A new paper by Marta Marecka, Jakub Szewczyk, Agnieszka Otwinowska, Joanna Durlik, Małgorzata Foryś-Nogala, Katarzyna Kutyłowska and Zofia Wodniecka is now available: False friends or real friends? False cognates show advantage in word form learning. Click here for more information!
We explored the acquisition of three types of second language (L2) words in a paired–associates learning task. Seventy–six Polish participants were presented with 24 nonwords paired with pictures; they completed 8 interleaving test blocks of form production and meaning recognition, both followed by feedback. The nonwords included “cognates” (nonwords resembling the Polish word for the object depicted in a given picture), “false cognates” (resembling a different Polish word than depicted), and “non–cognates” (nonwords different from Polish words). We measured the learning trajectories for all word types across the blocks. Cognates were fastest to learn in the recognition blocks as well as in the production blocks. Compared to non–cognates, false cognates were learned equally fast in the recognition blocks, but faster in the production blocks. This suggests the learning of false cognates benefits from the overlap in L1–L2 form and is not harmed by L1 interference, while the learning of cognates benefits from both form overlap and conceptual overlap. The study is unique as it examines how learners acquire both the form of new words, and the link between the L2 forms and their meanings. It also explores the dynamics of the learning process.