University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > RCEAL Tuesday Colloquia > The first hours of second language acquisition: How do French native speakers perceive, comprehend and parse the Polish speech stream?

The first hours of second language acquisition: How do French native speakers perceive, comprehend and parse the Polish speech stream?

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A fundamental challenge for research focusing on the processing of second or target language (TL) input is identifying what elements in the input are perceived and processed by the learner, and how they are processed. One central problem for researchers conducting empirical studies in this area is the controlling and measuring of the linguistic input to which learners are exposed. Another is identifying what elements of this linguistic exposure are “taken in” by the learner. In fact, few studies have systematically tested how much and what kind of exposure is needed to significantly improve the perceptual activity of an adult language learner.

This paper presents a study in which the TL input provided to our learners (French learners of Polish) from the moment of first exposure were controlled and documented, allowing for a quantitative comparison of our learners’ performance in Polish on a given task with the total input received. Learners were tested at initial exposure, then at various intervals up to 8 hours of exposure.

Our results show that through such a comparison, we gain a better understanding of how some TL input becomes part of the learner’s language system and some does not, and of why a learner perceived, comprehended and/or parsed a particular input item at a given time.

This talk is part of the RCEAL Tuesday Colloquia series.

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