[ Second language psycholinguistics ]

 

Projects

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The research we are doing in the lab is mainly organized around three main focus areas. Clicking on each one will take you to more specific projects being conducted currently. Do not hesitate to contact us for more details!


Nature and scope of phonological knowledge in L1 and L2
Individual differences in acquisition
Powerful instruction methods for pronunciation



Nature and scope of phonological knowledge in L1 and L2

This area of our research targets the nature and scope of the phonological grammar: it seeks to understand how all dimensions of phonology are acquired and represented in the bilingual's mind (the individual sounds, but also more abstract levels like the syllable or sound combinations, higher-level dimensions like prosody and rhythm, variability, or co-variance between sounds). It includes current work on the nature of phonological categories (fuzzy representations?), on the lexical encoding of categories and of phonotactics. Some students work on language mode and on the question of how bilinguals switch between "several phonologies". We also examine how phonology is represented and acquired across modalities (spoken, signed), and whether the same principles hold across modalities. Another interest are the cross-relationships in phonological grammar, where we ask the question of the links between domains: for example, the perception-production link, or the interaction between orthography and phonological representations in the mental lexicon. Below, some of these projects are outlined in more detail.

Nature of phonological categories and fuzzy representations

Isabelle Darcy
Danielle Daidone (SLS)
Franziska Krüger (Germanic Studies, SLS)
Ryan Lidster (SLS)
Chisato Kojima (Linguistics)

In this big project, we investigate the question of how new phonetic/phonological categories are learned in a second language. We focus on the developmental paths, and on the whole acquisition process: forming a new robust category AND encoding this into lexical representations. We specifically examine the question of the form of these representations in the mental lexicon.

Link to Darcy et al. (2012)

Link to Darcy, Daidone & Kojima (2013)



Phonotactics in the mental lexicon

Isabelle Darcy
Trisha Thomas (Cognitive Science)
Abdullah Alotaibi (SLS)

In this project, we investigate the question of how phonotactics is acquired in a second language. We specifically examine the question of the form of words in the mental lexicon.


From allophones to phonemes: how l2 learners learn to transform allophones into a phonemic contrast, or vice-versa

Miguel Marquez Martinez
John Scott
Isabelle Darcy

This project consists of two dissertations in progress which investigate the question of how L2 learners modify the status of certain categories with respect to their phonological role:
If in L1 two categories have the status of phonemes, how do learners reorganize their phonological system for an L2 where similar categories are actually allophones in complementary distribution? (John)
Vice-versa, Miguel's dissertation examines the problem from the opposite perspective: Can learners learn to represent two sounds that are allophones in the L1 as separate phonemes in an L2?


Orthography, Perception, Lexical encoding, Production

Ala Simonchyk
Isabelle Darcy

This project examines the cross-relationships in phonological grammar, where we ask the question of the links between domains: for example, the perception-production link, or the interaction between orthography and phonological representations in the mental lexicon.




Individual differences in phonological acquisition


The role of attention control and inhibition in acquisition of new contrasts

Isabelle Darcy
Joan-Carles Mora (Universitat de Barcelona)

In this multi-year project, we investigate the question of how new phonetic/phonological categories are learned in a second language, and what is the role played by attention control and/or inhibition. We focus particularly on individual differences, while trying to make sense of conflicting results in the literature, perhaps induced by methodological differences across studies in how inhibition or attention is measured.

Link to Darcy, Mora & Daidone, NewSounds presentation (2013)



Individual Differences in the acquisition of Second Language Phonology

Isabelle Darcy
Hanyong Park (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Hanyong's website)
Chung-Lin Yang (Cognitive Science, Linguistics, SLS)

A large body of literature focuses on individual differences in general second language acquisition (Dörnyei 2005). But very little progress has been made in identifying the sources of those differences as they apply to phonological acquisition. Phonological acquisition - through perceptual and motor learning - is in large part reflected in the degree of foreign accent in a second language. Most approaches to individual differences and SLA so far have been concerned with second language learning in an academic language learning setting, whereas our approach is committed to naturalistic language acquisition in social context, while considering psycholinguistic and general neurocognitive functions as well.
In order to make progress in this area, we conducted a study about individual variability in the L2 acquisition of English phonology. In order to examine individual differences and long-term development in the acquisition of the L2 phonological system, we link neurocognitive abilities, vocabulary size, and phonological acquisition. We are currently analyzing production data.

Link to Darcy, Park & Yang(2015)


Powerful instruction methods for pronunciation


The role of pronunciation instruction for acquisition, comprehensibility and foreign accent

Isabelle Darcy
Joshua Gordon (SLS)
Ryan Lidster (SLS)
Doreen Ewert (University of San Francisco)

In this larger project, I am interested in understanding the role played by pronunciation instruction, and what factors can enhance its effectivity. With Josh Gordon, we work on understanding whether explicit pronunciation instruction yields larger comprehensibility benefits for learners than non-explicit pronunciation instruction.
With Doreen Ewert and Ryan Lidster, we have worked on curriculum design and on ways to integrate pronunciation instruction into actual language teaching. We offer recommendations for what to teach when, and we encourage a more integral teaching of pronunciation in the lower proficiency levels.

Link to Darcy, I., Ewert, D. and Lidster, R. (2012) Bringing pronunciation instruction back into the classroom: An ESL Teachers' pronunciation "toolbox". Published in the Proceedings of the 3rd PSLLT Conference.





Completed Projects



Vowel perception and production in Turkish children acquiring L2 German

Isabelle Darcy and Franziska Krueger (Indiana University)

First language (L1) phonological categories strongly influence late learners' perception and production of second language (L2) categories. For learners who start learning an L2 early in life ("early learners"), this L1 influence appears to be substantially reduced or at least more variable. In this paper, we examine the age at which L1 vowel categories influence the acquisition of L2 vowels. We tested a child population with a very narrow range of age of first exposure, controlling for the use of L1 vs. L2, and various naturally produced contrasts that are not allophonic in the L1 of the children. An oddity discrimination task provided evidence that children who are native speakers of Turkish and began learning German as an L2 in kindergarten categorized difficult German contrasts differently from agematched native speakers. Their vowel productions of these same contrasts (un-cued object naming)were mostly target-like.

Darcy, I., and Krüger, F. (2012). Vowel perception and production in Turkish children acquiring L2 German. Journal of Phonetics, 40, 568-581


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Lab News





We'll be at New Sounds 2016, June 10-12, 2016, Aarhus University, Denmark

Click here to see the new SLS Colloquium Schedule Spring 2016

Click here to see the course materials for the seminar Bilingual Mental Lexicon at Universitat de Barcelona (password protected).