Blog Archives

Vocabulary size and depth of word knowledge in adult-onset second language acquisition

This study investigated whether adult-onset second language (L2) learners achieve native level vocabulary after decades of immersion. Vocabulary tests were given to three groups of participants: highly successful adult-onset learners of English, monolingual English speakers, and bilingual native speakers of English. Overall, the native speakers outperformed the non-native speakers; however, the rate of native like achievement was remarkably high among the successful adult-onset learners, which indicated that native level L2 vocabulary size and depth of word knowledge were attainable in adulthood. Factors that correlated with native level L2 vocabulary were: childhood caregivers’ education, verbal ability and literacy in the native language, and interest in word learning and daily reading. The findings suggest that the lexicon may be the potentially most successful area of adult-onset L2 learning.

from the International Journal of Applied Linguistics


Tip-of-the-tongue for proper names in mild cognitive impairment. Semantic or post-semantic impairments?

Difficulty in recalling the names of people is very common in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). However, it is not known whether the difficulty in naming people in MCI reflects problems associated with lexical access or with semantic access. The aims of the present study were to investigate semantic and phonological access to proper names by use of a Tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) task in individuals with multidomain amnestic MCI, individuals with amnestic MCI, and healthy controls, as well as to study the relationships between TOT production and performance in a free recall verbal memory test. In the individuals with multidomain amnestic MCI, the main process affected was phonological access; failures in phonological access were related to deficits in general cognitive functioning and in free recall verbal memory. Semantic access was not impaired in the either type of MCI. We interpret the findings in light of the transmission deficit hypothesis, as MCI involves a greater deficit in transmission from semantic to phonological representations than that produced by normal aging. We suggest that failure in phonological access may be the first step in the progression from MCI to AD as regards naming difficulties.

from the Journal of Neurolinguistics

Expressive vocabulary and phonological awareness: correlations in children with phonological disorders

CONCLUSION: A correlation was found between some phonological awareness abilities and the expressive vocabulary of the children with phonological disorder in this study, in different ages. Performance in both tasks improved with age.

from Revista de Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

Computer-assisted second language vocabulary learning in a paired-associate paradigm: a critical investigation of flashcard software

The present study aims to conduct a comprehensive investigation of flashcard software for learning vocabulary in a second language. Nine flashcard programs were analysed using 17 criteria derived from previous studies on flashcard learning as well as paired-associate learning. Results suggest that in general, most programs have been developed in a way that maximises vocabulary learning. For instance, seven of the nine programs allow flashcard creation, offer multilingual support and allow learners to add contexts, audios or images to flashcards. Furthermore, eight programs provide various types of exercises, and nine programs support scheduling. At the same time, the present study has also shown that existing flashcard programs have some room for improvement. More specifically, most programs are limited in their ability to support data entry, increase retrieval effort and promote generative use of target words. When individual programs are compared, iKnow! seems to be the best program among those investigated. It offers the most comprehensive support for data entry, automatically generates distractors for multiple-choice exercises and increases retrieval effort by systematically introducing various types of exercises. The variations among the programs in their design suggest that there do not exist commonly accepted guidelines for how flashcard software should be designed.

from Computer Assisted Language Learning

The independent effects of phonotactic probability and neighbourhood density on lexical acquisition by preschool children

The goal of this research was to disentangle effects of phonotactic probability, the likelihood of occurrence of a sound sequence, and neighbourhood density, the number of phonologically similar words, in lexical acquisition. Two-word learning experiments were conducted with 4-year-old children. Experiment 1 manipulated phonotactic probability while holding neighbourhood density and referent characteristics constant. Experiment 2 manipulated neighbourhood density while holding phonotactic probability and referent characteristics constant. Learning was tested at two time points (immediate vs. retention) in both a naming and referent identification task, although only data from the referent identification task were analysed due to poor performance in the naming task. Results showed that children were more accurate in learning rare sound sequences than common sound sequences and this was consistent across time points. In contrast, the effect of neighbourhood density varied by time. Children were more accurate in learning sparse sound sequences than dense sound sequences at the immediate test point but accuracy for dense sound sequences significantly improved by the retention test without further training. It was hypothesised that phonotactic probability and neighbourhood density influenced different cognitive processes that underlie lexical acquisition.

from Language and Cognitive Processes

Semantic Categories and Context in L2 Vocabulary Learning

This article extends recent findings that presenting semantically related vocabulary simultaneously inhibits learning. It does so by adding story contexts. Participants learned 32 new labels for known concepts from four different semantic categories in stories that were either semantically related (one category per story) or semantically unrelated (four categories per story). They then completed a semantic-categorization task, followed by a stimulus-match verification task in an eye-tracker. Results suggest that there may be a slight learning advantage in the semantically unrelated condition. However, our findings are better interpreted in terms of how learning occurred and how vocabulary was processed afterward. Additionally, our results suggest that contextual support from the stories may have surmounted much of the disadvantage attributed to semantic relatedness.

from Language Learning

The N400 effect in children: Relationships with comprehension, vocabulary and decoding

Using event-related potentials (ERPs), we investigated the N400 (an ERP component that occurs in response to meaningful stimuli) in children aged 8–10 years old and examined relationships between the N400 and individual differences in listening comprehension, word recognition and non-word decoding. Moreover, we tested the claim that the N400 effect provides a valuable indicator of behavioural vocabulary knowledge. Eighteen children were presented with picture-word pairs that were either ‘congruent’ (the picture depicted the spoken word) or ‘incongruent’ (they were unrelated). Three peaks were observed in the ERP waveform triggered to the onset of the picture-word stimuli: an N100 in fronto-central channels, an N200 in central–parietal channels and an N400 in frontal, central and parietal channels. In contrast to the N100 peak, the N200 and N400 peaks were sensitive to semantic incongruency with greater peak amplitudes for incongruent than congruent conditions. The incongruency effects for each peak correlated positively with listening comprehension but when the peak amplitudes were averaged across congruent/incongruent conditions they correlated positively with non-word decoding. These findings provide neurophysiological support for the position that sensitivity to semantic context (reflected in the N400 effect) is crucial for comprehension whereas phonological decoding skill relates to more general processing differences reflected in the ERP waveform. There were no correlations between ERP and behavioural measures of expressive or receptive vocabulary knowledge for the same items, suggesting that the N400 effect may not be a reliable estimate of vocabulary knowledge in children aged 8–10 years.

from Brain and Language

Health Sciences Descriptors in the Brazilian Speech-Language and Hearing Science*

the presented proposal of a thesaurus contains the specific terminology of the Brazilian Speech-Language and Hearing Sciences and reflects the descriptors of the published scientific production. Being the DeCS a trilingual vocabulary (Portuguese, English and Spanish), the present descriptors organization proposition can be used in these three languages, allowing greater cultural interchange between different nations.

from Pró-Fono Revista de Atualização Científica

Fluency Training in the ESL Classroom: An Experimental Study of Fluency Development and Proceduralization

The present study investigates the role of speech repetition in oral fluency development. Twenty-four students enrolled in English-as-a-second-language classes performed three training sessions in which they recorded three speeches, of 4, 3, and 2 min, respectively. Some students spoke about the same topic three times, whereas others spoke about three different topics. It was found that fluency improved for both groups during training but was maintained on posttests only by the students who repeated their speeches. These students had used more words repeatedly across speeches, most of which were not specifically related to the topic. It is argued that proceduralization of linguistic knowledge represented a change in underlying cognitive mechanisms, resulting in improvements in observable fluency.

from Language Learning

Verb-Noun Collocations in Second Language Writing: A Corpus Analysis of Learners’ English

The present study investigates the use of English verb-noun collocations in the writing of native speakers of Hebrew at three proficiency levels. For this purpose, we compiled a learner corpus that consists of about 300,000 words of argumentative and descriptive essays. For comparison purposes, we selected LOCNESS, a corpus of young adult native speakers of English. We retrieved the 220 most frequently occurring nouns in the LOCNESS corpus and in the learner corpus, created concordances for them, and extracted verb-noun collocations. Subsequently, we performed two types of comparisons: learners were compared with native speakers on the frequency of collocation use and learners were compared with other learners of different second-language proficiencies on the frequency and correctness of collocations. The data revealed that learners at all three proficiency levels produced far fewer collocations than native speakers, that the number of collocations increased only at the advanced level, and that errors, particularly interlingual ones, continued to persist even at advanced levels of proficiency. We discuss the results in light of the nature of collocations and communicative learning and suggest some pedagogical implications.

from Language Learning

Lexical knowledge and lexical retrieval in ageing: Insights from a tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) study

Elderly people experience more failures in word form access (tip-of-the-tongue events, ‘TOTs’) than young people. There is general agreement that TOTs are signs of cognitive decline in older people, but because of the diversity and ambiguity involved in measuring TOTs, certain questions regarding age-related trends in semantic access remain unsolved. Age-related increases in vocabulary may raise the level of efficiency of access to semantic representations and compensate for lexical access failures. We explore the relationships between lexical knowledge and lexical retrieval in ageing by re-examining the data obtained by Juncos-Rabadn et al. on TOTs induced in 140 volunteers aged from 19 to 82 years. We found that older adults displayed significantly more difficulty in accessing the phonological representations of personal names, but not those of common nouns. The results revealed greater semantic access efficiency in older participants. We discuss the findings in light of the transmission deficit theory of TOT production.

from Language and Cognitive Processes

Predicting Expressive Vocabulary Acquisition in Children With Intellectual Disabilities: A 2-Year Longitudinal Study

Conclusions: The results of this study underscore the great heterogeneity in expressive vocabulary skills in children with ID. The importance of prelinguistic communication, chronological age, cognitive skills, and vocabulary comprehension for explaining differences in expressive vocabulary skills is discussed.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Expressive vocabulary and auditory processing in children with deviant speech acquisition*

CONCLUSION: there is a correlation between the auditory processing and the lexicon, where vocabulary can be influenced in children with deviant speech acquisition.

from Pró-Fono Revista de Atualização Científica

Lexical and metaphonological abilities in preschoolers with phonological disorders*

CONCLUSION: the influence of Phonological Disorder may only be observed on the metaphonological performance. Phonological Disorder did not interfere with the development of the lexical ability of this group of preschoolers. Positive correlations were identified between both abilities in the studied age group.

from Pró-Fono Revista de Atualização Científica

Lexical and Grammatical Skills in Toddlers on the Autism Spectrum Compared to Late Talking Toddlers

This study compared language development in 30-month-old toddlers on the autism spectrum and 25-month-old late talking toddlers without autism. Groups were matched on overall productive vocabulary (and nonverbal cognition was controlled) in order to compare language acquisition patterns related to vocabulary composition and early lexical–grammatical relationships. Findings revealed that semantic categories of words—including psychological state terms—used by toddlers on the autism spectrum were very similar to those of late talkers. Both groups were equivalent with respect to grammatical complexity and proportion of toddlers combining words, though late talkers displayed a relatively stronger association between lexical–grammatical abilities. These tentative findings are consistent with a dimensional account of early, core linguistic abilities across different populations of children with language delay.

from the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders