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Naturalistic reading in the L2 and the impact of word frequency and cross-linguistic similarity

Allen, David; Conklin, Kathy

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David Allen

Professor of Psycholinguistics


While psycholinguistic studies of first language (L1) reading have identified multiple factors that predict the speed of lexical access, there are few studies investigating whether such factors influence second language (L2) reading. For usage-based models of acquisition and processing, two lexical factors that are believed to be crucial in L2 reading are word frequency and cross-linguistic similarity. No previous studies, however, have looked at these factors during naturalistic reading tasks when readers’ L1 and L2 differ in script. In this study, we monitored the eye movements of Japanese speakers of English while they read a short story. We used linear mixed effects modelling to investigate the role of word frequency and cross-linguistic similarity, as well as other factors such as language proficiency, on L2 lexical access. Word frequency was a strong predictor of word reading speed. A cross-linguistic measure of phonological similarity was not significant, indicating that even if lexical representations in the L1 were activated during L2 reading, this activation did not influence reading speed. The findings are discussed in terms of a localist connectionist model of word recognition.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 16, 2017
Online Publication Date Mar 13, 2017
Publication Date Mar 13, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 29, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 29, 2018
Journal Journal of the Ochanomizu University English Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 3
Pages 41-57
Public URL
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