L2 proficiency and L2 dialect processing during study abroad
Christine Shea, Ph.D.
In this chapter, we examine how proficiency and L2 dialect processing interact over the course of a three-month study abroad program in Buenos Aires, Argentina in L1 English/L2 Spanish learners. To measure dialect processing changes, participants completed an auditory form-priming task in which primes and targets were taken from Mexican and Buenos Aires Spanish. The pretest results show differences within and across proficiency levels for dialect processing, as do the posttests. This study adds to the literature on advancedness and language acquisition by highlighting how dialect-specific knowledge develops over the course of study abroad and how advanced learners (vs. less-advanced) develop dialect-specific representations. 

Keywords: advanced L2 proficiency, dialect processing, dialect representation, study abroad


Mapping different L1 dialects to L2 words
Christine Shea, Ph.D.
We ask how dialect experience affects the perception of modified L2 words by speakers of different L1 dialects. Colombian Spanish speakers from Barranquilla (s-aspirating dialect) and Bogota (non-s-aspirating dialect) carried out cross-dialect phonological priming experiments in Spanish and L2 English. For Spanish, primes and targets were counterbalanced across dialect features. For English, half the primes and targets exhibited /s/-aspiration of the Barranquilla dialect. Results showed an interaction between trial type and group for the s-aspirated forms; the Barranquilla group showed a significant priming effect in Spanish and also for the nonword /s/-aspirated forms in English. Further analysis revealed that the priming effect for English /s/-aspirated forms was attenuated in Barranquilla listeners with greater English proficiency. These results show that second language listeners transfer abstract native language dialect knowledge to L2 input even when this knowledge is not directly part of the L2 input, providing evidence for the transfer of abstract, socially-indexed knowledge to the processing of L2.

Keywords: Spanish, phonological form priming, second language, variability, dialects

Spanish speakers' English schwar production: Does orthography play a role? 
Christine Shea, Ph.D.
Abstract This study examines how input mode – whether written or auditory – interacts with orthography in the production of North American English (NAE) schwar (/ɝ/, found in fur, heard, bird) by native Spanish speakers. Greater orthographic interference was predicted for written input, given the obligatory activation of orthographic representations in the execution of the task. Participants were L1 Mexican Spanish/L2 English speakers (L2, n = 15) and NAE (n = 15, rhotic dialect speakers). The target items were 10 schwar words and 10 words matched in graphemes to the onset and nucleus of the schwar words (e.g., bird was matched with big), for a total of 20 items. The degree of overlap between schwar productions across group and input mode (L2 only) was analyzed, followed by a generalized additive mixed model analysis of F3, one of the acoustic cues to rhotacization. Results showed that L2 schwar productions were different from the NAE productions in both the overlap and F3 measures, and the written input mode showed greater L1 orthographic interference than the auditory input mode, supporting the hypothesis that L1 orthography–phonology correspondences affect L2 productions of English schwar words.

Keywords: plain vowels; neutral vowels; English schwar; L2 English; L1 Spanish; pronunciation

Within- and between-language competition in adult second language learners: implications for language proficiency
Christine Shea, Ph.D.
Second language (L2) learners must not only acquire L2 knowledge (i.e. vocabulary and grammar), but they must also rapidly access this knowledge. In monolinguals, efficient spoken word recognition is accomplished via lexical competition, by which listeners activate a range of candidates that compete for recognition as the signal unfolds. We examined this in adult L2 learners, investigating lexical competition both amongst words of the L2, and between L2 and native language (L1) words. Adult L2 learners (N = 33) in their third semester of college Spanish completed a cross-linguistic Visual World Paradigm task to assess lexical activation, along with a proficiency assessment (LexTALE-Esp). L2 learners showed typical incremental processing activating both within-L2 and cross-linguistic competitors, similar to fluent bilinguals. Proficiency correlated with both the speed of activating the target (which prior work links to the developmental progression in L1) and the degree to which competition ultimately resolves (linked to robustness of the lexicon).

Keywords: Second language acquisition; spoken word recognition; lexical competition; language proficiency; visual world paradigm