We are delighted to announce our Keynote for 2022:
Interfaces between morphology and phonology in the acquisition of a second language
Nick Henry, The University of Texas at Austin
In order to acquire a second language (L2), learners must be able to detect linguistic forms (or ‘cues’) in the input and link those forms to meaning. Over the past four decades, research on L2 input processing has identified numerous psycholinguistic principles that describe how learners make use of limited linguistic knowledge to process and interpret sentences. For example, research has shown that lower-level learners tend to rely on content words and real-world knowledge to make meaning, rather than actively attending to morphological forms like case or gender in German. However, this research has often neglected the critical role that phonology plays in learners’ ability to detect, identify, and process linguistic cues for meaning.
In this talk, I will present research that explores how phonology impacts the acquisition of morphology in a second language. In the first portion of the talk, I focus on a recent study that investigates how a learners’ individual knowledge of L2 German phonology impacts their ability to detect and acquire cues to grammatical gender. In the second portion of the talk, I describe a series of studies that investigate the relationship between prosody (i.e., intonation) and case morphology in L1 German processing and in the acquisition of German as an L2. Together these studies show that the ability to use phonetic information is critical to the development of L2 grammar, and that the link between them can be exploited during L2 instruction. Thus, this research has implications both for theoretical constructs within L2 research, and for language pedagogy.
Nick Henry is an Assistant Professor of Second Language Studies in the Department of Germanic Studies at UT Austin and is the director for the German language program. His research focuses on the interaction between sentence processing and second language pedagogy. This research centers on understanding the effects of psycholinguistically motivated instructional techniques and describing how learners process input to construct meaning. His work has appeared in journals such as Studies in Second Language Acquisition, the Modern Language Journal, Second Language Studies, and International Review of Applied Linguistics.