HL2C-SLLAT Seminar: Cindy Ge, Padraic Monaghan, and Patrick Rebuschat (Lancaster)

Wednesday 7 December 2022, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


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Event Details

HL2C-SLLAT Seminar: Cindy Ge, Padraic Monaghan, and Patrick Rebuschat (Lancaster)

Title: The role of phonology is L2 word learning: Evidence from cross-situational statistical learning

Presenter(s): Cindy Ge, Padraic Monaghan, and Patrick Rebuschat (Lancaster)

How to join: The seminars are free to attend. Simply sign up to the HL2C Mailing List or to the SLLAT mailing list to receive the link to join us via Microsoft Teams link. You do not need a Teams account to access the talk.

About: This is a joint event, co-organized by the Heritage Language 2 Consortium (HL2C) and the Second Language Learning and Teaching (SLLAT) Research Group.


Previous studies have shown that language learners can pick up new words rapidly from cross-situational statistical learning, where learners keep track of the linguistic information across multiple situations to aid word learning (e.g., Monaghan, Schoetensack, & Rebuschat, 2019; Smith & Yu, 2008; Suanda & Namy, 2012; Yu & Smith, 2007). However, there is little research on whether this implicit learning technique can be extended to the L2 learning context, where the new phonology may interfere with learning (e.g., Tuninetti, Mulak & Escudero, 2020). The current study thus investigates whether and how the phonological properties of words influence L2 word learning. Specifically, we tested if the existence of minimal pairs (i.e., phonologically similar words) and non-native sounds (e.g., lexical tones) influence cross-situational word learning. We found that minimal pairs posed difficulty in learning, and those with non-native contrasts were even harder to acquire. The findings suggest that L2 learners can acquire words via cross-situational statistical learning, but the learning effect is inhibited when words sound similar or contain unfamiliar contrasts. To acquire L2 contrasts that are not shared in learners’ L1, more exposure and explicit interventions may be needed.


  • Monaghan, P., Schoetensack, C., & Rebuschat, P. (2019). A single paradigm for implicit and statistical learning. Topics in cognitive science, 11(3), 536-554.
  • Smith, L., & Yu, C. (2008). Infants rapidly learn word-referent mappings via cross-situational statistics. Cognition, 106(3), 1558-1568.
  • Suanda, S. H., & Namy, L. L. (2012). Detailed behavioral analysis as a window into cross‐situational word learning. Cognitive Science, 36(3), 545-559.
  • Tuninetti, A., Mulak, K. E., & Escudero, P. (2020). Cross-situational word learning in two foreign languages: effects of native language and perceptual difficulty. Frontiers in Communication, 5, 602471.
  • Yu, C., & Smith, L. B. (2007). Rapid word learning under uncertainty via cross-situational statistics. Psychological science, 18(5), 414-420.

Contact Details

Name Patrick Rebuschat




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