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Title:The effects of age and memory on the ability to adjust to novel (artificial) dialect forms for L1 Spanish speakers
Author(s):Ross, Daniel
Subject(s):Language Acquisition
Abstract:There is general agreement in the Second Language Acquisition literature that there are age effects, and that children tend to outperform adults in ultimate attainment. Despite this, previous research has shown that adults tend to outperform children in short-term outcomes. To address the differences in those two findings, the study presented here was designed to show a young-age advantage, by measuring “flexibility,” which is to say their ability to adjust to novel forms present in the input of a novel (artificial) dialect. The results show that, although adults did well in all tasks, in some of the tasks young children also performed well: both extreme age groups outperformed the middle. This is interpreted in the Declarative/Procedural model (Ullman et al. 1997; Ullman 2012), which is based on the distinction of two memory systems: the procedural memory system, which explains the advantage in young children, and the declarative system, which explains the advantage in adults. Procedural memory is central in the processing of systematic grammar in language, while declarative memory is used for other tasks like remembering events and learning new vocabulary. This difference may help explain why children, are often found to learn languages better than adults. The paper concludes that age effects are at least partly explained by a gradual shift in memory systems, which correlates with age.
Issue Date:2013-01
Citation Info:Ross, Daniel (2013). The effects of age and memory on the ability to adjust to novel (artificial) dialect forms for L1 Spanish speakers. Unpublished Qualifying Exam paper, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Genre:Working / Discussion Paper
Publication Status:unpublished
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-03-01

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