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The Language Hoax

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Language and Development in Africa

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Dissertation Information


Title: Second Language lexical Acquisition: A matter of depth of processing or of multiple retrieval? Add Dissertation
Author: Paul Bailey Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Swansea University, Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics
Completed in: 2012
Linguistic Subfield(s): Language Acquisition;
Director(s): Paul Meara

Abstract: This thesis investigates the predictions of Barcroft’s type of processing-
resource allocation (TOPRA) model. The TOPRA model contends that
in order to learn a second/foreign language word, one must complete
three subprocesses. These are processing for form, processing for
meaning, and form-meaning mapping. The model posits that
corresponding amounts of one of these types of processing leads to
corresponding amounts of learning. Thus, semantic processing will
lead to the learning of meanings, while structural processing will lead to
the learning of word forms. The model contends that human beings are
limited capacity processers, so in learning a foreign language,
excessive processing in one of these areas drains resources that could
be used for processing and subsequent learning in other areas.
Therefore, excessive semantic processing can be detrimental to
learning the structural properties of a word during the initial stages of
foreign language lexical acquisition. Indeed, the main thrust of
Barcroft’s research in the area has been to demonstrate the
detrimental effects of semantic processing. He has proposed that
learners should not be forced to undertake activities involving semantic
elaboration during the initial stages of learning new words. The series
of studies conducted during the present thesis found some support for
the predictions of the TOPRA model when Barcroft’s experimental
paradigm was followed. However, at the same time, the studies here
found many conflicting results to the predictions of the model.
Therefore, the scope of the model seems to be limited. Furthermore, it
is contended that multiple retrieval of words rather than the amount of
their structural or semantic processing is a more important determinant
of second language lexical acquisition.