P. Schröter and S. Schroeder

Differences in visual word recognition between l1 and l2 speakers: The impact of length, frequency, and orthographic neighborhood size in german children.

Studies in Second Language Acquisition

Abstract Investigating the impact of linguistic characteristics on visual word recognition in children, we studied whether differences in native (L1) and second language (L2) processing already emerge at the beginning of reading development. German elementary school students in grades 2 to 6 completed a battery of standardized tests and a lexical decision task (LDT). Though L1 speakers outperformed L2 speakers on German skills, groups did not differ in their overall performance on the LDT. However, results from mixed-effect models revealed greater effects for word frequency and length in L2 over L1 speakers, indicating qualitative differences in the sensitivity to linguistic information between groups. This distinction persisted across all grades and after controlling for differences in vocabulary size and reading fluency. Findings extend evidence provided for adult L2 processing, suggesting that varying language exposure shapes the development of the word-recognition system already in the early stages of reading development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)