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Investigating the lexical load of proper names for L2 English readers

Klassen, Kimberly 2018. Investigating the lexical load of proper names for L2 English readers. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The central question addressed is whether proper names present a strain for second language (L2) readers. Answering this question helps to establish the soundness of a widely held assumption in L2 vocabulary research, that L2 readers can easily recognise and understand proper names from the form (capitalisation) and function (context) in a text. The investigation is motivated by classroom experience that contradicts this assumption, suggesting a need for reconsideration of how proper names are handled in L2 vocabulary research and language pedagogy. The assumption was approached from three angles using a series of experiments. First,interviews were conducted to investigate how L2 readers perceive proper names and what strategies they use. Another study investigated how L2 readers approach unfamiliar proper names while reading, and found some L2 readers treat proper names as vocabulary to check in a dictionary. The second direction investigated the effect of L2 proper names on higher-level comprehension processes. Two studies compared the effect of culturally familiar and unfamiliar proper names on comprehension, and found no effect for culturally familiar proper names on global comprehension. The third approach considered proper name processing in terms of lower-level reading skills (i.e. word recognition and sub-skills). A study was conducted to determine to what extent L2 readers can identify proper names in context and found that participants were not very successful at using context to identify proper names. Three main claims are based on these results. First, proper names can disrupt reading in that some L2 readers treat them as unknown vocabulary to look up. Second, proper names do not seem to impact global comprehension. Third, L2 readers are not very successful in correctly identifying proper names from context. Based on these results, L2 vocabulary researchers and teachers should consider the potential burden proper names can place on L2 readers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 October 2018
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2019 02:44

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