Learning Words and Definitions in Two Languages: What Promotes Cross-language Transfer?

  • 31/03/2022
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This study used a brief vocabulary training paradigm to examine two factors for cross-language transfer: how similar the first language (l1) is to the second language (l2) and l1-l2 proficiency levels. Fifty-four sequential bilingual children (aged 68) with similar l2 english proficiency levels were assigned to three equal groups: a vietnamese-english group with low l1 proficiency, a spanish-english group with low l1 proficiency, and a spanish-english group with high l1 proficiency. Individual training consisted of two mediated learning experiences conducted in the l1 targeting eight vocabulary items using narrative-based activities. Four of eight target words were cognates between spanish and english. Pre- and posttesting measured definition quality in the l1 and l2. All groups showed improvement in the l1 following training, but only the spanish-english group with high l1 proficiency improved in l2 english, revealing a degree of spontaneous cross-language transfer among children with high l1-l2 proficiency. 2017 Language learning research club, university of michigan

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