Processing strategies and the comprehension of sentence-level input by L2 learners of German

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Abstract

This study investigates how L2 learners of German (English L1) process structural and semantic information when reading German sentences. In a timed comprehension task, intermediate and advanced L2 learners of German read sentences that varied according to word order (subject-first versus object-first) and subject animacy (inanimate subject versus animate subject). Both learner groups exhibited higher comprehension rates and faster reading times for sentences with an inanimate subject, and higher comprehension rates for subject-first compared to object-first sentences. Only among the advanced L2 learners did this subject-first preference translate into significant reading time differences. Comprehension rates for advanced L2 learners were also higher than for intermediate L2 learners in sentences with an animate subject. The results suggest that while both learner groups adopted semantic-based processing strategies, the advanced L2 learners were better able to utilize structural-based strategies to interpret case markings and word order when completing the task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-406
Number of pages19
JournalSystem
Volume36
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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