Enhancing foreign language learning

A study looks at how ambiguity in lexical forms and word meanings function across languages of multilingual persons and foreign language learners. It can help create a better understanding of the patterns of interaction between speakers, which is highly useful in today's global society.

Many people in the world today know and use more than one language in their daily lives. Additionally, people are encouraged and sometimes required to learn a foreign language for their work place advancement. Therefore, ensuring efficient methods of language learning instruction is key.

Ambiguity within and across languages is often present when mapping lexical forms and word meanings. This poses a challenge for learners who need to manage links between languages to create an interconnectedness to facilitate language representation. AMBIGUITY IN FLVL (Ambiguity in foreign language vocabulary learning) is an EU-funded project focusing on such challenges involved in the learning and representation of words.

One main objective is to exploring the consequences of foreign language vocabulary learning on meaning representations of first-language words. Additionally, researchers are working to identify the types of ambiguity that create challenges and testing different instruction methods that can help alleviate difficulties.

Two studies were conducted with Arabic-Hebrew bilinguals. Further work has resulted in publications on translation ambiguity, which occurs when a given word has more than one translation in the other language. Study findings show that there is an influence from the unintended language even when bilinguals operate in contexts that require one language only.

The ways in which lexical form overlap and translation ambiguity impacts learners at the beginning stages of foreign vocabulary learning has also been studied. This has resulted in discovering a set of Arabic words that vary in their relation to Hebrew. These have been implemented in teaching native Hebrew speakers and Russian Hebrew bilinguals in multiple training studies.

Results are expected in the near future and more attention will be given to how learning Arabic words influences the processing of Hebrew words.

last modification: 2016-01-26

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