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Learning grammatical gender: The use of rules by novice learners

  • NORA PRESSON (a1), BRIAN MacWHINNEY (a1) and NATASHA TOKOWICZ (a2)

Abstract

Two experiments successfully trained novices to categorize French nouns by grammatical gender, resulting in high levels of performance after delay. Training with a frequent exemplar and training with a more diverse exemplar set led to equivalent learning. However, providing explicit rules with correctness feedback led to better generalization and retention than did correctness feedback alone or feature focusing without explicit rule information. This suggests that, at least for some grammar tasks, explicit information about form–function mappings improves learning. Moreover, the advantage of rule instruction was robust to testing and training under time pressure. Thus, rule instruction may be helpful even when speeded performance is required, supporting the prediction that practice leads to proceduralization of declarative grammatical knowledge.

Copyright

Corresponding author

ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Nora Presson, Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh, 3939 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. E-mail: presson@pitt.edu

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