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LINGUIST List 16.1481

Tue May 10 2005

Diss: Applied Ling: Winke: 'Individual Differences ...'

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        1.    Paula Winke, Individual Differences in Adult Chinese Second Language Acquisition: The relationships among aptitude, memory and strategies for learning


Message 1: Individual Differences in Adult Chinese Second Language Acquisition: The relationships among aptitude, memory and strategies for learning
Date: 09-May-2005
From: Paula Winke <pmw2georgetown.edu>
Subject: Individual Differences in Adult Chinese Second Language Acquisition: The relationships among aptitude, memory and strategies for learning


Institution: Georgetown University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Paula Marie Winke

Dissertation Title: Individual Differences in Adult Chinese Second Language Acquisition: The relationships among aptitude, memory and strategies for learning

Dissertation URL: http://epsilon3.georgetown.edu/~pmw2/doctoral/

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
                            Language Acquisition

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (CHN)

Dissertation Director:
Jeff Connor-Linton
Alison Mackey
Charles Stansfield

Dissertation Abstract:

Under the premise that learners' individual cognitive differences may
constrain their L2 learning and influence the strategies they use, the
present study investigated 133 native English speakers learning Chinese to
explore the possible links among learners' L2 aptitude, working memory, and
strategies for learning. In particular, the research addressed three
under-explored issues: (a) whether working memory plays a role in SLA; (b)
whether working memory is a part of L2 aptitude; and (c) whether L2
learning strategies help compensate for limitations in aptitude and/or
working memory.

The learners, who were at beginning (N=42) and advanced (N=91) levels of
Chinese, took the Modern Language Aptitude Test, two working memory tests
(phonological and visuo-spatial), the Strategy Inventory for Language
Learning, and tests that measured their Chinese learning. Results showed
the aptitude components of memory, grammatical sensitivity, and
phonological working memory were associated with learning at the beginning
level, while only phonological working memory was associated with learning
at the advanced level. Also, in both beginning and advanced groups, more
successful learners indicated that they used certain strategies less often
than their less successful counterparts. Finally, there was a relationship
between the aptitude component of memory and beginning and advanced
learners' reported use of strategies. Beginning learners with higher memory
capacity indicated that they used more strategies from metacognitive and
cognitive strategy groupings than beginning learners with lower memory
capacity. Advanced learners with higher memory capacity indicated that they
used fewer strategies from metacognitive and cognitive strategy groupings
than advanced learners with lower memory capacity.

Three conclusions can be drawn from these findings: (a) phonological
working memory may be considered as part of L2 aptitude; (b) contrary to
expectations, more successful learners indicated that they use some
strategies less than their less successful counterparts (perhaps because
learners with higher cognitive capacities can succeed without using those
strategies); and (c) the types of strategies that the learners reported
using are related to memory and proficiency. The pedagogy discussion
includes suggestions on what strategies should be taught in light of
individual differences in cognition and the level of instruction.





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