Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

Barbara Schulz

Abstract

Though aptitude has been an object of investigation since the middle of the last century, research into its importance in language acquisition was for many years neglected. One of the most important aspects of aptitude research involves an attempt to accurately ascertain its constituent parts and the respective roles they play in overall learner ability. The present study had two main objectives: first, to discover some of the relationships between the major aspects of learner aptitude, including associative memory, working memory capacity, analytic language processing and grammatical sensitivity, in order to shed light on the degree to which they constitute independent components of the aptitude domain. Second, this study attempts to evaluate if a learner's grammatical sensitivity is influenced by prior experiences in learning a second language, which would eliminate it as a 'rigid' component of aptitude. It is predicted that results will show a significant correlation between grammatical sensitivity and amount of L2 learning experience.

Based on previous testing models, an aptitude test was devised and used to assess 35 participants who possess different levels of L2 learning experience. To test whether grammatical sensitivity is influenced by prior language experience, and to better determine the nature of experience effects, this study tests for two independent variables, level of proficiency and explicit language learning experience. Subjects are divided according to both criteria.

Two one-way ANOVAs are used to analyze grammatical sensitivity for language experience effects, while other analyses, including a factor analysis of component data and a multivariate reduction analysis, are used to help define the relationships between different components. Results are used to draw conclusions about the nature of aptitude and to provide a theoretical basis for further research into the correlation between measured aptitude and L2 proficiency attainment in different pedagogical and learning contexts.

Share

COinS