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Contributions of type of instruction, individual differences in cognitive ability and age to the development of explicit and implicit knowledge of L2 English articles: A study with Russian learners of English

Tomak, Irina (2019) Contributions of type of instruction, individual differences in cognitive ability and age to the development of explicit and implicit knowledge of L2 English articles: A study with Russian learners of English. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the role of type of instruction, individual differences in aptitude and working memory (WM), and age in the development of explicit and implicit knowledge of second language (L2) articles. One hundred and fifteen Russian learners were randomly assigned to one of three instructional conditions: a deductive and a guided inductive condition instantiated explicit, form-focused instruction, and an incidental condition instantiated implicit, meaning-focused instruction. Participants completed a specially designed suite of tests measuring their implicit and explicit knowledge as well as the LLAMA aptitude battery and a backward digit span test. With regard to the role of instruction, aptitude and WM, it was found that the two types of explicit instruction led to larger gains in explicit knowledge than implicit instruction. The guided inductive approach was the most effective for the development of implicit knowledge. Aptitude and WM were relevant for the acquisition of implicit knowledge in the deductive and incidental conditions, but not in the guided inductive condition. This indicates that either type of explicit instruction levels out individual differences in the development of explicit knowledge, whereas the finding that in the development of implicit knowledge only guided inductive instruction results in a levelling effect may suggest that its reflection of a developmental path from exemplar to schema is beneficial to all learners. In relation to explicit and implicit knowledge of individual article uses, the results show that the different uses varied in their explicit vs. implicit learning difficulty, with certain uses standing out as “hard” or “easy” in terms of the specific type of knowledge (explicit vs. implicit) involved. This suggests that different article uses behave like a range of L2 constructions, with some uses being less amenable to explicit instruction than others. Results pertaining to the contributions of age, type of instruction and individual differences indicate that the two types of explicit instruction were equally effective for the development of explicit and implicit knowledge for younger and older teenage learners. Aptitude marginally predicted gains in implicit knowledge in younger teenage learners only. Thus, explicit form-focused instruction seemingly trumped age effects and levelled out individual differences in the development of explicit knowledge.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Second language acquisition, explicit and implicit knowledge and learning, individual differences in cognitive ability
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Irina Tomak
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2019 14:02
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2019 14:02
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24198

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