Investigating pseudohomophone interference effects in young second-language learners

Eva Commissaire (Lead / Corresponding author), Lynne Duncan, Séverine Casalis

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Abstract

This study aimed to investigate phonological activation during silent word reading in French adolescents learning English as a second language (L2) at secondary school. Grade 6 and Grade 8 adolescents performed lexical decision tasks in English, where we compared processing of nonwords that were homophonic to real L2 words (i.e., pseudohomophones [PsHs]; e.g., grean) with that of orthographic control pseudowords (OCs; e.g., greun). In Experiment 1, PsHs were constructed so that they sounded like L2 words when using cross-language (L1) grapheme-to-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) only (e.g., grine), whereas PsHs were constructed with within-language (L2) GPCs (e.g., grean) in Experiment 2. Results showed a PsH interference effect as reflected by higher error rates and/or longer rejection times for PsHs compared with OCs whether using within-language or cross-language GPCs and at both grade levels. Evidence of this PsH interference effect was also observed in Experiment 3, which used PsHs that sounded like real L1 words when using L2 GPCs (e.g., droal for the French word drôle [funny in English]). We suggest that young L2 learners automatically activate both L1 and L2 GPCs during L2 silent reading in favor of strong cross-language interactions at the orthography-to-phonology interface. The results are discussed in relation to bilingual and developmental models on visual word recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume180
Early online date24 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Keywords

  • Cross-language
  • Language nonselectivity
  • Phonological activation
  • Pseudohomophones
  • Second language learners
  • Visual word recognition

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