Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Pascal Brenders (Donders Series 112)

10 December 2012

Promotors: Prof. dr. Janet G. Van Hell, Prof. dr. Ton Dijkstra

Cross-Language Interactions in Beginning Second Language Learners

This thesis is one of the first to show cross-language interactions in beginning second language learners in the Netherlands. Dutch classroom learners of English in fifth and sixth grade of elementary school participated in behavioural and neurocognitive tasks at the word and sentence level. Cross-language interactions were found for word recognition, word translation, and sentence processing.

During word recognition in their second language, beginning second language learners activated word candidates in both their languages. During backward word translation (from their second language to their first language), beginning classroom L2 learners activated both word form and semantic codes. At the sentence level, no sensitivity towards various grammatical violations (morphosyntactic inflections in sentences) was shown in the behavioural measures of the beginning second language learners, whereas their Event-Related Potentials showed an emerging sensitivity to morphosyntactic violations.