Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 309–329

What Do Second Language Listeners Know About Spoken Words? Effects of Experience and Attention in Spoken Word Processing

Original Article


With a goal of investigating psycholinguistic bases of spoken word processing in a second language (L2), this study examined L2 learners’ sensitivity to phonological information in spoken L2 words as a function of their L2 experience and attentional demands of a learning task. Fifty-two Chinese learners of English who differed in amount of L2 experience (longer vs. shorter residence in L2 environment) were tested in an auditory word priming experiment on well-known L2 words under two processing orientation conditions (semantic, control). Results revealed that, with more L2 experience, learners become more sensitive to phonological detail in spoken L2 words but that attention to word meaning might eliminate this sensitivity, even for learners with more L2 experience.


Spoken word processing Auditory word priming Second language Attention Language experience 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education/TESL Centre, Centre for the Study of Learning and PerformanceConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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