Student Grant - Sarrett & Dibbern

Second Language Acquisition: Integrated or Separate Lexica

PI: McCall Sarrett (Neuroscience) and Jennifer Dibbern (Spanish and Portuguese)

Mentors: Christine Shea (Spanish and Portuguese), Bob McMurray (Psychological and Brain Sciences)

Project: With the growing need for international communication, an ever increasing number of people find themselves wanting or needing to learn a second language. Currently, there is relatively little known about how language organization in adult second language (L2) learners develops and how it differs from language organization in fluent bilinguals. Thus, in the proposed study, we seek to characterize how the mental vocabulary store, or lexicon, of adult Spanish L2 learners interacts (or does not interact) with the lexicon of their native language during real-time auditory speech perception by using eyetracking to examine millisecond-by-millisecond unfolding of lexical activation as listeners hear words in their L2. Understanding the nature of the development of these lexica may be crucial for improving L2 curricula in schools across the globe.