Implicit learning of a L2 morphosyntactic rule, and its relevance for language teaching

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In a study of implicit learning of an artificial L2 morphosyntactic rule, 65 adult native speakers of English were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: incidental, intentional, or control. Participants in the experimental conditions were trained on sentences containing a determiner phrase, the word order in which varied if an adjective was present. On a GJT, both experimental groups performed above chance on the simplest rule of noun-determiner ordering; only the intentional group learned the more complex adjective-determiner-noun order. No participants learned a third, generalization structure not encountered in training. Given similar findings from other experiments, we suggest that implicit L2 learning by adults may be constrained, but has an important role in a cognitive-interactionist approach to language teaching.


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