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25 - Working Memory and L2 Grammar Development in Children

from Part V - Bilingual Acquisition and Processing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 July 2022

John W. Schwieter
Wilfrid Laurier University
Zhisheng (Edward) Wen
Hong Kong Shue Yan University
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The role of working memory in language learning has received considerable attention, but several pertinent issues remain. One of these concerns the directionality of the relationships between working memory and language learning. Another issue relates to different types of processing and working memory components involved in learning different aspects of a second language (vocabulary, grammatical sub-skills, e.g., subject-verb agreement, verb placement, word order, auxiliaries). In this chapter we review and integrate findings of previous studies, following the extraction and integration model (Thiessen et al., 2013), and apply these to second language learning. In so doing, we distinguish between statistical learning based on conditional relations of adjacencies (extraction) and statistical learning based on distributional patterns of non-adjacencies (integration). We propose how L2 children's gradual increase in knowledge of the second language increases the sensitivity of working memory to cues in ambient speech that, in turn, fosters further second language learning.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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