Nadiia Denhovska at Langwidge Sandwidge

Posted on October 24, 2014 by

In the first Sandwidge talk after Reading Week, LEL/Psychology PhD student Nadiia Denhovska will be speaking on Frequency and Animacy Effects in the Acquisition of a Noun-Adjective Agreement Rule in L2 under Incidental Learning Conditions. The talk will be in Samuel Alexander A214 on 4th Nov at 1pm. Here’s the abstract:

Previous research on implicit learning has focused mainly on receptive knowledge acquisition of a natural language already familiar to learners, and of artificial grammars. It has been demonstrated that some learning is possible in the incidental learning conditions (Lee, 2002; Leung & Williams, 2011a, 2011b; Rebuschat & Williams, 2011). However, it still remains unclear to what extent novice adult learners can acquire receptive and productive knowledge of grammar in such learning conditions and, if so, what factors contribute to successful L2 grammar acquisition.

We exposed 60 adult native English speakers with no previous knowledge of a Slavic language or advance knowledge of a language with grammatical gender to a noun-adjective agreement rule as a function of gender and case in Russian animate nouns (denoting animals-epicenes) and inanimate nouns (denoting objects) under explicit learning condition and two incidental learning conditions. We manipulated token frequency in the incidental learning conditions: participants were exposed to the stimuli under high type high token frequency condition and high type low token frequency conditions. We also measured participants’ working memory capacity using Operation and Reading Span tasks (Unsworth et al., 2005).

No significant difference in comprehension accuracy between the incidental learning conditions was found, however, in production participants in the high type high token frequency condition performed significantly better than in the high type low token frequency condition. Participants in this condition also relied significantly on WM in comprehension (r = .51, p = .02) and production (r = .47, p = .04). But there was no significant effect of animacy either in production or in comprehension. The results are discussed in the light of how frequency, working memory and animacy may impact the acquisition of receptive and productive knowledge of a grammar rule through incidental exposure, and how correlation with working memory may provide insight into the activation of either explicit or implicit knowledge when performing a task.