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Senior Chinese high school students' awareness of thematic and taxonomic relations in L1 and L2*

  • DEGAO LI (a1), XIANNV ZHANG (a2) and GUOYING WANG (a3)

Abstract

In the development of their semantic networks, bilinguals can be influenced by the levels of proficiency they have in their second language (L2) and by the age at which they acquired the language. Two exercises, one in word association and one in forced-choice decision-making, were used to test whether the pattern of relative awareness of thematic and taxonomic relations that senior Chinese high school students had in L2 differed from the pattern they had in their first language (L1). The results consistently indicated that (i) the participants appeared as aware of taxonomic relations in L2 as they were in L1; and (ii) they were more readily aware of thematic than of taxonomic relations in L1 but less readily aware of thematic than of taxonomic relations in L2. It was concluded that with taxonomic relations, low-proficiency bilinguals could have a common set of conceptual representations for both L2 and L1, as they are assumed in the revised hierarchical model (RHM) to have. With thematic associations, they might have more difficulty gaining access to their representations in L2 than they might have in L1.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Degao Li, School of International Studies, Zhejiang University, 388#, Yuhangtang Rd., Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China li-degao@163.com

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The authors wish to express their sincere gratitude to the four reviewers for their constructive comments.

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References

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Senior Chinese high school students' awareness of thematic and taxonomic relations in L1 and L2*

  • DEGAO LI (a1), XIANNV ZHANG (a2) and GUOYING WANG (a3)

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