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Learner Differences in Metalinguistic Awareness: Exploring the Influence of Cognitive Abilities and Language Experience
Daniel O. Jackson
211-226 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Based on recent theoretical perspectives concerning the role of individual differences in adult second language learning, this paper explores cognitive and experiential factors in learner-generated metalinguistic awareness of an artificial language. Participants were English-dominant university students who had previous exposure to a range of other languages. The study employed an observational design. In a laboratory setting, participants performed the following tasks: (a) a grammatical inferencing task employing an artificial language, (b) a reading span task, and (c) a dual 3-back task. They provided information about their language background and experience via a written questionnaire. They were also asked to report on their metalinguistic awareness of the artificial language input. The results of this investigation revealed that scores on the dual 3-back task and the awareness measure were significantly correlated, there were qualitative differences in awareness for high versus low dual 3-back scorers, and performance on the dual 3-back task, along with language experience, predicted the degree of metalinguistic awareness. Future directions for research on the role of individual differences in metalinguistic awareness are discussed.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 2012 Second Language Research Forum: Building Bridges between Disciplines
edited by Ryan T. Miller, Katherine I. Martin, Chelsea M. Eddington, Ashlie Henery, Nausica Marcos Miguel, Alison M. Tseng, Alba Tuninetti, and Daniel Walter
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Printed edition: $290.00