Modality effect in L1 and L2 word recognition among French late learners of English.

Modality effect in L1 and L2 word recognition among French late learners of English.

First Author: Camille Cornut -- SCALab
Additional authors/chairs: 
Gwendoline Mahe ; Séverine Casalis
Keywords: visual word recognition, Bilingualism, Modality, Lexical Decision, University students
Abstract / Summary: 

Contrary to first language (L1) learning, second language (L2) learning is characterized by the importance of written modality – regarding oral one – in school context. Therefore, one might expect a modality effect, with written words being more accurately recognized than spoken ones, especially among low to moderate proficiency late L2 learners (see for trilinguals: Veivo & Jarvikivi, 2017). The first objective of this study is to highlight this effect. For this purpose, we conducted a lexical decision task in both modalities in English as an L2 among 49 French university students, including 44 words and 44 pseudowords matched on length, neighbourhood and frequency. Mean accuracy was 77%. Findings showed a session effect (indicating a transfer between modalities) but no interaction with modality (no greater influence of one modality on the other one). Most importantly, a modality effect has been evidenced in L2, with an increase of 8% in accuracy for written modality. In order to determine the extent to which this modality effect could appear also in L1 (especially considering infrequent words), we conducted another lexical decision task in French. The same participants performed, in both modalities, this second task including 41 words and 41 pseudowords matched according to the same parameters as in the first task. No modality effect emerged in L1, even though the whole accuracy score (87%) precludes any interpretation in terms of ceiling effect. In all, this study highlighted a strong modality effect in L2 among late learners, while no effect was observed in L1.