[PS-2.7] Individual Differences in L2 Processing of Multi-Word Units: Effects of Working Memory and Personality

Kerz, E. 1 & Wiechmann, D. 2

1 RWTH Aachen University
2 University of Amsterdam

There is a growing body of evidence that knowledge of the statistics of multiword units (MWUs) facilitates native language learning and processing both in children and adults (cf., e.g., Shaoul & Westbury, 2011; Arnon, 2015, for overviews). However, less is known about whether adult second language (L2) learners are able to develop native-like sensitivity to the statistics of MWUs (but see, Hernández, Fabra & Arnon, 2016) and, if so, to what extent the variation in this ability is related to individual differences in cognitive and personality variables. We investigated adult L2 English learners' (N=63) sensitivity to the frequency of MWUs using the same phrasal-decision task (PDT) as in Arnon and Snider (2010). In contrast to Hernandez et al. (2016), we could replicate the MWU frequency effect only for the high-frequency range. We then explored the relationships of L2 processing of MWUs to verbal working memory (vWM), as gauged by a reading span task (Waters & Caplan, 1996) and to personality, as measured by the Big Five Inventory (John, Naumann & Soto, 2008). A significant positive effect of the openness personality trait was found, whereas no effect was found for vWM.