The influence of novel orthographic information on second language word learning: the case of native English speakers learning Arabic

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Publication Type thesis
School or College College of Humanities
Department Linguistics
Author Showalter, Catherine E.
Title The influence of novel orthographic information on second language word learning: the case of native English speakers learning Arabic
Date 2012-05
Description Recent research indicates that knowledge of words’ spellings can influence memory of phonological forms of second language (L2) words. For example, L2 learners whose first language uses the Roman alphabet remember newly-learned words more accurately when provided spelled forms in Roman orthography than when spelled forms are unavailable. Research also indicates that learners exposed to novel suprasegmental tone marks are more likely to remember tones associated with novel words and create tone-tone mark correspondences than learners not exposed to tone marks. However, while learners can use familiar letters and novel suprasegmental marks to make inferences about phonological forms, it is unknown whether learners can use entirely unfamiliar orthographic symbols. I therefore asked: Can learners use their knowledge of the alphabetic principle to infer phonological forms of new words when presented an unfamiliar L2 orthography? (Experiment 1). Did learners create graphemephoneme correspondences given orthographic representations? (Experiment 2). Native English speakers (no Arabic experience) were randomly assigned to Orthography or Control word learning groups. Six nonword minimal pairs contrasting Arabic velar-uvular contrasts (i.e., [k] and [q]) were randomly assigned picture “meanings”. During a word learning phase, subjects saw pictures and spelled forms (either the word spelled in Arabic script—Orthography condition, or a meaningless sequence of Arabic letters—Control condition), and heard auditory forms. In Experiment 1, subjects determined whether a picture associated with, e.g., [kaʃu], matched an auditory form [qaʃu]. There was a significant effect of item type (p<.005), with matched items being easier, but no significant effect for subject group (p=.661) and no significant interaction of item type and subject group (p=.867). In Experiment 2, subjects determined whether orthographic representations and auditory words matched. Neither group performed significantly above chance on test items (Orthography mean = .513; Control mean = .539). Results suggest there are conditions under which novel scripts may not aid in learning L2 contrasts. However, it is unclear whether the lack of positive impact of orthographic representations results from difficulty associated with the Arabic script and/or perception of the target contrast.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Arabic as a second language; Orthography; Word learning
Dissertation Institution University of Utah
Dissertation Name Master of Arts
Language eng
Rights Management Copyright © Catherine E. Showalter 2012
Format Medium application/pdf (portable document)
Format Extent 631,790 bytes
Identifier us-etd3/id/812
Source Original in Marriott Library, Special Collections, PJ27.5 2012 .S46
ARK ark:/87278/s6jm2rdx
ID 194876
setname ir_etd
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=194876