First exposure learners make use of top-down lexical knowledge when learning words

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Learning another language requires learning a new lexicon. Current second language acquisition theories make different predictions about the relative importance of L2 experience and L1 knowledge when learning new words. In a study of first exposure learners, clear effects of knowledge of L1 words were found. However, rapid learning after minimal exposure to continuous speech was also found, even when target words contained novel L2 sounds. Results show both the powerful role of L1 lexical knowledge on L2 word learning and the rapid rate at which sound forms are created and mapped to referents. This suggests that a more nuanced approach to discussion of frequency effects and transfer is needed.


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