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Languages 2016, 1(2), 10; doi:10.3390/languages1020010

Listening for Imagery by Native Speakers and L2 Learners

Department of Languages, Cultures, and International Trade, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 1000 Faner Drive, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
Academic Editors: Tej K. Bhatia and Usha Lakshmanan
Received: 24 June 2016 / Revised: 12 August 2016 / Accepted: 24 August 2016 / Published: 16 September 2016
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Abstract

Slobin’s thinking-for-speaking (TFS) hypothesis suggests that speakers are habitually attuned to aspects of an event that are readily codable in the language while they are formulating speech. This TFS process varies considerably cross-linguistically and can be observed in all forms of production and reception including listening for understanding or mental imagery. This study explored whether second language learners (L2) engage in mental simulation of deictic paths while processing motion language online. Forty Chinese native speakers (NSs) and eighty English-speaking learners of L2 Chinese participated in an online judgment task. They listened to motion sentences containing deictic paths while simultaneously watching a motion display of a toward- or away-direction. Since simultaneous presentation of the sentence and the display of the same directionality require the same neural structures to process competing inputs, interference effects are expected and the reaction time to respond should take longer. Results of repeated measures ANOVA show interference effects for the NSs, but not for the L2 learners of both heritage and foreign language backgrounds, suggesting that while the NSs were sensitive to the deictic cues and automatically performed mental simulations of the deictic paths, the L2 learners’ listening for imagery did not pattern with the NSs. The results added to our understanding of L2 learners’ development of TFS in the new modality of listening for imagery. View Full-Text
Keywords: thinking for speaking; mental simulation; mental imagery; deictic paths; motion events; heritage language learners thinking for speaking; mental simulation; mental imagery; deictic paths; motion events; heritage language learners
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Wu, S.-L. Listening for Imagery by Native Speakers and L2 Learners. Languages 2016, 1, 10.

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