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Are individual differences in cognitive abilities and stylistic preferences related to multilingual adults’ performance in explicit learning conditions?

Roehr-Brackin, Karen and Ganem Gutierrez, Gabriela Adela and Olivera-Smith, Lexa and Torres Marin, Maria Teresa (2021) 'Are individual differences in cognitive abilities and stylistic preferences related to multilingual adults’ performance in explicit learning conditions?' Language Awareness, 30 (4). pp. 391-412. ISSN 0965-8416

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Abstract

Research suggests that individual differences in additional language learning may play a more important role in taxing situations when learners are confronted with unfamiliar or difficult tasks. However, studies to date have mostly focused on second language (L2) learners/bilinguals, while individual differences within multilingual populations remain under-researched. Working with university-level multilingual adults, we compared the effectiveness of traditional instruction (familiar) and concept-based instruction (unfamiliar) to teach the past tense/aspect distinction in Spanish. Learners were pre- and post-tested on their knowledge of the target structure and assessed on language learning aptitude, working memory capacity, verbal-imagery cognitive style and attitudes. While both treatment groups demonstrated significantly improved metalinguistic knowledge, we found no statistical differences between the two groups in terms of knowledge gained or attitudes, and individual differences in cognitive ability were not associated with observed gains. This set of results indicates that the cognitive individual differences measured seemingly no longer played a significant role in these multilinguals’ performance in the instructional conditions examined. In addition, neither language learning experience nor typological closeness between known languages had any significant impact. We propose that extensive experience with explicit language instruction may have led to a levelling effect, as previously observed in L2 learners.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Multilingualism; second language (L2) learning; explicit instruction; concept-based instruction; Spanish past tense/aspect; individual learner differences
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2021 12:03
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:26
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/30884

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