Alba is a first year graduate student in the Spanish Linguistics and Language Science program working with Dr. Giuli Dussias. Her main research interests include bilingual language processing, second language acquisition, and speech perception. During May and June of 2017 she will be visiting Beijing Normal University in China to consult with Dr. Hua Shu. She will be collecting data on syntactic processing of L1 and L2 speakers of Chinese while reading Chinese texts with different spacing conditions.
Different languages display texts in different formats. Texts can be written from left to right, from right to left, from top to bottom, or with and without spacing between words. In recent decades, scholars have explored how demarcation of word boundaries affects first and second language reading. This line of research has led to insights into how readers process language and into possible implications of word boundaries on language learning. Overall, results from previous studies suggest that demarcation of word boundaries affects eye movement control during reading, and may reduce reading times and enhance word identification and sentence processing. Additionally, in the particular case of non-alphabetic languages like Chinese, research also suggests that inserting words boundaries may improve vocabulary acquisition in children and second language learners (L2) of Mandarin Chinese. However, these effects vary between young and adult readers, specifically in the acquisition of new vocabulary, and there is no consensus on whether delimiting word boundaries has a positive or negative effect on the reader’s eye movements during reading.
Furthermore, there has been extensive research on the demarcation of word boundaries and eye movements at the word and sentence levels for first language (L1) speakers of Chinese, while there is little research exploring these factors with bilingual speakers and learners of Chinese as an L2. In order to expand this line of research, this PIRE I project will analyze the effects of word boundary demarcation on the reading processes of foreign language readers of Mandarin Chinese as an L2.