Reading between the words: The effect of literacy on second language lexical segmentation

Naomi Havron*, Inbal Arnon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


There is evidence that the ability to segment an utterance into words improves with literacy, yet previous research makes it difficult to disentangle the effect of literacy from that of age or cognitive abilities. We tested the hypothesis that literacy increases lexical segmentation in a second language in a unique sample of adult illiterates learning to read in their second language, controlling for cognitive abilities and using a task that taps language processing rather than only metalinguistic awareness. Participants' segmentation was correlated with first language reading at the beginning of an intensive literacy course for illiterate adults. At the end of the course, those learning to read for the first time benefited more in terms of their segmentation abilities. We discuss implications for models of second language learning.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)127-153
Number of pages27
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by ISF Grant 52712 (to I.A.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Cambridge University Press.


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