5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

The Effect Of Background Knowledge On First And Second Language Comprehension Difficulty

Michael D. Tyler

University of New South Wales, Australia

First and proficient second language users listened to a passage while concurrently performing a calculation verification task. The number of correct calculations achieved in the dual-task was compared to a single-task condition to index difficulty of language comprehension. Access to background knowledge was manipulated between participants by the presentation of a topic sentence. The difference between first and second language comprehension difficulty was greater when background knowledge was unavailable than when it was available. As each participant relied solely upon information from the speech signal for comprehension when the topic of the passage was not provided, it was concluded that the processes involved in decoding the speech signal generally consume more resources in second language than first language users.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Tyler, Michael D. (1998): "The effect of background knowledge on first and second language comprehension difficulty", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0833.