image of Productive phonological bootstrapping in early EFL of 4th-graders in German primary schools
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It has been suggested that learners can use their phonological knowledge receptively in other linguistic domains, for instance to support lexical acquisition, a process referred to as “phonological bootstrapping” ( ). However, research on productive phonological processes in early foreign language acquisition has been rare. The present study addresses this gap and shows that phonology functions as a deliberate productive resource to compensate for lexical limitations in early foreign language acquisition. 184 4th grade students learning English at German primary schools were asked to tell a picture story in English. Findings show that the majority of learners use a strategy we name “productive phonological bootstrapping” to fill lexical gaps by adapting German items to the English sound system. Similar phonological phenomena as in other language contact domains occur in a combination with manipulations based on differences between German and English, suggesting an interplay of universal and language-specific processes.


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