Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 51–65 | Cite as

Doomed to Read in a Second Language: Implications for Learning



The aim of the study was to elucidate whether and how reliance on a second language impacts the learning of new information under very basic learning conditions. The paradigm used to investigate this issue required individuals to learn a series of associations between numerals and particular letter strings. Participants were two groups of university students: (1) individuals for whom spoken Hebrew was the mother tongue and written Hebrew a primary orthography (L1 group), and (2) individuals for whom Hebrew, both spoken and written, was a second language (L2 group). Data were collected under two conditions. In the language-dependent condition (LDC), the paradigm required learning associations between eight numerals and the letter strings of eight familiar Hebrew words. In the language-independent condition (LIC), it required learning associations between eight numerals and eight random letter strings in Hebrew. Results suggest that learners may be significantly disadvantaged when compelled to learn new information mediated in a second language. This disadvantage appears to manifest itself at a very basic learning level and in instances where new information is mediated by language that is fairly overlearned by the L2 learner.


Learning First language Second language 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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