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Lindsey Chandler

Lindsey Chandler

Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese Graduate Student



Lindsey is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, studying L2 Spanish vocabulary learning through reading. She currently works as a Graduate Teaching Assistant within the department, where her experiences have shaped her dissertation questions. Her broader research interests sit at the intersection of second language psycholinguistics and classroom teaching methods. Previous and other ongoing projects include L2 English and L2 Spanish vowel analysis and morphophonosemantics. 

Before coming to Penn State, Lindsey earned an MA in Spanish including coursework in cognitive science at North Carolina State University. She has previously studied Spanish and Psychology at Appalachian State University, and worked as a tutor working with various student populations and subjects. When she is not working on her dissertation and research, Lindsey is passionate about yoga and community outreach initiatives.

Project Summary:

Language researchers claim that in order to be proficient in an L2, students must learn approximately 9,000 word families, but explicit instruction courses typically cover approximately 3,000 (Malone, 2018; Schmitt & Schmitt, 2012). Therefore, to close the gap between instruction and advanced competence, learners must typically rely on additional strategies for vocabulary development. One process identified as incidental vocabulary learning is centrally defined as word learning through multiple exposures in context (e.g., Webb, 2007; Ellis, 1999, Huckin & Coady, 1999), though retention rates tend to decrease in the long term (Uchihara et al., 2019).

Cognitive psychologists and language education researchers alike suggest that previously-established knowledge (e.g., Takashima & Bakker, 2017) can facilitate the learning of new information. This project examines in more detail what lexical information can act as previous knowledge to facilitate vocabulary learning for L2 Spanish speakers. Specifically, we ask whether L2 learners of Spanish are sensitive to morphological overlap in prime and target pairs while reading. The results of this project will inform whether L2 learners are able to use word structure in real time to create and develop new sets of vocabulary outside of explicit instruction.

I am undertaking this project in collaboration with Dr. Holger Hopp at the Technische Universität in Braunchsweig, Germany. The outcomes of this project will contribute to conversations about morphology and more general explicit language training in educational systems in Germany and the United States. Given the increase of learners of Spanish, among other foreign languages, in educational settings, it’s important to understand how we can maximize language training effectiveness to draw upon natural cognitive processes, to allow students as lifelong learners to develop their proficiency beyond the walls of the classroom.