Date of Award

3-30-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

Stephanie Lindemann - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Lucy Pickering - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Nan Jiang - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Sara Weigle - Committee Member

Abstract

This dissertation research investigates the cognitive mechanisms underlying second language (L2) listening comprehension. I use three types of sentential contexts, congruent, neutral and incongruent, to look at how L2 learners construct meaning in spoken sentence comprehension. The three types of contexts differ in their context predictability. The last word in a congruent context is highly predictable (e.g., Children are more affected by the disease than adults), the last word in a neutral context is likely but not highly predictable (e.g., Children are more affected by the disease than nurses), and the last word in an incongruent context is impossible (e.g., Children are more affected by the disease than chairs). The study shows that, for both native speakers and L2 learners, a consistent context facilitates word recognition. In contrast, an inconsistent context inhibits native speakers’ word recognition but not that of L2 learners. I refer to this new discovery as the facilitation-without-inhibition phenomenon in L2 listening comprehension. Results from follow-up experiments show that this facilitation-without-inhibition phenomenon is a result of insufficient suppression by L2 learners.

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