On Chinese EFL Learners’ Homonym Processing in Relation to Their Organization of L2 Mental Lexicon

Xiumei Yu, Zhenyu Xu, Lan Sun


Based on the models of lexical ambiguity resolution and the organization of L2 mental lexicon proposed by previous researchers in recent years, this paper aimed at investigating the correlation between the Chinese EFL learners’ homonym processing in relation to their organization of L2 mental lexicon through cross-modal sentence-priming lexical decision tasks and word association tasks completed by both English major and non-English major students. The results showed that there is a positive correlation between the learners’ organization of L2 mental lexicon and their performance on English homonym processing. Inferential statistic analysis indicates that learners whose L2 mental lexicon is more syntagmatically related can process the English homonym more effectively. They can use contextual cues (semantic and syntactic information) to deactivate inappropriate meanings while low proficiency learners may be slower and less effective in using the sentence context cues needed for disambiguation. Therefore, it has been tentatively indicated that effective spreading activation of a word during reading and listening is important and helpful for learners’ comprehension, and pedagogically suggested that consciously categorizing syntagmatically related words in L2 mental lexicon during teaching and learning new English words can help reconstruct lexical networks so as to correctly and quickly retrieve the words from the mental lexicon in a certain context and better understand the meaning of the whole context in reading and listening.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/ijel.v1n2p40

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)   E-mail: ijel@ccsenet.org

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