[PS-1.30] L2 learners? sensitivity to contrastive accents in memory for discourse

Lee, E. 1 & Fraundorf, S. 2

1 Yonsei University
2 University of Pittsburgh

Contrastive accents help native English speakers represent and remember salient alternatives in discourse (Fraundorf et al.,2010). We examined how contrastive accents affect second-language (L2) comprehenders? memory. Following Fraundorf et al. (2010), L1-Korean learners of English listened to discourses with a context passage establishing a pair of alternatives (e.g., Both the British and French scientists were looking for the endangered monkey), followed by a continuation referring to one alternative (Finally, the British scientists spotted the monkey). We manipulated whether this critical word in the continuation received a contrastive (L+H*) pitch accent. Participants? memory was later tested using a recognition task in which participants judged whether probe statements were true. Probes referred either to the correct statement (The British scientists found the endangered monkey), the contrastive alternative (The French scientists?), or a previously unmentioned item (The German scientists?). Contrastive accenting benefited memory only for high-proficiency L2 learners, suggesting a developmental effect. Further, even high-proficiency learners were non-native-like: Contrastive accents did not facilitate rejections of contrastive alternatives (as in L1), but rather rejections of unmentioned items. These results suggest that L2 learners distinguished salient alternatives from unmentioned items but that they failed to integrate the salient alternative into memory in a nativelike way.