Edited by Gisela Granena, Daniel O. Jackson and Yucel Yilmaz
[Bilingual Processing and Acquisition 3] 2016
► pp. 157–184
An empirical study of working memory, personality, and second language construction learning
The study presented in this chapter investigated the role of individual differences in construction learning under different conditions of partial repetition. Ninety participants were exposed to an artificial system of noun-suffix constructions under one of three incidental learning conditions, which either repeated nouns across consecutive trials, repeated suffixes across consecutive trials, or contained no repetition across consecutive trials. It was hypothesized that: (a) working memory (WM) and (b) openness would predict L2 construction learning, and that (c) the influence of WM would be stronger in the absence of repetition, while (d) intellect would be associated with attention to form. The results indicated that participants learned the artificial system, with no differences between conditions. Measures of WM and openness correlated positively and significantly with untrained (i.e. generalization) test scores. Mixed-effects binominal regression models revealed significant effects for WM, but showed no interactions between condition and WM. Intellect was significantly related to a measure of attention. In sum, this study provides additional evidence that WM fosters generalization and further suggests that the distinction between openness and intellect may be useful for understanding novel second language learning.
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