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Second language sentence processing in reading for comprehension and translation*

  • JUNG HYUN LIM (a1) and KIEL CHRISTIANSON (a2)

Abstract

A self-paced reading and translation task was used with learners of English as a second language (L2) to explore what sorts of information L2 learners use during online comprehension compared to native speakers, and how task (reading for comprehension vs. translation) and proficiency affect L2 comprehension. Thirty-six Korean native speakers of English and 32 native English speakers read plausible and implausible subject relative clauses and object relative clauses. Reading times, comprehension accuracy, and translations were analyzed. Results showed that L2 learners were able to use syntactic information similarly to native speakers during comprehension, and that online L2 processing and offline comprehension were modulated by reading goals and proficiency. Results are interpreted as showing that L2 processing is quantitatively rather than qualitatively different from first language processing, i.e. strategically “good enough”.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Jung Hyun Lim, Department of Educational Psychology, Education Building, MC-708 University of Illinois, 1310 S. 6th St., Champaign, IL 61820, USAjunglim@illinoisalumni.org

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An earlier version of this research was presented at the Second Language Research Forum (University of Maryland, 2010). The authors thank the members of the Educational Psychology Psycholinguistics Lab for helping with data collection and Steve Luke for advice about data analysis. The authors also thank three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. This research was funded in part by a UIUC Campus Research Board grant, a summer GA support award from the UIUC Bureau of Educational Research, and NSF BCS-0847533 to Kiel Christianson and a Cognitive Science/Artificial Intelligence (CS/AI) award from the Beckman Institute to Jung Hyun Lim.

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