Memory-based aptitude for nativelike selection

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Native speaker competence includes not only grammatical knowledge but also knowledge of communal and conventional word combinations, or nativelike selections. Although all speakers are idiomatic in their L1, very few, even in immersion contexts, are as successful in their L2. This chapter presents the results of a study investigating the receptive nativelike selection ability of adult onset L2 users with long residence in the target language community, and investigates the influence of exposure, phonological short term memory (pSTM) and disposition towards interaction. We suggest that L2 users do accrue information about conventional word combinations through exposure, and that individual differences in pSTM limit both rate of learning and ultimate attainment. Crucially, these influences depend both on the context of learning and age of onset of the learner.


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