29 November 2023

Soutenance de thèse : Martha Black

Differentiated Performance in Native and Instructed Nonnative Spanish: The impact of task demands and individual differences during performance with grammatical gender

Soutenance de thèse de doctorat

Mercredi 29 novembre 2023

15h30 Salle de conférences B011, LPL, Aix-en-Provence & à distance via Zoom

Lien pour accéder en visio : https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/j/95992916577 Meeting ID: 959 9291 6577 Passcode: 129066

Martha Black

(LPL-AMU / Univ. of Western Ontario)

Differentiated Performance in Native and Instructed Nonnative Spanish: The impact of task demands and individual differences during performance with grammatical gender

Sous la direction de Joyce Bruhn de Garavito et Sophie Herment

Jury :
Supervisor: Bruhn de Garavito, Joyce, The University of Western Ontario
Co-Supervisor: Herment, Sophie, Aix Marseille Université

Thesis Examination Committee Members:
Dr. Ana García-Allén, Western University – Hispanic Studies
Dr. Jeff Tennant, Western University – French Studies
Dr. Frank Boers, Western University – School of Education
Dr. Stephane Pagés, Aix Marseille Université

Résumé :
Adult language learners demonstrate extensive variation and are believed to rely largely on explicit knowledge and declarative memory, directly impacting how target language input is processed, represented, and retrieved. The overarching aim of this thesis is to identify and better understand the factors that are most important for adult language acquisition by examining how linguistic features, task demands, and individual learner differences may impact performance with Spanish grammatical gender. We seek to draw principled conclusions about what knowledge types and memory systems language users exploit as proficiency develops. 115 language users of Spanish from diverse language backgrounds, including native speakers (n=25) and late/adult instructed Spanish learners (n=90), completed a language learner profile questionnaire, a Spanish proficiency test, four experimental tasks with strategically manipulated conditions, and a metalinguistic awareness exit survey. Findings indicate a late learner preference for frequent, grammatical, and masculine noun tokens and a slight native speaker preference for high-frequency tokens. Intermediate and beginner learner performance was found to be enhanced on self-paced and written tasks whereas advanced learners and native speakers performed better on speeded tasks and showed no stimuli modality effects. Spanish proficiency produced the most differentiating effect between late learners, followed by metalinguistic awareness and the Ideal L2 Self component of motivation. A slight typological multilingual learner advantage was found that produced the greatest learner advantage on tasks conditioning online language processing. This thesis contributes to the domain of adult language acquisition by providing evidence that as global proficiency in the target language develops, qualitative patterns of sensitivity to linguistic and task features become more native-like as do quantitative measures of performance. Findings suggest that at lower levels of proficiency, learners strategically exploit their explicit linguistic knowledge to compensate for deficits in their developing implicit linguistic system. This research further contributes to our understanding of the individual differences that impact performance and makes a novel contribution to the field of multilingualism by elucidating the nature of the multilingual advantage. Findings show that advanced proficiency late learners are able to mirror both quantitative and qualitative native speaker norms of performance. Pedagogical implications are also discussed.

29 November 2023, 15h3018h30
LPL, salle de conférences B011 & en visio

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