Research

Research in second/foreign language (L2) psycholinguistics examines the degree to which L2 learners use the same mechanisms as native speakers in online language processing, providing a fine-grained measure of the possibilities and limitations of L2 acquisition. A large amount of work in this area has focused on sentence-level processing. However, before language can be processed at the sentence level, it must be processed at the word level. This can be particularly challenging in the auditory modality, in that speech is a continuous flow of sounds where word boundaries are not reliably marked by any single cue. L2 listeners must be able to segment the language input into words before they can form grammatical representations of the sentences they hear. L2 speech segmentation is thus a crucial domain to investigate. My main research program aims to provide new insights on how adult L2 learners segment the continuous speech signal into words and how different types of information in the signal constrain L2 lexical access. In addition to this main research line, I am interested in how adult L2 learners use stress in word recognition and how they process morphologically complex words. My research focuses on adult L2 learners at different L2 proficiencies who were exposed to the L2 later on in life (i.e., after the age of 9). Given my interest in L2 development, I have also done research on proficiency assessment in L2 research.

Native listeners use various cues to locate words in speech, including distributional cues (probability of occurrence of sounds in word-initial and word-final positions), acoustic cues (e.g., duration of sounds in word-initial and word-final positions), and prosodic cues (prominence on syllables in word-initial and/or word-final position(s)). For speech segmentation to succeed, L2 learners must use the cues that are efficient for locating words boundaries in the L2. This task is non-trivial insofar as languages differ in the cues that signal word boundaries and in the relative importance of these cues.

My main research program aims to provide new insights on how adult L2 learners use distributional, acoustic, and prosodic cues to word boundaries, and how specific linguistic factors influence their learning of these cues. In addition to this research line, I have cultivated secondary research interests in the use of lexical stress (prominence on a particular syllable in the word) in L2 word recognition, the use of grammatical information (e.g., past tense –ed) in L2 word recognition and L2 sentence processing, and the assessment of L2 proficiency. My research focuses on adult L2 learners at different L2 proficiencies who were exposed to the L2 after the age of 9.