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Katherine Kerschen

Katherine Kerschen
German Linguistics Graduate Student, PIRE Fellow 2018-2019
Katherine Kerschen


I am a third-year Ph.D. student pursuing a dual-title degree in German Linguistics and Language Science. I received my B.A. in German, Psychology, and Applied Linguistics from Washington University in St. Louis in 2010 and my M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the Technische Universität Dortmund (Germany) in 2013. My research centers around second language learners’ lexical knowledge and the process of vocabulary acquisition in a second language. My investigation of these topics incorporates both psycholinguistic and classroom-based, pedagogical approaches.

Project Summary:

This summer I will be spending 8 weeks at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, working with Dr. Zofia Wodniecka-Chlipalska in the Psychology of Language and Bilingualism Lab, in collaboration with Dr. Carrie Jackson here at Penn State. I will be collecting data for a research project investigating the representations and processing of abstract and concrete words in the semantic system among L2 English speakers. The study uses different variations on a semantic priming task in order to test a hypothesis proposing that abstract and concrete words are associated with and organized by different types of information within the semantic network. Our study aims to provide a better understanding of semantic organization (in particular of differences between abstract and concrete words) in bilinguals and to aid in the development of effective L2 vocabulary teaching techniques.