The Effect of Phonological Awareness on the Acquisition of a Third Language
Eric Liang1, Marc Ettlinger1, & Patrick C. M. Wong1
1 Roxelyn & Richard Pepper Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Corresponding email: [email protected]
- This study focuses on a set of three questions regarding language learning in bilinguals and monolinguals
- Does being bilingual facilitate subsequent language acquisition?
- How does bilingualism facilitate the acquisition of a third language (L3)?
- If there are multiple ways in which L3 learners benefit from being bilingual, how do these effects interact?
- Domain general: Being bilingual makes learning an L3 easier because of the cognitive advantages associated with bilingualism. These advantages include enhanced attention and executive control (Bialystok & Craik, 2008).
- Domain Specific: Knowing a wider range of certain linguistic features facilitates the learning of new but related features.
- Cumulative: The domain general and domain specific effects are additive, thus allowing bilinguals to benefit from general cognitive advantages and language-specific experience.
- BILINGUALISMAND SUBSEQUENT LANGUAGE LEARNING
- Kaushanskaya & Marian (2009a & b): Bilingualism facilitates L3 acquisition due to general cognitive advantages
- Best (1995): An “attuned” perceptual system possesses an increased ability to acquire information to which it has become sensitized
- Best et al (2001): Discrimination of non-native contrasts facilitated if phonologically equivalent to native contrasts
- Sanz, (2000): Bilingual education has a positive effect on L3 acquisition
- Cenoz & Valencia (1994), Swain et al (1990): Literacy in multiple languages improves L3 acquisition
- CURRENT STUDY
- The goal of the current study is to determine whether the domain general, domain specific, or cumulative hypothesis is true for the acquisition of a third language. By determining which hypothesis is true, the benefits of bilingual education and bilingualism can be better understood.
- Paid Northwestern University participants
- 12 Mandarin-English bilinguals
- 12 English monolinguals
- Female speaker of Gujarati
- Mandarin-like language (ML): 8 sound stimuli containing a Mandarin feature (retroflex consonants)
- /ti/, /te/, /tu/, /to/, /ʈi/, /ʈe/, /ʈu/, /ʈo/
- English-like language (EL): 8 sound stimuli containing an English feature (fricative voicing)
- /βi/, /βe/, /βu/, /βo/, /ɸi/, /ɸe/, /ɸu/, /ɸo/
- Normalized for pitch and amplitude
- 16 different pictures each paired with a stimulus
- Participants sit in a sound booth equipped with a monitor to display pictures
- Participants are provided with a keyboard to input responses and a set of headphones to hear stimuli
- TRAINING: Participants learn one artificial language (15 minutes of training)
- No responses necessary during training
- TEST: Participants complete a word-picture pairing test (10 minutes)
- Participants are presented with a full set of 8 pictures on the monitor
- Each picture is paired with a corresponding number
- Stimuli are presented consecutively
- Following each presentation, participants are given time to choose the picture paired with the stimulus
- Participants input their response using the number pad on the keyboard
- Repeat with second language
- Counter-balanced languages between subjects
- Cumulative hypothesis was predicted to be correct
- English monolinguals would perform worse on both EL and ML
- Mandarin bilinguals would perform better on ML and English monolinguals would perform better on EL
- ACTUAL RESULTS
- Domain general hypothesis most well-supported
- Mandarin-English bilinguals outperformed English monolinguals overall in both languages
- No domain specific effect = No cumulative effects
- RELATIVE DIFFICULTYOF EL
- Reaction times suggest that EL is a more difficult language than ML
- Explains discrepancy between expected accuracies of bilingual and monolingual groups and actual results
- Speed-accuracy tradeoff also suggests relative difficulty of EL
- More time needed for EL despite worse accuracy by both groups
- DOMAIN GENERAL HYPOTHESIS
- Bilinguals have an advantage in subsequent language learning
- The domain general hypothesis was most well-supported
- Mandarin-English bilinguals better at both languages
- Both groups better at ML, although reaction times suggest that ML was an easier language overall
- No evidence for domain specific hypothesis because English monolinguals did not perform better on EL
- FUTURE WORK
- Follow-up experiment will compare Korean-English bilinguals and Mandarin-English bilinguals
- Domain specific evidence possibly lacking due to increased difficulty of EL relative to ML
- Can possibly find domain specific evidence by controlling for difficulty of artificial languages
- Evidence also more likely to be found because two bilingual groups will be compared
- Will reveal whether bilingual advantages are due to previous experience with specific language features
- Artificial language based on Korean phonology will be created
- Vowels will remain identical to those used in EL and ML
- Domain general, domain specific, and cumulative hypotheses will once again be considered
Figure 1: Predicted results (Cumulative effect)Y-axis indicates degree of accuracy. Note that English monolinguals perform better on ML than Mandarin-English bilinguals perform on EL. However, the better performance of bilinguals across both languages is due to cumulative domain general and domain specific effects.
Figure 2: Comparative accuracy of both groups
p = 0.007** between groupsp = 0.098* between languages
Mandarin-English BilingualsML accuracy = 87%, EL accuracy = 81%
p = 0.35
English MonolingualsML accuracy = 77%, EL accuracy = 68%
p = 0.191
Results suggest that EL may have been more difficult
Explains discrepancy between expected scores and actual scores for English monolinguals
Figure 3Comparative reaction times of both groups
p = 0.519 between groupsp = 0.006** between languages
Mandarin-English BilingualsML reaction time = 0.221 second/answerEL reaction time = 0.26 second/answer
p = 0.096*
English MonolingualsML reaction time = 0.219 second/answerEL reaction time = 0.265 second/answer
p = 0.009**
Both groups reacted slower during testing of EL
References and Acknowledgements
Best, C.T. (1995). A direct realist perspective on cross-language speech perception. In W. Strange (Ed.), Speech perception and linguistic experience: Theoretical and methodological issues in cross-language speech research (pp. 167-200). Timonium, MD: York Press.
Best, C.T., McRoberts, G.W., & Goodell, E. (2001). Discrimination of non-native consonant contrasts varying in perceptual assimilation to the listener’s native phonological system. J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 109(2), 775–794.
Bialystok, E., & Craik, F.I.M. (2010). Cognitive and linguistic processing in the bilingual mind. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19(1), 19–23.
Cenoz, J., & Valencia, J. F. (1994). Additive trilingualism: Evidence from the Basque Country. Applied Psycholinguistics, 15, 195–207.
Kaushanskaya, M., & Marian, V. (2009a). Bilingualism reduces native-language interference during novel-word learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition; 35(3), 829–835.
Kaushanskaya, M., & Marian, V. (2009b). The bilingual advantage in novel word learning. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16(4), 705–710.
Sanz, C. (2000). Bilingual education enhances third language acquisition: Evidence from Catalonia. Applied Psycholinguistics, 21, 23–44.
Swain, M., Lapkin, S., Rowen, N., & Hart, D. (1990). The role of mother tongue literacy in third language learning. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 3(1), 65–81.
The study resulting in this presentation was assisted by a grant from the Undergraduate Research Grant Program which is administered by Northwestern
University's Office of the Provost. However, the conclusions, opinions, and other statements in this presentation are the author's and not necessarily those of
the sponsoring institution.
Performance is significantly different
Speed differences between groups were not significant but speed differences within groups were significant