Investigating real-time sentence processing in the second language


  • Leah Roberts Centre for Language and Cognition (CLCG), Faculty of Arts & Research School for Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences (BCN), University Medical Centre; University of Groningen


Second language (L2) acquisition researchers have always been concerned with what L2 learners know about the grammar of the target language but more recently there has been growing interest in how L2 learners put this knowledge to use in real-time sentence comprehension. In order to investigate real-time L2 sentence processing, the types of constructions studied and the methods used are often borrowed from the field of monolingual processing, but the overall issues are familiar from traditional L2 acquisition research. These cover questions relating to L2 learners’ native-likeness, whether or not L1 transfer is in evidence, and how individual differences such as proficiency and language experience might have an effect. The aim of this paper is to provide for those unfamiliar with the field, an overview of the findings of a selection of behavioral studies that have investigated such questions, and to offer a picture of how L2 learners and bilinguals may process sentences in real time.