Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Pui Fong Kan

Second Advisor

Bhuvana Narasimhan

Third Advisor

Christina Meyers



This study examined the interactions between Mandarin and English in Mandarin-speaking English language learners. In my preliminary study (Cheng, Yamashita, & Kan, 2015), a group of Mandarin-speaking English learners (n = 32) were tested with a two-stage cross-linguistic priming test. The results showed that participants responded to the English words that were previously presented in their stronger language (in Mandarin; L1). The findings suggested that priming in a stronger language affects the subsequent processing in a speaker’s weaker language. In this study, I further examined the cross-linguistic priming effects across various priming conditions. There were four experiments in this study: In Experiment 1, a cross-linguistic non-masked priming task was used to examine the priming effect of the L2 on L1 processing in Mandarin-English bilinguals. In Experiment 2, I compared the results of Experiment 1 to the results of Cheng et al. (2015). The focus was on whether a cross-linguistic non-masked priming effect held if participants were primed in their L2 (i.e., English) and completed the lexical decision task in their L1 (i.e., Mandarin). In Experiment 3, a cross-linguistic masked priming task was used to test a priming effects of the weaker language on the stronger language in Mandarin-English bilinguals. In Experiment 4, by comparing the results of Experiments 1 and 3, I examined whether differences in performance across the cross-linguistic tasks were due to differences in the non-masked and masked priming tasks. The results of Experiment 1 showed a priming effect of speakers’ weaker language on their stronger language. A comparison to Cheng et al.'s (2015) results showed that different priming directions were not significantly influential on participants' response accuracy, but did influence reaction times (Experiment 2). The results of Experiment 3 showed a masked priming effect of the weaker language on the stronger language. Comparing Experiment 1 and Experiment 3, I found that the different types of priming tasks did not significantly affect participants' performance differently (Experiment 4). This study provides additional information about the language interactions in bilinguals who speak Mandarin and English.