Susanne M. Avila, and Lune Sunnset
Linda Wheeldon and Allison Wwetterlin
Sophie M. hardy (University of Birmingham)
The project was designed to relate aspects of bilingual profile and vocabulary to first and second language word and sentence production. The MA project was divided into two experiments. Bilinguals experience more tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) states than monolinguals. However it is not known if this is caused in part by access of representations from both of bilinguals’ languages occurring led frequently than for monolinguals (frequency lag hypothesis), or dual-language activation causing competition (reducing word activation into TOT) or facilitation (increasing word activation into TOT) between lexical representations of translations equivalents in both languages. Bilinguals differ in how they use their languages and in their L1 and L2 proficiency.
This project elicited ToTs in the L1 and L2 of Norwegian-English bilinguals for proper names, cognates and non-cognate translation equivalents. According to the frequency lag hypothesis the frequency of ToTs in L1 and L2 should be related to the frequency of language usage in bilinguals for non-cognate translation equivalents but not for proper names and cognates. According to the dual activation hypothesis the frequency of ToTs in L1 and L2 should be related to the frequency of unwanted intrusions experienced L1 into L2 and vice versa. These issues were the subject of the first experiment.
The second experiment concerned word finding which also affects the speed with which we can articulate complex sentences. To generate sentences we must select the appropriate words and generate a syntactic structure to fix their linear order. It is unlikely that processing is completed for the entire sentence before articulation begins. Instead, most current models of language production propose that processing occurs incrementally with early parts of the utterance being articulated while we plan upcoming parts. This raises the question how far ahead are speakers able to plan? How many words can speakers activate in parallel and is their activation constrained by the syntactic structure being built? Some studies suggest that flexibility in planning scope may depend on how easily words can be retrieved or may be grammatically constrained. An experiment will be run to elicit spoken sentences in the second language of our Norwegian-English bilinguals. These sentences differed in their phrase structure to test for grammatical constraints on planning (e.g., A saw and a cat go down/A saw goes above a cat). The ease of word retrieval was be manipulated by comparing sentences comprising cognate words (Hus-House) with noncognate words (Bord-Table). Bilinguals retrieve cognates more quickly and more accurately than non-cognate words. The scope of lexical retrieval was tested by comparing sentences with semantically related words (e.g., A saw and an axe go down) to sentences with unrelated words (e.g., A saw and a cat go down). Semantic overlap slows lexical retrieval so if slowing is observed, this is evidence of temporal overlap in the retrieval of both words. The word finding and sentence planning data will also be related to the results of a vocabulary tests and the bilingual profile questionnaire.
Dag Haugland, Bjørn H. Handeland, and Beatrice Zitong Urland
Allison Wetterlin and Linda Wheeldon
Steven Frisson (University of Birmingham)
This project investigated the second language English (L2) proficiency of Native speakers of Norwegian (L1). The research involves a questionnaire study with the aim of eliciting detailed language proficiency ratings and relating them to objective tests of L2 English proficiency. In particular, we collect ratings of accent proficiency and relate them to tests of phonological and spelling ability as well as comprehension. In addition, a sentence reading experiment will be run to collect eye-tracking data from the silent reading English sentences by native Norwegian speakers. The aim of this experiment was to determine the persistence of word-form information during L2 reading and its relationship to L2 language proficiency.