This study examines the impact of a second language on event phase categorisation. The aim is to test how strong a boost the L2 system provides when learners are trained to classify events in a new way. The linguistic contrast in focus is grammatical expression of change-of-state events in progress, available in English but far less so in Chinese. Advanced Chinese learners of English received categorisation training in four conditions: action-biased, completion-biased, verbally-distracted and with overt L2 encoding. Experiment 1 tested the extent to which event categorisation is facilitated by the learners’ native language. Experiment 2 compared learning success in L2-based categorisation with and without verbal interference. Experiment 3 measured the benefits of explicit verbalisation for L2-based category learning. The results show a graded impact of L2 grammar on learning success, ranging from the highest with overt verbalisation, followed by categorisation in silence, and the lowest, but not significantly reduced, in learning with verbal interference.
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- event categorisation
- perceptual learning
- linguistic relativity