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The role of input variability and learner age in second language vocabulary learning

Sinkeviciute, R; Brown, H; Brekelmans, G; Wonnacott, E; (2019) The role of input variability and learner age in second language vocabulary learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 10.1017/S0272263119000263. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Input variability is key in many aspects of linguistic learning, yet variability increases input complexity, which may cause difficulty in some learning contexts. The current work investigates this trade-off by comparing speaker variability effects on L2 vocabulary learning in different age groups. Existing literature suggests that speaker variability benefits L2 vocabulary learning in adults, but this may not be the case for younger learners. In this study native English-speaking adults, 7- to 8-year-olds, and 10- to 11-year-olds learned six novel Lithuanian words from a single speaker, and six from eight speakers. In line with previous research, adults showed better production of the multispeaker items at test. No such benefit was found for either group of children, either in production or comprehension. Children also had greater difficulties in processing multiple-speaker cues during training. We conclude that age-related capacity limitations may constrain the ability to utilize speaker variability when learning words in a new language.

Type: Article
Title: The role of input variability and learner age in second language vocabulary learning
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0272263119000263
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263119000263
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10068402
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