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The role of aptitude during study abroad: now you see it, now you don’t

The role of aptitude during study abroad: now you see it, now you don’t

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The role of aptitude during study abroad: now you see it, now you don’t

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  1. The role of aptitude during study abroad: now you see it, now you don’t Robert DeKeyser University of Maryland, USA SAREP Palma de Mallorca January 25, 2018

  2. Outline Where we are coming from and where we may/should be going in aptitude research broadly Where we are with aptitude in study abroad – and where we may/should/could be going with that

  3. Definition ≠ only ‘foreign language learning aptitude’ ≠ everything learner brings to learning = in between: all cognitive aptitudes, including phonological working memory, inhibitory control, etc. (not affective or conative aptitudes)

  4. Brief history Decades of neglect because of - belief it is only relevant in the context of outdated teaching methodologies - belief in immutability of aptitude - if seen as a possible basis for adaptation, then - logistic difficulty of implementing ATI - fear of introducing a form of ‘apartheid’

  5. Brief history (2) Now: aptitude research is blossoming: • more theoretical motivation for aptitude tests • more specific tests (for pronunciation, for decl/proc) • more specific predictions (domain of language, stage of learning, learning from certain tasks) • aptitude-treatment interaction research • better (more reliable, more valid) and more varied outcome tests But we still have a long way to go…

  6. The independent variables: aptitudes We have gone - from ‘aptitude’ (e.g. MLAT) to ‘aptitudes’ - from ‘tests’ to ‘test batteries (e.g. Hi-LAB) But how many aptitudes are there – or how fine-grained should our tests be? Many studies show that different measures, even of a fairly narrow construct like complex WM - do not correlate well - do have different predictive value (even different scoring methods; Leeser & Sunderman, 2016) -- > need to use multiple measures of each construct for the time being

  7. Independent variables: aptitudes (2) We have learned about the concept of aptitude complexes (Snow, 1987; Robinson, 2005) BUT -- > endless combinations and interactions (Cronbach’s [1975] hall of mirrors -- > even harder to replicate and generalize -- > even harder to apply

  8. Independent variables: aptitudes (3) More promising may be: developing (a) good test(s) for implicit learning aptitude Interest in implicit learning has decades of history by now, but interest in aptitude for it is quite recent (e.g. Woltz, 2003; Kaufman et al., 2010; Misyak & Christensen, 2012) • SRT tests are non-verbal • even artificial grammar learning tests are not really verbal • LLAMA D may test implicit aptitude --- > concerted effort needed in this area

  9. The dependent variables:measuring learning outcomes Here too the more ‘implicit’ end of the spectrum has been vastly underrepresented Truly implicit?: word monitoring, self-paced reading, visual world paradigm

  10. The dependent variables:measuring learning outcomes (2) Meanwhile, more important from a practical point of view is testing something a little easier to measure: automatized (explicit) knowledge It is all that is needed by the end user: what matters is testing use that is both fluent and accurate at the same time This is high priority too: assessing how well aptitude tests predict real communication skills

  11. The dependent variables:measuring learning outcomes (3) From a more theoretical perspective: get serious about linking aptitudes to stages (Skehan1998, 2016) Done in a much broader sense by Serafini and Sanz (2016): diminishing role of WM with increasing proficiency (dep. var. = elicited imitation & untimed GJT)

  12. Designs to link independent and dependent variables Recent tendencies: - more micro research, e.g. role of aptitude in processing some type of feedback about some type of structure  helps us to take a process perspective - more ATI research  not only shows which combination of A and T is most helpful, but also suggest when/why an aptitude is helpful and when/why a treatment is helpful (DeKeyser 2012)  gets us even closer to process

  13. Designs to link independent and dependent variables (3) So far though, ATI has been a bit haphazard -narrowly focused and/or - poorly motivated - AND sorely lacking replication, esp. as results often appear contradictory e.g. • Li (2013) vs. Yilmaz (2013): analytic ability ~ implicit vs. explicit feedback • Goo (2012) vs. Goo (2016): “WM predictive for recasts, not metaling. CF” vs. “not predictive in either”

  14. Designs to link independent and dependent variables (4) replication is sorely needed in ATI research, even more than in other areas of SLA  cornucopia of topics for M.A. theses and qualifying papers -- encourage!

  15. Designs to link independent and dependent variables (5) Not only aptitude-treatment interactions; also aptitude x structure, e.g. - culture-fair IQ predicts learning gender of transparent nouns; reading span non-transparent (Kempe, Brooks, & Kharkurin, 2010) - procedural memory predicts learning of simple rules; declarative memory that of complex rules (Antoniou, Ettlinger, Wong, 2016) and aptitude x age (Abrahamsson & Hyltenstam, 2008; DeKeyser, 2000; DeKeyser, et al., 2010; Granena, 2013)): explicit learning more important with increasing age

  16. Designs to link independent and dependent variables (7) These aptitude x structure and aptitude x age interactions are equally theoretically interesting as aptitude x treatment interactions AND practically speaking: adaptation along these lines does not raise huge logistic and social issues  Once more, research on these three interactions is a priority, and replication should precede application

  17. The need for longitudinal perspectives • Language learning is a long-term and changing endeavor • Cf. Peter Skehan (1997, 2016…): aptitudes for different stages are likely to be different • Some evidence along these lines: • Morgan-Short et al. (2014): diminishing role of declarative memory; increasing for procedural • Serafini & Sanz (2016): diminishing role of WM/STM

  18. The need for theoretical integration Again: research on ATI, e.g., is not just on A and on T: the role of different aptitudes in different contexts, at different stages, at different ages, and for different structures provides a window into processes  theoretically interesting, e.g. - for understanding the critical period: Abrahamsson & Hyltenstam (2008), DeKeyser (2000), DeKeyser et al. (2010), Granena (2013a), Long and Granena (2013)… - for testing the interface hypothesis: Suzuki & DeKeyser (2017) explicit aptitude -- > explicit knowledge -- > automatized explicit knowledge -- > implicit knowledge - for understanding what goes on during study abroad

  19. Aptitude in Study Abroad Limited amount of literature Here too: definition ≠ only ‘foreign language learning aptitude’ ≠ everything learner brings to learning = in between: all cognitive aptitudes, including phonological working memory, inhibitory control, etc. (not affective or conative aptitudes) In the narrow sense: 4 studies In the wider sense another 7 studies

  20. Study abroad literature on aptitude in the narrow sense Anderson 2014 (dissertation) Serrano & Llanes 2015 Brecht, Davidson, & Ginsberg 1993 DeKeyser 2010 (DeKeyser 1991)

  21. Anderson (2014) Individual differences:- aptitude (MLAT) - working memory Outcome measures: - computerized OPI - fluency (words/minute) Findings: - MLAT is NEGATIVE predictor of COPI gains (probably because of higher initial scores) - WM did not predict

  22. Serrano and Llanes (2015) Individual differences: LLAMA B (vocab) Outcome measures: - grammaticality judgment test - formulaic sequences test (FST) Short-term SA (3 weeks, n=39; age 12-17) Findings: - higher-aptitude learners do better on FST - 15-17yo learners do better than 12-13yo - GAINS did NOT differ (-> not SA predictors!)

  23. Brecht, Davidson, and Ginsberg (1993) Individual differences: • MLAT 3,4,5 • other Slavic lgs. known • gender • age • preprogram reading and listening proficiency • ACTR qualifying exams (grammar, reading) Outcome measures: • oral proficiency interview • ETS exams (listening, reading)

  24. Brecht, Davidson, and Ginsberg (1993) Findings: • MLAT 3,4,5 do not predict OPI, but 3,4 do predict listening and reading • other Slavic lgs. known: + • gender: M+ • age: younger+ • preprogram reading proficiency: predicts OPI and listening • preprogram listening proficiency: not predict. • ACTR qualifying exams (grammar, reading): predict everything -- > MLAT and pre-program reading strongest

  25. DeKeyser (2010) Individual differences: - MLAT - pre-program MLA grammar/vocab tests Outcome measures: oral proficiency (rating of interview) Findings: - best predictors were pre-program interview (r=.84) and pre-program tests (r=.58) - MLAT was not a significant predictor (r=.23) (cf. DeKeyser 1991: same aptit.; very different behavior and outcomes)

  26. Conclusion about aptitude (in the narrow sense) in SA Very meager set of findings so far, and at least superficially contradictory at times It may very well be that (specific aspects of) aptitude only predict(s) specific formal aspects of proficiency, not overall oral proficiency Under some circumstances ‘aptitude’ may even correlate negatively with ‘proficiency’ Obviously a great need for replication

  27. Study abroad literature involvingother components of aptitude Faretta-Stutenberg & Morgan-Short 2017 Grey et al. 2015 Segalowitz & Freed 2004 O’Brien et al. 2007 Sunderman & Kroll 2009 Tokowicz et al. 2004 LaBrozzi 2012

  28. Faretta-Stutenberg & Morgan-Short (2017) Individual differences: - working memory - declarative memory - procedural memory Outcome measures: - performance on GJT - processing (ERP) In two contexts: at-home (n=17) and study-abroad (13)

  29. Faretta-Stutenberg & Morgan-Short (2017) Findings: Declarative memory: does not predict any change during the semester (only initial performance and processing) Procedural memory: predicts change in GJT score during SA, and in processing in both contexts Working memory: predicts only processing, only in study-abroad context Interpretation: Shift from declarative to procedural over time (cf. DeKeyser, Ullman); this happens more in SA context

  30. Segalowitz and Freed (2004) • Individual differences: • speed and efficiency of lexical access • speed and efficiency of attention control • Predicting: • oral fluency (temporal phenomena) • oral proficiency (OPI) • Here too: at home and study abroad • Findings: • Overall more gain in SA than AH, but • speed and efficiency of cognitive processes modulate that: SLOWER if HIGH CONTROL (SA) • initial oral profic. predicts participation/outcome • (amount of exposure was not a significant predictor!)

  31. O’Brien et al. (2007) Individual differences: phonological working memory (measured by serial nonword recognition) Predicting: Oral fluency (various measures from OPI recordings) At home (n=18) and study abroad (n=25) Findings: PWM is an important predictor in both contexts

  32. Sunderman and Kroll (2009) Individual differences: - working memory (reading span task) - +/- study abroad (n=14/34) Outcome measures: - translation recognition task (L1 X = L2 Y?) - picture-naming task Findings: - both accuracy and speed, both in production and comprehension, are better for +SA group, BUT… - below a certain WM threshold, no benefit from SA

  33. Tokowicz et al. (2004) Individual differences: working memory study abroad experience Predicting: single-word translation (L1 to L2) Findings: - for high working memory AND more study abroad: same number of meaning as non-response errors - for all other combinations: more non-response errors Interpretation: SA -> approx. transl. -> more words to hold in working memory -> WM more important

  34. Labrozzi (2012) Individual differences: - inhibitory control (Simon task) - study abroad (+/-) (n= 34/16) Outcome measures: ability to deal with incongruent cues (adverb and verb tense) Findings: - more reliance on lexical cue for both groups - +SA group does this less than –SA group - inhibitory control is not a predictor

  35. Grey et al. (2015) Individual differences: - phonological working memory - sentence span Outcome measures: accuracy and speed, on grammaticality judgment and lexical decision Findings: - change in accuracy and speed for both GJT and LDT - only significant ID: PWM for speed for GJT (* short but intensive program with pledge; n=26)

  36. Conclusion about aptitude (in the wider sense)in SA Much richer set of findings, but shots in the dark (no two studies ask the same question) More promising, but even greater need for replication then for aptitude in the narrow sense As was the case for aptitude in the narrow sense, it seems that specific aspects of aptitude predict specific aspects of performance under specific conditions.

  37. Overall conclusion THEREFORE, it is premature to draw strong conclusions, but also to conduct meta-analyses (cf. Yang 2015) • Not enough studies ask the same question • Average effect sizes completely mask all interaction and and therefore meaningless e.g. “shorter stays are more effective” ?!?!? - what is short? - what are the characteristics of people in these two types of programs?!

  38. Overall Conclusion We need to find out • what aptitudes play a role, depending on how study abroad is implemented (including preparation) • applied perspective: how does taking that into account allow for adaptation to individuals/groups? • theoretical perspective: what do interactions between aptitudes and SA implementations tell us about the learning process as a constantly evolving interplay between learner and input/environment?

  39. Questions??? E-mail: RDK@umd.edu