Talking Japanese: Semantic integration of words from a second language.

Bartlett, K. 1 , Henderson, L. 1 , Weighall, A. 2 & Gaskell, G. 1

1 University of York
2 University of Leeds

Research into memory consolidation for newly learnt vocabulary suggests that for children, like adults, phonological forms begin to compete with existing lexical items after sleep (e.g., Henderson et al., 2012, 2013). However, previous developmental studies have neglected to explore the extent to which semantic integration follows a similar time-course. In the current study semantic priming was used to assess the development of semantic links between newly learnt L2 words and existing semantic knowledge over the course of a week. English children aged 7-9 learned spoken Japanese words after which semantic integration was tested via cross-modal semantic priming immediately after training, the following day and one week later. Auditory prime stimuli were presented either in English (e.g., dog) or Japanese (e.g., inu) and were followed by English semantically related (e.g., cat) or unrelated (e.g., table) target pictures for naming. Priming effects were evident for English prime stimuli at all testing sessions but only emerged for Japanese primes after one week. These results support previous findings with adults (Tamminen & Gaskell, 2013) and are in line with systems consolidation theories that suggest memory consolidation is an extended process, with the duration of the consolidation period dependent on the nature of the material.