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Title:Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän: the effects of instruction on the L2 acquisition of German compound nouns
Author(s):Tendera, Anna
Advisor(s):Webster, Charles R.
Department / Program:Germanic Languages & Lit
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Second Language Acquisition (SLA)
compound nouns
Abstract:In recent years, psycholinguists and neurolinguists have focused on the question of how exactly words are organized in the brain. According to Genesee (2000) and Park et al. (2012), L1 and L2 do not represent two different and independent language systems in the brain but are organized in a similar manner. Drawing upon this theory, one could conclude that L2 instruction should mirror native-like acquisition. This idea is highly supported by followers of the natural or communicative approaches. Accordingly, L2 learners would not need explicit instructions to acquire a new lexicon for already existing phenomena in their minds. However, the question of whether L2 acquisition follows this theoretical construct must be investigated. This paper discusses L2 vocabulary learning processes. In particular, it focuses on the learning of German compound nouns, which can often be a source of confusion for learners. It investigates the following key questions: (1) Which strategy of vocabulary instruction (explicit or implicit) allows students to correctly use compound nouns in German? (2) How well do learners apply their knowledge of grammatical rules about the formation of compound nouns in novel contexts? The paper reports on the results of a study of students enrolled in second- and thirdsemester German courses at a large research university. Two groups of participants were exposed to either explicit or implicit instruction in the formation of German compound nouns, and a third group received no instruction. A set of non-compound nouns was presented in instruction, and the participants wrote a vocabulary test two days after instruction. Participants who were in the explicit-instruction group more accurately used complex compound nouns within meaningful contexts. A post-instruction (“think-aloud”) discussion revealed that participants in the explicit group were better able to articulate and understand rules for the formation of German compound nouns, while students in the implicit group failed to recognize such rules. This study has important implications for the acquisition of L2 vocabulary. The experiment shows that the acquisition of a lexicon is complex and requires varied types of instruction. In the case of German compound nouns, explicit instruction is shown to be more useful than implicit instruction or no instructional method.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Anna Tendera
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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