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Poster A153

Harnessing Implicit Learning to Support the Discovery of Second Language Phoneme Patterns in Adult Learners

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Emilie Rae Hoeppner1 (, Amiya S. Aggarwal1, Laura J. Batterink1; 1The University of Western Ontario

Research in adult second language (L2) learning has predominantly concentrated on explicit, or effortful, learning, where learners dedicate time to focused study. However, laboratory studies support the idea that passive exposure may be sufficient to acquire certain aspects of language. In these studies, learners presented with a continuous speech stream featuring repetitive words gradually develop sensitivity to the patterns of syllable co-occurrence within the stream, using this information to discover word boundaries. This process is known as statistical learning and provides a mechanism by which patterns in the environment can be learned without the need for conscious effort. The current project investigates the role of statistical learning mechanisms in acquiring phonemic patterns within a natural L2 context. For 21 days, adult English speakers listened to either Italian podcasts (L2 exposure group) or English podcasts (control group) for one hour daily while going about everyday activities. EEG responses to naturalistic Italian speech were recorded before and after this period of passive exposure. Employing the multivariate Temporal Response Function, a mathematical model aligning predetermined, time-locked markers for linguistic measures with the continuous EEG signal, we plan to examine neural responses to phonemic co-occurrence patterns in the continuous speech stream. We hypothesize that participants in the L2 exposure group will develop sensitivity to L2 phonemic patterns, as evidenced by an increased neural response to less expected (more surprising) phonemes in Italian speech at post-test. Such results would provide compelling evidence that passive exposure to spoken second languages can foster sound pattern acquisition.

Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Other


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April 13–16  |  2024