Awareness and learning under incidental learning conditions
Recent years have witnessed a strong and increasing interest in the incidental learning of second language grammar. While much of this research has focused on the acquisition of second language word order or noun-determiner systems, relatively fewer studies have examined the learning of second language morphology. Results of studies that have examined the incidental learning of case-marking systems in particular have indicated that participants developed some, but not very much, knowledge of the target case-markers and, further, that the resulting knowledge from this exposure was partly implicit and partly explicit in nature. The present experiment set out to build upon the previous research in this area with the aim of taking a finer-grained look at the subjective measures used to assess implicit and explicit knowledge. In the present experiment, participants were trained on a semi-artificial language system under incidental learning conditions. Learning was measured via a grammaticality judgement test and awareness was assessed via subjective measures of awareness and retrospective verbal reports. The results corroborated the finding of low levels of learning reported in previous research. However, in contrast to the previous findings, the finer-grained analyses of subjective measures of awareness indicated that this knowledge was fully explicit in nature. These results point towards limitations of criteria for identifying implicit knowledge as part of subjective measures of awareness.
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