Lexical production and organisation in L2 EFL and L3 EFL learners: a distributional semantic analysis of verbal fluency

  1. A. Fernández Fontecha 1
  2. R.M. Jiménez Catalán 1
  3. J. Ryan 2
  1. 1 Universidad de La Rioja

    Universidad de La Rioja

    Logroño, España

    ROR https://ror.org/0553yr311

  2. 2 Carleton College

    Carleton College

    Northfield, Estados Unidos

    ROR https://ror.org/03jep7677

International Journal of Multilingualism

Any de publicació: 2021

Tipus: Article

DOI: 10.1080/14790718.2021.2016770 SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-85122498432 GOOGLE SCHOLAR
Arxiu institucional: lockAccés obert editor


Cites rebudes

  • Cites en Scopus: 0 (06-06-2023)
  • Citas en Web of Science: 0 (20-05-2023)
  • Cites en Dimensions: 0 (22-03-2023)


(Dades actualitzats a data de 22-03-2023)
  • Cites totals: 0
  • Cites recents: 0
  • Field Citation Ratio (FCR): 0.0


Research is scarce about the lexical processes undertaken by thousands of L2 learners worldwide who already command one or more languages. Some aspects involved in lexical organisation and production, such as clustering and switching, have been traditionally approached through manual methods, which depend on subjective judgments of semantic relatedness between words. The present study seeks to provide a more objective exploration of EFL lexical production and organisation strategies of two rather similar groups of 12th grade learners of EFL as L2 and L3 via a distributional semantic analysis of semantic fluency. In addition to common measures of vocabulary performance, such as number of words produced, a series of lexical organisation and production strategies along with global and local semantic relatedness metrics will be examined. No differences were found about word frequency. While the L3 group used more word classes and cognates, and produced more idiosyncratic responses, the L2 group excelled in most semantic relatedness variables. These results might be due to the presence of the third language in the L3 group, which might be partly interacting with the other background languages. Evidence on these aspects may inform the development of precise language learning strategies adapted to the learner’s linguistic profile.

Referències bibliogràfiques

  • Agustín-Llach, M. (2019). The impact of bilingualism on the acquisition of an additional language: Evidence from lexical knowledge, lexical fluency, and (lexical) cross-linguistic influence. International Journal of Bilingualism, 23 (5), 888–900. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006917728818
  • Barnes, J., & García, I. (2013). Vocabulary growth and composition in and bilingual Basque infants and toddlers. International Journal of Bilingualism, 17 (3), 357–374. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006912438992
  • Bialystok, E., Craik, F. I. M., & Luk, G. (2008). Lexical access in bilinguals: Effects of vocabulary size and executive control. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 21 (6), 522–538. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroling.2007.07.001
  • Bialystok, E., Craik, F. I. M., & Luk, G. (2012). Bilingualism: Consequences for mind and brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16 (4), 240–250. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2012.03.001
  • Bialystok, E., & Luk, G. (2012). Receptive vocabulary differences in monolingual and bilingual adults. Bilingualism, Language and Cognition, 15 (2), 397–401. https://doi.org/10.1017/S136672891100040X
  • Blumenfeld, H. K., & Marian, V. (2007). Constraints on parallel activation in bilingual spoken language processing: Examining proficiency and lexical status using eye-tracking. Language and Cognitive Processes, 22 (5), 633–660. https://doi.org/10.1080/01690960601000746
  • Borodkin, K., Kenett, Y. N., Faust, M., & Mashal, N. (2016). When pumpkin is closer to onion than to squash: The structure of the second language lexicon. Cognition, 156, 60–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2016.07.014
  • Bose, A., Wood, R., & Kiran, S. (2017). Semantic fluency in aphasia: Clustering and switching in the course of 1 min. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 52 (3), 334–345. https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12276
  • Cenoz, J. (2013). The influence of bilingualism on third language acquisition: Focus on multilingualism. Language Teaching, 46 (1), 71–86. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444811000218
  • Collins, A. M., & Loftus, E. F. (1975). A spreading-activation theory of semantic processing. Psychological Review, 82 (6), 407–428. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.82.6.407
  • Cooper, M. C. (2008). Measuring the semantic distance between languages from a statistical analysis of bilingual dictionaries. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics, 15 (1), 1–33. https://doi.org/10.1080/09296170701794260
  • Costa, A., Colomé, A., Gomez, O., & Sebastian-Gallés, N. (2003). Another look at cross-language competition in bilingual speech production: Lexical and phonological factors. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 6 (3), 167–179. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728903001111
  • Costa, A., & Santesteban, M. (2004). Lexical access in bilingual speech production: Evidence from language switching in highly proficient bilinguals and L2 learners. Journal of Memory and Language, 50 (4), 491–511. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2004.02.002
  • De Deyne, S., Verheyen, S., & Storms, G. (2016). Structure and organization of the mental lexicon: A network approach derived from syntactic dependency relations and word associations. In A. Mehler, A. Lücking, S. Banisch, P. Blanchard, & B. Job (Eds.), Towards a theoretical framework for analyzing complex linguistic networks. Understanding Complex systems (pp. 47–79). Springer.
  • De Groot, A. (1992). Bilingual lexical representation: A closer look at conceptual representations. In R. Frost, & L. Katz (Eds.), Orthography, phonology, morphology, and meaning (pp. 389–412). Elsevier Science Publishers.
  • Dewaele, J. (1998). Lexical inventions: French interlanguage as L2 versus L3. Applied Linguistics, 19 (4), 471–490. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/19.4.471
  • Dijkstra, T. (2003). Lexical processing in bilinguals and multilinguals: The word selection problem. In J. Cenoz, B. Hufeisen, & U. Jessner (Eds.), The multilingual lexicon (pp. 11–26). Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Friesen, D. C., Luo, L., Luk, G., & Bialystok, E. (2015). Proficiency and control in verbal fluency performance across the lifespan for monolinguals and bilinguals. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 30 (3), 238–250. https://doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2014.918630
  • Gonçalves, H. A., Cargnin, C., Jacobsen, G. M., Kochhann, R., Joanette, Y., & Fonseca, R. P. (2017). Clustering and switching in unconstrained, phonemic and semantic verbal fluency: The role of age and school type. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 29 (6), 670–690. https://doi.org/10.1080/20445911.2017.1313259
  • Goñi, J., Arrondo, G., Sepulcre, J., Martincorena Iñigo, Vélez de Mendizábal Nieves, Corominas-Murtra Bernat, Bejarano Bartolomé, Ardanza-Trevijano Sergio, Peraita Herminia, Wall Dennis P., Villoslada Pablo (2011). The semantic organization of the animal category: Evidence from semantic verbal fluency and network theory. Cognitive Processing, 12 (2), 183–196. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10339-010-0372-x
  • Green, D. W. (1998). Mental control of the bilingual lexico-semantic system. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1 (2), 67–81. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728998000133
  • Grosjean, F. (2001). The bilingual's language modes. In J. Nicol (Ed.), One mind, two languages: Bilingual language processing (pp. 1–25). Blackwell.
  • Herwig, A. (2001). Plurilingual lexical organisation: Evidence from lexical processing in L1–L2–L3–L4 translation. In J. Cenoz, B. Hufeisen, & U. Jessner (Eds.), Cross-linguistic influence in third language acquisition: Psycholinguistic perspectives (pp. 115–137). Multilingual Matters.
  • Jiménez Catalán, R. M. (Ed.). (2013). Lexical availability in English and Spanish as a second language. Springer.
  • Jiménez Catalán, R. M., & Dewaele, J. M. (2017). Lexical availability of young Spanish EFL learners: Emotion words versus non-emotion words. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 30 (3), 283–299. https://doi.org/10.1080/07908318.2017.1327540
  • Jiménez Catalán, R. M., & Fernández-Fontecha, A. (2020). Lexical availability output in L2 and L3 EFL learners: Is there a difference. English Language Teaching, 12 (2), 77–87. https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v12n2p77
  • Jurgens, D., Mohammad, S., Turney, P., & Holyoak, K. (2012). Semeval-2012 task 2: Measuring degrees of relational similarity. * SEM 2012: The First Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics–Volume 1: Proceedings of the main conference and the shared task, and Volume 2: Proceedings of the Sixth International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation (SemEval 2012) (pp. 356–364).
  • Kellerman, E. (1983). Now you see it, now you don't. In S. Gass, & L. Selinker (Eds.), Language transfer in language learning (pp. 112–134). Newbury House.
  • Kroll, J., & De Groot, A. (1997). Lexical and conceptual memory in the bilingual: Mapping form to memory in two languages. In A. De Groot, & J. Kroll (Eds.), Tutorials in bilingualism: Psycholinguistic perspectives (pp. 169–199). Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • La Heij, W. (2005). Selection processes in monolingual and bilingual lexical access. In J. Kroll, & A. M. B. de Groot (Eds.), Handbook of bilingualism. Psycholinguistic approaches (pp. 289–307). Oxford University Press.
  • Landauer, T K, & Dumais, S T. (1997). A solution to Plato's problem: The latent semantic analysis theory of acquisition, induction, and representation of knowledge. Psychological review, 104 (2), 211–240. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.104.2.211.
  • Lee, M. W., & Williams, J. N. (2001). Lexical access in spoken word production by bilinguals: Evidence from the semantic competitor priming paradigm. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 4 (3), 233–248. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728901000426
  • Levelt, W. J. (1993). Speaking: From intention to articulation. MIT Press.
  • Luo, L., Luk, G., & Bialystok, E. (2010). Effect of language proficiency and executive control on verbal fluency performance in bilinguals. Cognition, 114 (1), 29–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2009.08.014
  • Mady, C. (2014). Learning French as a second official language in Canada: Comparing monolingual and bilingual students at grade 6. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 17 (3), 330–344. https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2013.767778
  • Meara, P. (2006). Emergent properties of multilingual lexicons. Applied Linguistics, 27 (4), 620–644. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/aml030
  • Mikolov, T., Chen, K., Corrado, G., & Dean, J. (2013b). Efficient estimation of word representations in vector space. International Conference on Learning Representations (2013) http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.3781
  • Mikolov, T., Sutskever, I., Chen, K., Corrado, G. S., & Dean, J. (2013a). Distributed representations of words and phrases and their compositionality. 21, 1–9.
  • Otwinowska, A. (2016). Cognate vocabulary in language acquisition and use. Multilingual Matters.
  • Pakhomov, S. V. S., & Hemmy, L. S. (2014). A computational linguistic measure of clustering behavior on semantic verbal fluency task predicts risk of future dementia in the nun study. Cortex, 55, 97–106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2013.05.009
  • Palapanidi, K. (2019). Manifestaciones de “clusters” y “switches” en el léxico disponible de aprendices griegos de ELE en diferentes niveles lingüísticos. marcoELE. Revista de Didáctica Español Lengua Extranjera, 28, 1–10.
  • Poulisse, N., & Bongaerts, T. (1994). First language use in second language production. Applied Linguistics, 15 (1), 36–57. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/15.1.36
  • Rosselli, M., Tappen, R., Williams, C., Salvatierra, J., & Zoller, Y. (2009). Level of education and category fluency task among Spanish speaking elders: Number of words, clustering, and switching strategies. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 16 (6), 721–744. https://doi.org/10.1080/13825580902912739
  • Ryan, J. O. (2013). A system for computerized analysis of verbal fluency tests. [Master’s thesis, University of Minnesota]. https://users.soe.ucsc.edu/~jor/publications/ryanMastersThesis.pdf
  • Ryan, J. O., Pakhomov, S., Marino, S., Bernick, C., & Banks, S. (2013). Computerized analysis of a verbal fluency test. Proceedings of the 51st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, vol. 2, 884–889.
  • Sanz, C. (2000). Bilingual education enhances third language acquisition: Evidence from Catalonia. Applied Psycholinguistics, 21 (1), 23–44. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716400001028
  • Scott, M. (2008). Wordsmith tools. Version 5. Lexical Analysis Software.
  • Starreveld, P. A., De Groot, A. M., Rossmark, B. M., & Van Hell, J. G. (2014). Parallel language activation during word processing in bilinguals: Evidence from word production in sentence context. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 17 (2), 258–276. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728913000308
  • Tomé Cornejo, C. (2015). Léxico disponible. Procesamiento y aplicación a la enseñanza de ELE. [Master’sthesis, Universidad de Salamanca]. https://goo.gl/vzwjjD
  • Troyer, A. K., Moscovitch, M., & Winocur, G. (1997). Clustering and switching as two components of verbal fluency: Evidence from younger and older healthy adults. Neuropsychology, 11 (1), 138–146. https://doi.org/10.1037/0894-4105.11.1.138
  • UCLES. (2001). Quick placement test. Version 2. Oxford University Press.
  • Wilks, C., & Meara, P. M. (2002). Untangling word webs: Graph theory and the notion of density in second language word association networks. Second Language Research, 18 (4), 303–324. https://doi.org/10.1191/0267658302sr203oa
  • Williams, S., & Hammarberg, B. (1998). Language switches in L3 production implications for a polyglot speaking model. Applied Linguistics, 19 (3), 295–333. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/19.3.295