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Second Language Swedish Morphosyntactic Instruction and Cross-Language Similarity: An Erp Investigation

Tolentino, Leida Curado (2011) Second Language Swedish Morphosyntactic Instruction and Cross-Language Similarity: An Erp Investigation. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This small-scale longitudinal experiment evaluated how specific differences among instruction methods, and differences between the first (L1) and second language (L2), interact to influence the beginning stages of L2 learning. Native English speakers learned a miniature version of Swedish according to three methods: contrast and color highlighting (Salience group), contrast and highlighting with grammatical rule explanations (Rule & Salience group), or neither (Control group). Responses to grammatical features that are instantiated similarly in L1 and L2 (demonstrative determiner-noun number agreement), instantiated differently in the two languages (singular definiteness marking), and that only exist in L2 (article-adjective gender agreement) were contrasted with the purpose of examining L1 transfer (e.g., Tokowicz & MacWhinney, 2005). Participants underwent three training sessions on vocabulary and grammar, completed three grammaticality judgment task post-tests, and two L1-L2 sentence translation tasks over a period of approximately three weeks. Grammaticality judgment scores on Swedish sentences: (a) improved across tests for all groups; (b) were lowest for dissimilar features in the Control group; and (c) were highest for similar and unique features, particularly in the Salience and Rule & Salience groups. Event-related potentials showed qualitative neural differences in the three training groups, which differentially varied with cross-language similarity. Sentence translation grammar accuracy was higher for similar and unique features. The findings are consistent with theories that emphasize cross-language similarity (e.g., MacWhinney, 2005) and input salience (e.g., Ellis, 2006; Schmidt, 1990) in L2 learning. Importantly, these results are novel in demonstrating that instruction methods that direct learners' attention to critical aspects of input and provide rule explanations may be particularly helpful in learning L2 features that are distinct from L1.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Tolentino, Leida Curadolct5@pitt.eduLCT5
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTokowicz, Natasha
Committee MemberJuffs, Alan
Committee MemberPerfetti, Charles
Committee MemberWarren, Tessa
Date: 30 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 29 November 2010
Approval Date: 30 January 2011
Submission Date: 8 December 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: cross-language similarity; ERPs; lan; n400; p600; second language instruction
Other ID:, etd-12082010-200649
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:09
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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