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Attention control, working memory, and second language experience in second language performance

Title:

Attention control, working memory, and second language experience in second language performance

Chung, Wai Men Noel (2008) Attention control, working memory, and second language experience in second language performance. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This research investigated the roles of linguistic attention control and working memory (WM), and second language (L2) experience that may underlie L2 proficiency. A series of three experiments were conducted in which the L2-specific index was computed by subtracting the L1 RT from the L2 RT. Participants were English-French bilinguals whose levels of proficiency in the L2 were operationalized as lexical access on a speeded living/nonliving semantic classification task. Experiment I investigated the hypothesis that there was a greater difficulty of shifting attention with grammaticized elements as opposed to concrete and abstract nouns in both L1 and L2. Attention control was operationalized as efficiency of attention shift judgments in a nonmatching-to-sample task with concrete, abstract, and grammaticized words as stimuli. Experiment II explored the hypothesis that there existed a relationship between a language-specific form of grammatical attention and working memory in L2 performance, after controlling for general attention and WM skills. In a reading memory span task WM reading comprehension was operationalized as efficiency of reading sentences, and WM storage capacity was operationalized as the number of recalled words. Experiment III tested the hypothesis about whether there existed a relationship between L2-specific idiom recognition skills and certain social and communicative aspects of L2 exposure and practice. The dependent measure of critical interest from the living/nonliving task was the measure of processing efficiency. The coefficient of variation (CV) of the RT provided this measure of efficiency. L2 proficiency was assessed by partialling out the L1 CV from the L2 CV. Idiom recognition skill was operationalized as speed of deciding an idiom is correctly expressed or not. The Montreal Index of Linguistic Integration provided self-report measures of contact with speakers in the L1 and the L2 where experience using everyday idioms was likely to be had. As predicted, the present findings support the view that proficiency in the L2 is associated with basic cognitive processes such as linguistic attention or executive control and WM, and the amount and type of contact the L2 learner has with members of the L2 community.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Chung, Wai Men Noel
Pagination:ix, 167 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Psychology
Date:2008
Thesis Supervisor(s):Segalowitz, N
ID Code:976180
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2016 17:58
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:41
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