Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Scott A. Crossley (1), Tom Salsbury (2), Danielle S. McNamara (3): The development of semantic relations in second language speakers: A case for Latent Semantic Analysis VIAL. Number 7/2010: 55-74.


This study explores how a Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) index provided by Coh-Metrix can be used as a method to examine the development of lexical networks in second language (L2) speakers. Using the LSA index along with an index of lexical development (lexical diversity), a measure of general linguistic development (TOEFL scores) and indices of lexical overlap in a yearlong longitudinal study, this study demonstrates that semantic similarity along with TOEFL and lexical diversity values significantly increase as learners study a second language. Measures of word overlap did not demonstrate significant growth. The findings demonstrate that the LSA value reported by Coh-Metrix can be used to approximate lexical growth and that L2 learners likely begin to develop tighter semantic relations between utterances and words within a short period of time. This finding implies the growth of lexical networks. This study also has important implications for the development of coherent speech patterns in L2 learners.

Keywords: Latent Semantic Analysis, Lexical Networks, Corpus Linguistics, Lexical Proficiency, Computational Linguistics, MTLD.

(1) Mississippi State University, U.S.A. (2) Washington State University, U.S.A. (3) University of Memphis, U.S.A

Back to Contents of Number 7

Download full text of this article in pdf format