Exploring the nature of phonological weakness in low-proficiency second language learners

Katy Borodkin, Omer Maliniak, Miriam Faust

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Low-proficiency second language (L2) learners have a weakness in native language (L1) phonological processing. The hypothesis that this weakness stems from deficient phonological access was tested using a tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) experimental paradigm with implicit phonological priming. Phonological priming may facilitate the accessibility of phonological representations, thus temporarily cancelling out the deficiency and increasing the resolution of TOT naming failures. Twenty low-proficiency and 22 high-proficiency L2 learners were asked to name objects in their L1. They could correctly name the target, do not know the target word, or report being in a TOT state. On some of the latter trials, they were primed with a pseudoword phonologically related to the target. Phonological priming increased TOT states resolution in high-proficiency but not low-proficiency learners. No priming effects were observed when participants did not know the target word. Thus, our results do not provide evidence linking low L2 proficiency with deficient phonological access.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.


  • Implicit phonological priming
  • Naming
  • Phonological access
  • Second language proficiency
  • Tip-of-the-tongue


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the nature of phonological weakness in low-proficiency second language learners'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this