Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
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Research and Education

Language knowledge and context affect how comprehension spills over to production

Language knowledge and context affect how comprehension spills over to production
When: May 5, 2016
Where: Granada, Spain

Kinsey Bice, a 2016 PIRE fellows, has recently presented a poster at the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society.

Language contexts vary dramatically around the world, leading to diverse linguistic experiences for monolinguals, language learners, and proficient bilinguals. While only bilingual speakers experience the effects of switching between a second language (L2) and the native language (L1), all speakers, including monolinguals, encounter situations in which an L2 (known or unknown) is heard and semantically supported by context through gestures, the surrounding environment, or translation. The present study examined how comprehension in the L2 (in bilinguals) or the intention to comprehend the L2 (in monolinguals) affects the ability to subsequently speak in another language. Participants performed a picture-naming task while event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded. They named pictures from the first block in one language, viewed pictures while listening to the names in another language during the second block, and returned to the first language for naming the pictures in the third block. Participants varied in language knowledge as well as context: Mandarin-English bilinguals in the USA, monolingual English participants in the USA, Cantonese- English simultaneous bilinguals in Hong Kong, and monolingual English participants in Hong Kong. Initial ERP analyses reveal a modulating effect of language experience, such that bilinguals benefit from repetitions of both heard and spoken items, monolinguals in the USA who listened to pictures named in an unknown language are not facilitated in subsequent naming, and monolinguals living in Hong Kong experience interference for naming items that were previously heard in Cantonese. These results suggest that language experience and language context change how comprehension affects production.