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Processing of novel L2 compounds across repeated exposures during reading: A growth curve analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 January 2022

Wei Yi*
School of Chinese as a Second Language, Peking University, Beijing, China


Using eye tracking, this study examined L2 learners’ real-time processing of novel compounds across repeated exposures during reading. Sixty-one L2 speakers of Chinese read 12 stories over two days. Unbeknown to them, 12 novel compounds were embedded, each occurring six times. Growth curve analyses showed that semantic transparency, working memory capacity, and morphological awareness had no impact on fixation durations for the novel compounds. However, participants with a larger L2 vocabulary size processed novel opaque compounds significantly faster than those with a smaller L2 vocabulary size. For both transparent and opaque compounds, first fixation durations did not change across exposures, yet similar curvilinear decreasing patterns were found in gaze duration and total reading time, with the rates of decrease moderated by L2 vocabulary size and working memory capacity, respectively. Taken together, such findings provide converging evidence supporting the incidental nature of vocabulary learning through natural reading.

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© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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