Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The role of learner and input variables in learning inflectional morphology

  • PATRICIA J. BROOKS (a1), VERA KEMPE (a2) and ARIEL SIONOV (a3)

Abstract

To examine effects of input and learner characteristics on morphology acquisition, 60 adult English speakers learned to inflect masculine and feminine Russian nouns in nominative, dative, and genitive cases. By varying training vocabulary size (i.e., type variability), holding constant the number of learning trials, we tested whether learners required a “critical mass” of vocabulary to generalize case marking patterns to new nouns. Cattell's Culture-Fair IQ Test mediated the effect of type variability on success in generalizing case marking to new vocabulary: only participants with above-median Culture-Fair Test scores showed the predicted critical mass effect of better generalization with larger training vocabulary. These results demonstrate how individual differences in central executive functioning and attention allocation capacity can affect adult second language learning.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Patricia Brooks, Department of Psychology, 4S-108, College of Staten Island, City University of New York, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314. E-mail: pbrooks@mail.csi.cuny.edu

References

Hide All
Adams A.-M., & Gathercole S. E.2000. Limitations in working memory: Implications for language development. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 35, 95116.
Baddeley A., Gathercole S. E., & Papagno C.1998. The phonological loop as a language learning device. Psychological Review, 105, 158173.
Bates E., & Goodman J. C.1997. On the inseparability of grammar and the lexicon: Evidence from acquisition, aphasia, and real-time processing. Language and Cognitive Processes, 12, 507584.
Braine M. D. S.1987. What is learned in acquiring word classes—A step toward an acquisition theory. In B. MacWhinney (Ed.), Mechanisms of language acquisition (pp. 6587). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Braine M. D. S., Brody R. E., Brooks P. J., Sudhalter V., Ross J., Catalano L., et al. 1990. Exploring language acquisition in children through the use of a miniature artificial language: Effects of item and pattern frequency, arbitrary subclasses, and correction. Journal of Memory and Language, 29, 591610.
Brooks P. J., Braine M. D. S., Catalano L., Brody R. E., & Sudhalter V.1993. Acquisition of gender-like noun subclasses in an artificial language: The contribution of phonological markers to learning. Journal of Memory and Language, 32, 7695.
Bybee J.1995. Regular morphology and the lexicon. Language and Cognitive Processes, 10, 425255.
Bybee J., & Hopper P. (Eds.). 2001. Frequency and the emergence of linguistic structure. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Cattell R. B.1971. Abilities: Their structure, growth and action. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.
Cattell R. B., & Cattell H. E. P.1973. Measuring Intelligence with the Culture-Fair Tests. Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing.
Cohen J., MacWhinney B., Flatt M., & Provost J.1993. PsyScope: An interactive graphical system for designing and controlling experiments in the psychology laboratory using Macintosh computers. Behavioral Research Methods, Instrumentation, and Computation, 25, 257271.
Conway A. R. A., Cowan N., Bunting M. F., Therriault D. J., & Minkoff S. R. B.2002. A latent variable analysis of working memory capacity, short-term memory capacity, processing speed, and general fluid intelligence. Intelligence, 30, 163183.
Cowan N.2000. The magical number 4 in short-term memory: A reconsideration of mental storage capacity. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 87185.
Daneman M., & Carpenter P. A.1980. Individual differences in working memory and reading. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 19, 450466.
Dempster F. N.1992. The rise and fall of the inhibitory mechanism: Toward a unified theory of cognitive development and aging. Developmental Review, 12, 4575.
Dionne G., Dale P. S., Boivin M., & Plomin R.2003. Genetic evidence for bidirectional effects of early lexical and grammatical development. Child Development, 74, 394412.
Duncan J., Emslie H., Williams P., Johnson R., & Freer C.1996. Intelligence and the frontal lobe: The organization of goal-directed behavior. Cognitive Psychology, 30, 257303.
Ellis N. (Ed.). 1994. Implicit and explicit learning of languages. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Ellis N.2002. Frequency effects in language processing: A review with implications for theories of implicit and explicit language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 24, 143188.
Ellis N., & Schmidt R.1998. Morphology and longer distance dependencies: Laboratory research illuminating the A in SLA. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19, 145171.
Ellis R.1994. The study of second language acquisition. Oxford University Press.
Engle R. W., Tuholski S. W., Laughlin J. E., & Conway A. R. A.1999. Working memory, short-term memory, and general fluid intelligence: A latent-variable approach. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 128, 309331.
Frenck-Mestre C. A., Foucart A., & Caetano-Nunes E.2004. Accessing grammatical gender in a second language: Native language influences. Abstracts of the Psychonomic Society, 45th Annual Meeting, 9, 47.
Fry A. F., & Hale S.1996. Processing speed, working memory, and fluid intelligence: Evidence for a developmental cascade. Psychological Science, 7, 237241.
Fry A. F., & Hale S.2000. Relationships among processing speed, working memory, and fluid intelligence in children. Biological Psychology, 54, 134.
Gathercole S. E., Hitch G. J., Service E., & Martin A. J.1997. Phonological short-term memory and new word learning in children. Developmental Psychology, 33, 966979.
Gesi Blanchard A. T.1998. Transfer effects of first language proficiency on second language reading. In A. F. Healy & L. E. Bourne Jr., (Eds.), Foreign language learning: Psycholinguistic studies on training and retention (pp. 291314). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Gomez R. L.2002. Variability and detection of invariant structure. Psychological Science, 13, 431436.
Gomez R. L., & Gerkin L. A.2000. Infant artificial language learning and language acquisition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 178186.
Grigorenko E. L., Sternberg R. J., & Ehrman M. E.2000. A theory-based approach to the measurement of foreign language learning ability: The Canal-F theory and test. The Modern Language Journal, 84, 390405.
Hernandez A., Li P., & MacWhinney B.2005. The emergence of competing modules in bilingualism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 220225.
Hupet M., Desmette D., & Schelstraete M.-A.1997. What does Daneman and Carpenter's Reading Span really measure? Perceptual and Motor Skills, 84, 603608.
Just M. A., & Carpenter P. A.1992. A capacity theory of comprehension: Individual differences in working memory. Psychological Review, 99, 122149.
Kane M. J., & Engle R. A.2002. The role of prefrontal cortex in working-memory capacity, executive attention, and general fluid intelligence: An individual-differences perspective. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 9, 637671.
Kempe V., & Brooks P. J.2001. The role of diminutives in the acquisition of Russian gender: Can elements of child-directed speech aid in learning morphology? Language Learning, 51, 221256.
Lakoff G.1987. Women, fire, and dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
MacWhinney B.1992. Transfer and competition in second language learning. In: Harris R. J. (Ed.), Cognitive processing in bilinguals (pp. 371390). Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Marchman V. A., & Bates E.1994. Continuity in lexical and morphological development: A test of the critical mass hypothesis. Journal of Child Language, 21, 339366.
Miyake A.2001. Individual differences in working memory: Introduction to special section. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 130, 163168.
Miyake A., & Friedman N. P.1998. Individual differences in second language proficiency: Working memory as language aptitude. In Healy A. F., Bourne L. E. Jr., (Eds.), Foreign language learning: Psycholinguistic studies on training and retention (pp. 339364). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Miyake A., Friedman N. P., & Emerson M. J.2000. The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex “frontal lobe” tasks: A latent variable analysis. Cogntive Psychology, 41, 49100.
Newport E. L., & Aslin R. N.2004. Learning at a distance I: Statistical learning of non-adjacent dependencies. Cognitive Psychology, 48, 127162.
Norris J., & Ortega L.2000. Effectiveness of L2 instruction: A research synthesis and quantitative meta-analysis. Language Learning, 50, 417528.
Plunkett K., & Juola P.1999. A connectionist model of English past tense and plural morphology. Cognitive Science, 23, 463490.
Price L.2004. Individual differences in learning: Cognitive control, cognitive style, and learning style. Journal of Educational Psychology, 24, 681698.
Robinson P.1995. Attention, memory, and the “noticing” hypothesis. Language Learning, 45, 283331.
Sasaki M.1996. Second language proficiency, foreign language aptitude, and intelligence. Baltimore, MD: Peter Lang.
Schmidt R.1990. The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied Psycholinguistics, 11, 129158.
Shah P., & Miyake A.1996. The separability of working memory resources for spatial thinking and language processing: An individual differences approach. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 125, 427.
Skehan P.1989. Individual differences in second-language learning. London: Edward Arnold.
Snodgrass J. G., & Vanderwart M.1980. A standardized set of 260 pictures: Norms for name agreement, image agreement, and visual complexity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 6, 174215.
Taraban R.2004. Drawing learners' attention to syntactic context aids gender-like category induction. Journal of Memory and Language, 51, 202216.
Tomasello M.2003. Constructing a language: A usage-based theory of language acquisition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Winke P. M.2005. Individual differences in adult Chinese second language acquisition: The relationship among aptitude, memory and strategies for learning. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Georgetown University.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed