Incidental learning of morphosyntax in a second language during conversation: The acquisition of stem allomorphy in German strong verbs by native speakers of Dutch (Poster presentation)

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While SLA through immersion is very common, our knowledge about the underlying mechanisms of uninstructed SLA is restricted. Although there has been a growing body of psycholinguistic research investigating explicit and implicit L2 knowledge, learning and training (DeKeyser, 2003), comparative studies have often been biased toward advantages for explicit instruction and learning (Morgan-Short et al., 2012), and many studies tend to use a (semi-)artificial language paradigm (Rebuschat & Williams, 2012), limiting the generalizability of findings to SLA in natural contexts.Our study investigates the acquisition of a morphosyntactic aspect in a natural language (stem-vowel change in German strong verbs) in a communicative, yet experimentally controlled context (De Vos et al., in prep.). We used a meaning-based conversational task to measure learning from native-speaker input and compared learning outcomes of advanced L2 German learners (L1 Dutch) in an implicit (n=10; a cover story concealed the study’s intentions) and explicit (n=10; learners were instructed to focus on strong-verb inflection) instruction condition.In both conditions, the participant and the experimenter (L1 German) engaged in a scripted dialogue and produced, in turn, picture-based sentences containing either a stemvowel-changing or non-stemvowel-changing verb. Learning was measured in terms of participants’ improvement in accuracy after exposure, as compared to accuracy on no-input. Comparable amounts of learning were found for both groups; explicit instruction did not have an apparent added value. A retrospective interview revealed that participants in the implicit group had noticed the strong verbs but were unaware of the study’s learning purpose, suggesting that learning was incidental. Our findings illustrate that the principles of morphosyntactic learning can occur during conversation.ReferencesDe Vos, J., Schriefers, H., & Lemhöfer, K. (in preparation). Naturalistic incidental spoken L2 word learning and retention: An experimental study.DeKeyser, R. M. (2003). Implicit and explicit learning. In C. J. Doughty & M. H. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 313–348). Oxford: Blackwell.Morgan-Short, K., Steinhauer, K., Sanz, C., & Ullman, M. T. (2012). Explicit and implicit second language training differentially affect the achievement of native-like brain activation patterns. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24(4), 933–947.Rebuschat, P., & Williams, J. N. (2012). Implicit and explicit knowledge in second language acquisition. Applied Psycholinguistics, 33(4), 829–856.
Period29 May 201730 May 2017
Event titlePsycholinguistics in Flanders
Event typeConference
Conference number16
LocationLeuven, Belgium