My name is Felicity Sarnoff. I am a Junior double majoring in Linguistics and World Language Education. I am incredibly passionate about studying languages, understanding their linguistic systems, and helping others to acquire them. When I’m not studying languages or assisting with linguistics research, I can be found painting, drawing, baking, or doing yoga. After graduation, I aspire to teach English as a foreign language abroad for several years before returning to pursue a PhD in linguistics.
My current PIRE project will focus on how native German speakers process grammatical gender when spoken by non-native German speakers. Since non-native speakers often struggle to accurately use grammatical gender, native speakers listening to non-native speech may be disincentivized from using the grammatical gender marked on definite articles to predict which noun is most likely to appear next in a sentence. Using eye-tracking, I will investigate whether native German speakers use grammatical gender information to predict upcoming nouns when hearing error-free non-native speech. I also plan to investigate whether these native speakers’ degree of past experience with hearing non-native German speech influences the degree to which they use grammatical gender predictively when hearing non-native speech.
As a previous PIRE fellow for the summer of 2021, I conducted my research virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, not only was research be conducted virtually, but it specifically investigated second language learning in a virtual synchronous context such as Zoom. I observed virtual interactions both in English and in German between students at Penn State learning German, and students at the Technische Universität Braunschweig learning English. I specifically looked at the influence of factors such as engagement, anxiety, and language proficiency on the frequency, duration, and type of participation that participants showed.