Linguistics Colloquium: Tamar Degani
Tamar Degani, University of Haifa
Title: Multilingualism and adult vocabulary learning
Previous language experience may affect the linguistic and nonlinguistic resources available to the learner when encountering a novel language, and indeed multilingualism has been shown to affect vocabulary learning (for review Hirosh & Degani, 2018). In this talk I ask how previous language experience of multilingual speakers modulate vocabulary learning. I will present studies investigating how learning is modulated by (a) form and meaning overlap with the first-language (L1) or the second-language (L2) of the speaker; and (b) the language of instruction, contrasting learning through the L1 vs. the L2. Adult Hebrew-English bilinguals learned words in Arabic (Experiment 1), or in German through Hebrew vs. English (Experiment 2). Results show that form-overlap with the L1 or with the L2 facilitated learning, such that cognates were learned better than controls and false-cognates. Under specific conditions and learner characteristics, false-cognates were also learned better than controls. Further, cognates were learned equally well through the L1 or the L2, but control words and false-cognates were learned better through the L1 of multilingual speakers. These findings are informative for understanding whether and when multilingualism benefits learning and highlight the influence of interactions between item and learner characteristics.
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