Implicit and Explicit Language Learning

Implicit and Explicit Language Learning: Conditions, Processes, and Knowledge in SLA and Bilingualism

Cristina Sanz
Ronald P. Leow
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 242
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2tt7k0
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  • Book Info
    Implicit and Explicit Language Learning
    Book Description:

    Over the last several decades, neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, and psycholinguists have investigated the implicit and explicit continuum in language development and use from theoretical, empirical, and methodological perspectives. This book addresses these perspectives in an effort to build connections among them and to draw pedagogical implications when possible. The volume includes an examination of the psychological and neurological processes of implicit and explicit learning, what aspects of language learning can be affected by explicit learning, and the effects of bilingualism on the mental processing of language. Rigorous empirical research investigations probe specific aspects of acquiring morphosyntax and phonology, including early input, production, feedback, age, and study abroad. A final section explores the rich insights provided into language processing by bilingualism, including such major areas as aging, third language acquisition, and language separation.

    eISBN: 978-1-58901-753-5
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    CRISTINA SANZ and RONALD P. LEOW

    THE GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY Round Table on Languages and Linguistics (GURT) is an annual conference with a longstanding tradition. Indeed, GURT 2009 was a special year given that this conference celebrated GURT’s fiftieth anniversary. GURT 2009 was cohosted by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Department of Linguistics and was held from March 13 to March 15.

    Over the last several decades, neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, and psycholinguists have investigated the implicit/explicit dichotomy in language development and use from theoretical, empirical as well as methodological perspectives. GURT 2009 provided a forum to address these perspectives in an effort to build...

  6. PART I: THEORY
    • 2 Stubborn Syntax: How It Resists Explicit Teaching and Learning
      (pp. 9-22)
      BILL VANPATTEN

      THE PURPOSE of the present chapter is to remind the reader of a significant fact regarding syntax in adult SLA. Unlike lexical form and meaning, as well as surface elements of morphology such as verbal and nominal inflections, syntax resists explicit efforts at inducing its acquisition. In short, syntax is stubborn. What is more, the claim here is that syntax is not even learned in the traditional sense; instead, it is derived from the interaction of processed input data with certain language-specific internal mechanisms: namely Universal Grammar. This idea is not new (see, for example, Schwartz 1993), but it is...

    • 3 An Epitaph for Grammar: An Abridged History
      (pp. 23-34)
      ARTHUR S. REBER

      THE PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY of language has deep roots, traceable to early speculations about the origins of speech, the “ur” or proto-language, which were later joined by medieval musings about the possibility of linguistic universals and discussed with some sophistication by pioneers like Wilhelm Wundt (1904).

      During the early decades of the twentieth century the topic was dominated by descriptivists and behaviorists, and neither group was particularly taken by language’s special place in the panoply of things that people do. Descriptivists focused on cataloging things said and written—honest if uninspiring work. Behaviorists approached language as behavior—acknowledging that it was...

    • 4 Implicit and Explicit SLA and Their Interface
      (pp. 35-48)
      NICK C. ELLIS

      THIS CHAPTER PROVIDES a historical and cross-disciplinary review of the Interface Question in SLA concerning the differences between implicit and explicit language knowledge and the ways in which they interact. The answer to this question is fundamental in that it determines how one believes second languages are learned and whether there is any role for instruction.

      Children acquire their first language (L1) by engaging with their caretakers in natural meaningful communication. From this “evidence” they automatically acquire complex knowledge of the structure of their language. Yet paradoxically they cannot describe this knowledge, the discovery of which forms the object of...

    • 5 How Analysis and Control Lead to Advantages and Disadvantages in Bilingual Processing
      (pp. 49-58)
      ELLEN BIALYSTOK

      OVER THIRTY YEARS AGO, I was working on trying to understand the cognitive processes involved in adult second language learning. The problem was surprisingly intractable: the evidence showed slow uneven progress, usually without ever fully mastering the language, and enormous variation between individuals. This language learning task seemed to have no relation to the one we all master effortlessly in our first few years of life. But why should that be? Have our brains changed so much? Is a second language so much more difficult than a first? Are there really dedicated processes for language learning that are available to...

  7. PART II: METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES AND EMPIRICAL RESEARCH ON AWARENESS, PEDAGOGICAL CONTEXTS, AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN SLA
    • 6 Getting a Grip on the Slippery Construct of Awareness: Toward a Finer-Grained Methodological Perspective
      (pp. 61-72)
      RONALD P. LEOW, ELLEN JOHNSON and GERMÁN ZÁRATE-SÁNDEZ

      “CONSCIOUSNESS AS AN OBJECT of intellectual curiosity is the philosopher’s joy and the scientist’s nightmare” (Tulving 1993, 283). No one will disagree with this statement given that the multifaceted nature of the construct “awareness” makes it undoubtedly one of the slipperiest to operationalize and measure in both second language acquisition (SLA) and non-SLA fields such as cognitive psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience. Indeed, the role of awareness, or lack thereof, in learning is explicitly or implicitly subsumed in a remarkable number of variables in these fields, including type of learning (e.g., subliminal, incidental, implicit, explicit), type of learning condition (e.g.,...

    • 7 Aging, Pedagogical Conditions, and Differential Success in SLA: An Empirical Study
      (pp. 73-84)
      ALISON E. LENET, CRISTINA SANZ, BEATRIZ LADO, JAMES H. HOWARD JR. and DARLENE V. HOWARD

      LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE is difficult but not impossible for older adults. There is evidence that intentional instructions to learn material such as word pairs or paragraphs often result in larger age-related memory deficits than do more incidental instructions, in part because the strategies that older adults adopt for memorizing are less effective than those adopted by younger adults. This suggests that older adults might benefit from language instruction that encourages more incidental, implicit learning. In our study twenty adults aged sixty-six through eighty-one and twenty college-aged participants were exposed to a lesson on semantic function assignment in Latin under...

    • 8 Effects of Feedback Timing in SLA: A Computer-Assisted Study on the Spanish Subjunctive
      (pp. 85-100)
      FLORENCIA HENSHAW

      AMONG SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION RESEARCHERS, there is consensus that feedback can play an important role in helping second language learners “to confirm, disconfirm, and possibly modify the hypothetical, transitional rules of their developing grammars” (Chaudron 1988, 134). More specifically, feedback that is immediate may be best for learners to confirm or refute interlanguage hypotheses, which is key for learning to take place (Loschky and Bley-Vroman 1993; Tomasello and Herron 1989). However, no studies in the field of SLA have offered empirical confirmation to the assumption that immediate feedback is indeed more beneficial to learners than delayed feedback. Furthermore, the many...

    • 9 Working Memory Predicts the Acquisition of Explicit L2 Knowledge
      (pp. 101-114)
      JARED A. LINCK and DANIEL J. WEISS

      THE ROLE OF EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING in second language (L2) aptitude remains unclear. While some studies report a relationship between working memory (WM) and L2 learning (e.g., Mackey et al. 2002), others have argued against this association (e.g., Juffs 2004). There is also evidence that being bilingual incurs benefits to inhibitory control (e.g., Bialystok et al. 2004), and recent studies have reported that individual differences in inhibitory control are related to online L2 processing (e.g., Linck, Hoshirno, and Kroll 2008). However, few studies have adopted a longitudinal approach to assessing the predictive validity of these executive functions. The current study aimed...

    • 10 The Effects of Formal Instruction and Study Abroad Contexts on Foreign Language Development: The SALA Project
      (pp. 115-128)
      CARMEN PÉREZ-VIDAL, MARIA JUAN-GARAU and JOAN C. MORA

      THE INTEREST IN INVESTIGATING the effects of Study Abroad (SA) on linguistic outcomes and processes seems undiminishing. Whereas the main body of research to date focuses on the effect of the SA period per se, the aim of the present study is to uncover the effects of an SA period, following a formal instruction period, on the linguistic development of advanced level English major undergraduates studying for a degree in translation. The degree includes eighty hours of English tuition in the first year, prior to a three-month SA period spent in an English-speaking country (mostly in the UK and Ireland,...

    • 11 Input Processing Principles: A Contribution from First-Exposure Data
      (pp. 129-142)
      REBEKAH RAST

      THIS CHAPTER ADDRESSES learners’ processing of linguistic input at the absolute beginning of the second language acquisition experience.¹ Its content emerges from the question: What do adult language learners do with the target language (TL) input they receive? In VanPatten’s (2002) response to DeKeyser et al. (2002), he writes, “I would like to end where we all seem to converge: Namely, if we all agree about the fundamental role of input in acquisition, then we need to look at what learners do to input, why they do it, and what insights this may provide for instruction if any” (828). The...

  8. PART III: EMPIRICAL RESEARCH ON L2 PHONOLOGY
    • 12 What Is Implicit and What Is Explicit in L2 Speech? Findings from an Oral Corpus
      (pp. 145-158)
      HEATHER E. HILTON

      AFTER A BRIEF INTRODUCTION clarifying the terms “implicit” and “explicit” as they apply to learning and language processing, this article investigates implicit and explicit processes in L2 speech, using different types of disfluency in an oral corpus as indicators of explicit processes at work: silent and filled pauses, retracing, word fragments, and drawled or lengthened syllables. A corpus of oral productions by native speakers and L2 learners of English and French at different proficiency levels reveals basic differences in the distribution of hesitation structures: more clause-internal hesitations and a higher rate of retracing illustrate the difficulty disfluent learners have accessing...

    • 13 Explicit Training and Implicit Learning of L2 Phonemic Contrasts
      (pp. 159-174)
      FRED R. ECKMAN, GREGORY K. IVERSON, ROBERT ALLEN FOX, EWA JACEWICZ and SUE ANN LEE

      THE PURPOSE OF THIS CHAPTER is to report preliminary findings of an ongoing investigation into constraints on the acquisition of L2 phonemic contrasts. We elicited production and perception data in two of the three logically possible ways in which a NL and a TL can differ with respect to a two-way phonemic contrast, as listed in (1).

      (1) NL–TL Differences in a Two-Way Phonemic Contrast

      (a) The NL lacks sounds corresponding to either of the two TL phonemes.

      (b) The NL has sounds corresponding to one, but not both, of the two TL phonemes.

      (c) The NL has sounds...

  9. PART IV: EMPIRICAL STUDIES ON KEY ISSUES IN BILINGUALISM:: AGING, THIRD LANGUAGE ACQUISITION, AND LANGUAGE SEPARATION
    • 14 English Speakers’ Perception of Spanish Vowels: Evidence for Multiple-Category Assimilation
      (pp. 177-194)
      LESLIE S. GORDON

      RESEARCH IN SECOND LANGUAGE PHONOLOGY in general and L2 perception in particular has historically lagged behind research in other areas of L2 acquisition. However, the last two decades of the twentieth century saw an increased amount of research in L2 perception, work that culminated in some new and influential models. While work in L2 perception during this period was both theoretical and empirical, collectively addressing multiple variables, one constant underlies the vast majority of the work: the influence of the first language (L1) phonology upon L2 phonology. Since even the earliest days of second language acquisition (SLA) research, the influence...

    • 15 Early Phonological Acquisition in a Set of English–Spanish Bilingual Twins
      (pp. 195-206)
      DAVID INGRAM, VIRGINIA DUBASIK, JUANA LICERAS and RAQUEL FERNÁNDEZ FUERTES

      THIS IS THE FIRST ATTEMPT to examine the early phonological development of bilingual twins. It sought to determine the extent to which the phonological acquisition of twins was similar, and the extent to which the phonological acquisition of the two languages was similar. Language samples from twin boys acquiring English and Spanish simultaneously were taken at eighteen, nineteen, and twenty months of age, in English and Spanish. The samples were analyzed using nine measures of phonological acquisition. A scale of phonological similarity was developed to quantify comparisons between the languages and between the children. The results indicated that the phonologies...

    • 16 Language Learning Strategies in Adult L3 Acquisition: Relationship between L3 Development, Strategy Use, L2 Levels, and Gender
      (pp. 207-218)
      HUI-JU LIN

      PART OF THE LATIN PROJECT,¹ the current study investigated the relationship between strategies reported by ninety L1 Mandarin speakers of three different L2 English levels (low, mid, and high) and of both sexes and L3 development when learning to assign semantic functions to noun phrases at the sentence level. One-way ANOVA analyses showed that female participants and higher L2 participants used strategies more frequently than their counterparts. Correlation analyses revealed positive relationships between compensation strategies reported by all the L2 learners and the grammaticality judgment pretest as well as the sentence written production pretest. Positive correlations were identified between the...

    • 17 Effects of Bilingualism on Inhibitory Control in Elderly Brazilian Bilinguals
      (pp. 219-229)
      INGRID FINGER, JOHANNA DAGORT BILLIG and ANA PAULA SCHOLL

      BILINGUALISM HAS ALWAYS BEEN a matter of interest and great polemic, and in the past two decades, there has been an important advance in the investigation of the effects of a bilingual experience throughout lifespan. Psycholinguists and cognitive science researchers, in particular, have focused on the relationship between bilingualism and the development of executive functions in children as well as the effects of a bilingual experience as a protective factor against cognitive decline in older adults.

      In comparison to monolingual children, bilingual children have performed better in various nonverbal tasks demanding high levels of control, such as ignoring misleading features...