Chapter 8. Task effects in second language sentence processing research

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This chapter explores the ways in which secondary tasks utilized in on-line sentence processing experiments can influence second language (L2) learners’ processing behavior. After a brief introduction to sentence processing and the self-paced reading methodology, we present data from a self-paced reading study that investigates how task type (comprehension questions vs. grammaticality judgment tasks) affect intermediate L2 Spanish learners processing of two types of grammatical violations: noun-adjective gender agreement and subject-verb inversion in wh-questions. Our findings suggest that, for some structures, certain secondary tasks commonly used in sentence processing research can indeed influence how L2 learners’ process morpho-syntactic violations during comprehension. We discuss the implications of our findings for L2 learning research, as well as for L2 instruction.


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