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Implicit and Explicit Language Learning

Conditions, Processes, and Knowledge in SLA and Bilingualism

Cristina Sanz and Ronald P. Leow, Editors

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: Georgetown University Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xii

The articles selected for Implicit and Explicit Language Learning: Conditions, Processes, and Knowledge in SLA and Bilingualism were first presented at the 2009 Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics on March 13-15, hosted by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Linguistics Department at Georgetown University. The present volume is the result of the...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-6

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.


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2. Stubborn Syntax: How It Resists Explicit Teaching and Learning

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pp. 9-21

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...

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3. An Epitaph for Grammar: An Abridged History

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pp. 23-34

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...

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4. Implicit and Explicit SLA and Their Interface

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pp. 35-47

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.

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5. How Analysis and Control Lead to Advantages and Disadvantages in Bilingual Processing

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pp. 49-58

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...


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6. Getting a Grip on the Slippery Construct of Awareness: Toward a Finer-Grained Methodological Perspective

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pp. 61-72

"CONSCIOUSNESS AS AN OBJECT of intellectual curiosity is the philosopher's joy and the scientists 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...

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7. Aging, Pedagogical Conditions, and Differential Success in SLA: An Empirical Study

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pp. 73-84

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...

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8. Effects of Feedback Timing in SLA: A Computer-Assisted Study on the Spanish Subjunctive

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pp. 85-99

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...

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9. Working Memory Predicts the Acquisition of Explicit L2 Knowledge

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pp. 101-113

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...

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10. The Effects of Formal Instruction and Study Abroad Contexts on Foreign Language Development: The SALA Project

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pp. 115-127

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...

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11. Input Processing Principles: A Contribution from First-Exposure Data

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pp. 129-141

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 re- ceive? 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...


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12. What Is Implicit and What Is Explicit in L2 Speech? Findings from an Oral Corpus

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pp. 145-157

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...

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13. Explicit Training and Implicit Learning of L2 Phonemic Contrasts

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pp. 159-174

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).


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14. English Speakers' Perception of Spanish Vowels: Evidence for Multiple-Category Assimilation

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pp. 177-193

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...

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15. Early Phonological Acquisition in a Set of English-Spanish Bilingual Twins

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pp. 195-205

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...

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16. Language Learning Strategies in Adult L3 Acquisition: Relationship between L3 Development, Strategy Use, L2 Levels, and Gender

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pp. 207-217

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...

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17. Effects of Bilingualism on Inhibitory Control in Elderly Brazilian Bilinguals

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pp. 219-

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...

E-ISBN-13: 9781589017535
E-ISBN-10: 1589017536
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589017290
Print-ISBN-10: 1589017293

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2011

Series Editor Byline: