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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Deep in the Trenches: First language performance predicts primacy in statistical learning of two structures


While statistical learning is a well-established language learning mechanism, its usefulness in multiple language contexts is more unknown. A phenomenon known as entrenchment has been proposed, in which learning one language prevents the acquisition of a second language in the same speech stream. The observed L1 advantage or primacy effect has been previously mitigated with various cues to the presence of a second structure (L2). The present study manipulates the number of transitions between L1 and L2 to influence entrenchment. One condition was designed to replicate previous findings of entrenchment and the other was designed to overcome entrenchment. We find that adding more transitions between languages did not increase L2 learning, and second language learning is more dependent on the first learned language than on manipulations of the transitions between languages.

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