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SLLAT/CLRG Seminar: Dr. John Williams (Cambridge)

Date: 15 May 2014 Time: 15:30-17:00

Venue: Cavendish Lecture Theatre

Language learning without awareness: The case of semantic implicit learning

Within both cognitive psychology and second languageacquisition there is controversy regarding the possibility of learning withoutawareness - that is, learning regularities without intention and without beingaware of what they are.This issue not only has implications for how weconceive the role of explicit instruction in adult SLA, but also for how weconceive the potential for implicit learning mechanisms to deliver the kinds ofgeneralisations that underlienatural language. Research on form-level andsyntactic regularities provides evidence for implicit learning of chunks orabstract patterns, but not generalizable rules. In contrast, research onimplicit learning of meaning-basedgeneralisations has yielded more positivefindings. Here I shall review evidence for such 'semantic implicit learning'effects in both non-linguistic and linguistic domains. Focusing on the latter,I will review research on learningsemantic generalisations in semi-artificiallanguage systems using data from well-formedness judgements, false memoryeffects, reaction times, and ERPs, and giving consideration to the assessmentof awareness in these differentparadigms. I will also provide evidence thatsemantic implicit learning is constrained - semantic generalisations differ intheir learnability. This raises the question of the role of the first language,general cognitive constraints, orUniversal Grammar, in the implicit learningprocess.

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Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Cognitive Linguistics, Linguistics and English Language, Second Language Learning and Teaching Research Group (SLLAT)


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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