Doctoral Dissertation Research: Online and offline investigations of the effects of prosodic and morphosyntactic cues on acquisition in L2 German

Project: Research project

Project Details


Second language acquisition is often assumed to depend on the processing of linguistic forms (cues) and the development of connections between these cues and their meanings. Consequently, it is important to understand the strategies that learners use to process cues during sentence comprehension and if attention to these cues hinders or promotes acquisition. Previous research has focused on how reliance on lexical-semantic cues and the use of real-world knowledge may impede the acquisition and use of grammatical cues. Yet little attention has been paid to prosodic cues, such as stress, accent, and intonation. Despite the fact that they often function as important cues to grammatical forms and syntactic structure, few studies have investigated if meaningful interaction with prosodic cues could promote the acquisition of grammatical cues. This dissertation compares the effects of training on the acquisition and use of the German accusative case and object-first word order using three different training types: (1) grammatical cues only; (2) grammatical cues accompanied by prosodic cues, or (3) no explicit manipulation of linguistic cues. After training, participants will complete comprehension and production tests to measure if their accuracy in comprehending and producing German case markings, and that will also track how they process sentences moment-by-moment. Together, these tests will determine if training increases the attention learners devote to syntactic cues during sentence comprehension.

This research has several broader implications beyond contributing to the research on second language sentence processing and prosody. Particularly, this research could inform the development of classroom teaching materials and pedagogical models, and whether prosodic training should accompany grammatical instruction to promote the acquisition of grammatical forms, whenever prosodic and grammatical cues are closely aligned. The project will also enhance the training of a graduate student.

Effective start/end date2/15/131/31/15


  • National Science Foundation: $12,930.00


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