SLLAT presents: John Rogers on 'Implicit Learning of L2 Morphology'

Date: 16 October 2013 Time: 15.30-17.00 pm

Venue: Bowland North, SR 13

Second Language Learning and Teaching research group (SLLAT) presents:

Speaker: John Rogers

Title: Implicit Learning of L2 Morphology

Abstract: Recent years have witnessed an increasing interest in the incidental learning of L2 grammar. While much of this research has focused on the acquisition of noun-determiner systems (e.g., Leung & Williams, 2011) and L2 word order (e.g., Rebuschat & Williams, 2012), very little attention has been paid to morphological development, and even less research has examined the relative difficulty of learning individual case-markings. This talk reports on a series of experiments (Rogers, Rebuschat, & Revesz, in prep) that set out to address this gap. These experiments investigated the incidental learning of an artificial morphological system, based on Czech case-markings, by means of an artificial language paradigm.

All three experiments in this study followed the same basic experimental design, in which participants were exposed to an artificial morphological system under incidental learning conditions. First, participants listened to a number of sentences, each of which consisted of English phrases and a Czech inflected noun, e.g., Last summer the cat chased the myšku in the house. In each of these sentences, the Czech noun was inflected according to one of three cases (nominative -a, accusative -u, instrumental -ou), depending on its function in the sentence (subject, object, instrumental). The exposure task required participants to listen to the sentence, then match the meaning of the novel word (e.g., myšku) to one of two pictures displayed on the monitor (here, a mouse or a broom). Participants were neither informed that the Czech nouns were inflected for grammar nor that a test would follow. After the exposure phase, participants completed a grammaticality judgment test and subjective measures of awareness (see Rebuschat, 2013, for a review). Finally, participants were prompted to describe any morphological rules or patterns they might have noticed.

The results of experiment 3 showed a significant learning effect for the experimental group, confirming that adult learners are able to acquire a novel morphological system under incidental learning conditions. In addition, the analysis of the subjective measures of awareness and of the retrospective verbal reports further showed that the acquired knowledge was, at least partially, implicit in nature. I conclude this talk with a discussion of the implications of these findings for SLA theory and future research.

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Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language



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