Date of Thesis



This research tests the hypothesis that knowledge of derivational morphology facilitates vocabulary acquisition in beginning adult second language learners. Participants were mono-lingual English-speaking college students aged 18 years and older enrolled inintroductory Spanish courses. Knowledge of Spanish derivational morphology was tested through the use of a forced-choice translation task. Spanish lexical knowledge was measured by a translation task using direct translation (English word) primes and conceptual (picture) primes. A 2x2x2 mixed factor ANOVA examined the relationships between morphological knowledge (strong, moderate), error type (form-based, conceptual), and prime type (direct translation, picture). The results are consistent with the existence of a relationship between knowledge of derivational morphology andacquisition of second language vocabulary. Participants made more conceptually-based errors than form-based errors F (1,22)=7.744, p=.011. This result is consistent with Clahsen & Felser’s (2006) and Ullman’s (2004) models of second language processing. Additionally, participants with Strong morphological knowledge made fewer errors onthe lexical knowledge task than participants with Moderate morphological knowledge t(23)=-2.656, p=.014. I suggest future directions to clarify the relationship between morphological knowledge and lexical development in adult second language learners.


second language acquisition, Spanish, morphology

Access Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Ruth Tincoff



Included in

Psychology Commons