Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-d2wc8 Total loading time: 0.523 Render date: 2021-10-22T17:21:59.457Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

The methodology of the research on language aptitude: A systematic review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2021

Shaofeng Li*
Affiliation:
Florida State University
Huijun Zhao
Affiliation:
Yango University
*
*Corresponding author. Email: sli9@fsu.edu

Abstract

This article provides a comprehensive and critical synthesis of the methods utilized in studies investigating the role of language aptitude in second language acquisition (SLA). The synthesis is informed by sixty-five studies generated by a thorough search of the literature, three meta-analyses (Li, 2015, 2016, 2017), and a thematic issue of Studies in Second Language Acquisition (Li & DeKeyser, in press). The synthesis starts by identifying three categories of research investigating the role of aptitude in naturalistic learning, aptitude's associations with instructed learning, and the nature of aptitude pertaining to whether it increases with age and learning experience and how it is connected to other individual difference variables. The synthesis then presents an overview and critique of major measures of aptitude and discusses the construct validity of aptitude measures based on the principles of psychometric assessments. Specifically, the measures are scrutinized along the dimensions of reliability, content validity, divergent/convergent validity, and predictive validity. The content and measurement of implicit aptitude—a newly emerged construct in SLA—are highlighted. The synthesis proceeds to summarize and vet the measures of the outcome variable of aptitude research—L2 proficiency. Throughout the synthesis, methodological features are summarized, issues are identified, and remedies are proposed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

*Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K. (2008). The robustness of aptitude effects in near-native second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30(4), 481509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
AREA, APA, & NCME. (2014). Standards for educational and psychological testing. Washington, DC: AREA.Google Scholar
*Artieda, G., & Muñoz, C. (2016). The LLAMA tests and the underlying structure of language aptitude at two levels of foreign language proficiency. Learning and Individual Differences, 50, 42–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Benson, S., & DeKeyser, R. (2019). Effects of written corrective feedback and language aptitude on verb tense accuracy. Language Teaching Research, 23, 702–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Bokander, L., & Bylund, E. (2020). Probing the internal validity of the LLAMA language aptitude tests. Language Learning, 70, 1147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Bowles, A., Chang, C., & Karuzis, V. (2016). Pitch ability as an aptitude for tone learning. Language Learning, 66, 774808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Brooks, P., Kwoka, N., & Kempe, V. (2016). Distributional effects and individual differences in L2 morphology learning. Language Learning, 67, 171207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Buffington, J., Demos, A., & Morgan-Short, K. (in press). The reliability and validity of procedural memory assessments in second language acquisition research. Studies in Second Language Acquisition.Google Scholar
Carroll, J. (1981). Twenty-five years of research on foreign language aptitude. In Diller, K., (Ed.), Individual differences and universals in language learning aptitude (pp. 83118). Newbury House.Google Scholar
Carroll, J., & Sapon, S. (2002). Manual for the MLAT. Second Language Testing, Inc.Google Scholar
*Cox, J., Lynch, J., Mendes, N., & Zhai, C. (2019). On bilingual aptitude for learning new languages: The roles of linguistic and nonlinguistic individual differences. Language Learning, 69, 478514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cronbach, J., & Furby, L. (1970) How should we measure ‘change’ or should we? Psychological Bulletin, 74, 6880.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cronbach, L., & Meehl, P. (1955). Construct validity in psychological tests. Psychological Bulletin, 52, 281302.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
*Dahlen, K., Caldwell-Harris, C. (2013). Rehearsal and aptitude in foreign vocabulary learning. Modern Language Journal, 97, 902–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*DeKeyser, R. M. (2000). The robustness of critical period effects in second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 22(4), 499533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Doughty, C. (2019). Cognitive language aptitude. Language Learning, 69, 101–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ellis, N. (2005). At the interface: Dynamic interactions of explicit and implicit language knowledge. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27, 305–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ellis, N., & Wulff, S. (2015). Usage-based approaches to SLA. In VanPatten, B. & Williams, J. (Eds.), Theories of second language acquisition (pp. 75–93). Routledge.Google Scholar
Ellis, R. (2005). Measuring implicit and explicit knowledge of a second language: A psychometric study. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27, 141–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Erlam, R. (2005). Language aptitude and its relationship to instructional effectiveness in second language acquisition. Language Teaching Research, 9(2), 147–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Faretta-Stutenberg, M., & Morgan-Short, K. (2018). The interplay of individual differences and context of learning in behavioural and neurocognitive second language development. Second Language Research, 34, 67101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using SPSS. Sage.Google Scholar
Gass, S. (2018). Input, interaction, and the second language learner. Routledge.Google Scholar
*Godfroid, A., & Kim, K. (in press). On the contributions of implicit-statistical learning aptitude to implicit grammatical knowledge. Studies in Second Language Acquisition.Google Scholar
*Granena, G. (2013). Individual differences in sequence learning ability and second language acquisition in early childhood and adulthood. Language Learning, 63(4), 665704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Granena, G. (2015). Cognitive aptitudes for implicit and explicit learning and information-processing styles: An individual differences study. Applied Psycholinguistics, 37, 577600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Granena, G. (2019). Cognitive aptitudes and L2 speaking proficiency. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 41, 313–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Granena, G., & Long, M. H. (2013). Age of onset, length of residence, language aptitude, and ultimate L2 attainment in three linguistic domains. Second Language Research, 29(3), 311–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Hamrick, P. (2015). Declarative and procedural memory abilities as individual differences in incidental language learning. Learning and Individual Differences, 44, 915.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Hodel, A., Markant, J., Van Den Heuvel, S., Cirilli-Raether, J., & Thomas, K. (2014). Developmental differences in effects of task pacing on implicit sequence learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 110.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
*Hu, X., Ackermann, H., Kartin, J., Erb, M., Winkler, S., & Reiterer, S. (2013). Language aptitude for pronunciation in advanced second language (L2) learners: Behavioural predictors and neural substrates. Brain & Language, 127, 366–76.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
*Hummel, K. (2009). Aptitude, phonological memory, and second language proficiency in nonnovice adult learners. Applied Psycholinguistics, 30, 225–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Hwu, F., Wei, P., & Sun, S. (2014). Aptitude-treatment interaction effects on explicit rule learning: A latent growth curve analysis. Language Teaching Research, 18, 294319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Kasprowicz, R., Marsden, E., & Sephton, N. (2019). Investigating distribution of practice effects for the learning of foreign language verb morphology in the young learner classroom. Modern Language Journal, 103, 580606.Google Scholar
*Kaufman, S., DeYoung, C., Gray, J., Jiménez, L., Brown, J., & Mackintosh, N. (2010). Implicit learning as an ability. Cognition, 116, 321–40.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
*Kiss, C., & Nikolov, M. (2005). Developing, piloting, and validating an instrument to measure young learners’ aptitude. Language Learning, 55, 99150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Kormos, J. & Trebits, A. (2012). The role of task complexity, modality, and aptitude in narrative task performance. Language Learning, 62, 439–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Kourtali, N., & Révész, A. (2020). The roles of recasts, task complexity, and aptitude in child second language development. Language Learning, 70, 179218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Lado, B. (2017). Aptitude and pedagogical conditions in the early development of a nonprimary language. Applied Psycholinguistics, 38, 679701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Li, S. (2013). The interactions between the effects of implicit and explicit feedback and individual differences in language analytic ability and working memory. Modern Language Journal, 97, 634–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Li, S. (2015). The associations between language aptitude and second language grammar acquisition: A meta-analytic review of five decades of research. Applied Linguistics, 36, 385408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Li, S. (2016). The construct validity of language aptitude. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 38, 801–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Li, S. (2017). The effects of cognitive aptitudes on the process and product of L2 interaction: A synthetic review. In Gurzynski-Weiss, L. (Ed.), Expanding individual difference research in the interaction approach: Investigating learners, instructors and researchers (pp. 4170). John Benjamins.Google Scholar
Li, S. (2018). Language aptitude. In Burns, A. & Richards, J. (Eds.), Cambridge guide to learning English as a second language (pp. 6372). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
*Li, M., & DeKeyser, R. (2017). Perception practice, production practice, and musical ability in L2 Mandarin tone-word learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 39, 593620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Li, S., & DeKeyser, R. (in press). Implicit language aptitude: Conceptualizing the construct, validating the measures, and examining the evidence. Studies in Second Language Acquisition.Google Scholar
*Li, S., & Qian, J. (in press). Exploring syntactic priming as a measure of implicit aptitude. Studies in Second Language Acquisition.Google Scholar
*Li, S., Ellis, R., and Zhu, Y. (2019). The associations between cognitive ability and L2 development under five different instructional conditions. Applied Psycholinguistics, 40, 693722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Li, S., & Wang, H. (2018). Traditional literature review and research synthesis. In Phakiti, A., De Costa, P., Plonsky, L., & Starfield, S. (Eds.), Palgrave handbook of applied linguistics research methodology (pp. 123–44). London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Linck, J. A., Hughes, M. M., Campbell, S. G., Silbert, N. H., Tare, M., Jackson, S. R., Smith, B. K., Bunting, M. F., & Doughty, C. J. (2013). Hi-LAB: A new measure of aptitude for high-level language proficiency. Language Learning, 63(3), 530–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Long, M. (2015). Second language acquisition and task-based language teaching. Blackwell.Google Scholar
Mackey, A. (2020). Interaction, feedback, and task research in second language learning: Methods and design. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meara, P. (2005). LLAMA Language Aptitude Tests. Lognostics.Google Scholar
*Morgan-Short, K., Faretta-Stutenberg, M., Brill-Schuetz, K., Carpenter, H., & Wong, P. (2014). Declarative and procedural memory as individual differences in second language acquisition. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 17, 5672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Potter, C., Wang, T., & Saffran, J. (2017). Second language experience facilitates statistical learning of novel linguistic materials. Cognitive Science, 41, 913–27.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Robinson, P. (Ed.) (2011). Second language task complexity. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Roehr-Brackin, K., & Tellier, A. (2019). The role of language-analytic ability in children's instructed second language learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 41, 1111–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Sáfár, A., & Kormos, J. (2008). Revisiting problems with foreign language aptitude. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 46(2), 113–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Saito, K., Sun, H., & Tierney, A. (2019). Explicit and implicit aptitude effects on second language speech learning: Scrutinizing segmental and suprasegmental sensitivity and performance via behavioural and neurophysiological measures. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 22(5) 1123–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Sheen, Y. (2008). The effect of focused written corrective feedback and language aptitude on ESL learners’ acquisition of articles. TESOL Quarterly, 41, 255–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Shintani, N., & Ellis, R. (2015). Does language analytical ability mediate the effect of written feedback on grammatical accuracy in second language writing? System, 49, 110–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skehan, P. (2012). Language aptitude. In Gass, S. & Mackey, A. (Eds.), Handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 381–95). Routledge.Google Scholar
*Smemoe, W., & Haslam, N. (2013). The effect of language learning aptitude, strategy use, and learning context on L2 pronunciation learning. Applied Linguistics, 34, 435–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spada, N., & Tomita, Y. (2010). Interactions between type of instruction and type of language feature: A meta-analysis”. Language Learning, 60, 263308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Sparks, R. L., Patton, J., Ganschow, L., & Humbach, N. (2012). Relationships among L1 print exposure and early L1 literacy skills, L2 aptitude, and L2 proficiency. Reading and Writing, 25, 15991634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Suzuki, Y. (2018). The role of procedural learning ability in automatization of L2 morphology under different learning schedules: An exploratory study. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 40, 923–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Suzuki, Y. (in press). Probing the construct validity of LLAMA_D as a measure of implicit learning aptitude: Incidental instructions, confidence ratings, and reaction time measure. Studies in Second Language Acquisition.Google Scholar
*Suzuki, Y., & DeKeyser, R. (2015). Comparing elirefd imitation and word monitoring as measures of implicit knowledge. Language Learning, 65, 860–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Suzuki, Y., & DeKeyser, R. (2017). The interface of explicit and implicit knowledge in a second language: Insights from individual differences in cognitive aptitudes. Language Learning, 65, 860–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ullman, M., & Lovelett, J. (2018). Implications of the declarative/procedural model for improving second language learning: The role of memory enhancement techniques. Second Language Research, 34, 3965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*VanPatten, B., & Borst, S. (2012). The roles of explicit information and grammatical sensitivity in processing instruction: Nominative-accusative case marking and word order in German L2. Foreign Language Annals, 45(1), 92109.Google Scholar
*Walker, N., Monaghan, P., Schoetensack, C., & Rebuschat, P. (2020). Distinctions in the acquisition of vocabulary and grammar: An individual differences approach. Language Learning, 70, 221–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Winke, P. (2005). Individual differences in adult Chinese second language acquisition: The relationships between aptitude, memory, and strategies for learning [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Georgetown University.Google Scholar
*Winke, P. (2013). An investigation into second language aptitude for advanced Chinese language learning. Modern Language Journal, 97, 109–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Yalçın, Ş., Çeçen, S., & Erçetin, G. (2016). The relationship between aptitude and working memory: an instructed SLA context. Language Awareness, 25, 144–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Yalçın, Ş., & Spada, N. (2016). Language aptitude and grammatical difficulty: An EFL classroom-based study. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 38, 239–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Yi, W. (2018). Statistical sensitivity, cognitive aptitudes, and processing of collocations. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 40(4), 831–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Yilmaz, Y. (2013). Relative effects of explicit and implicit feedback: The role of working memory and language analytic ability. Applied Linguistics, 34, 344–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
*Yilmaz, Y., & Granena, G. (2019). Cognitive individual differences as predictors of improvement and awareness under implicit and explicit feedback conditions. Modern Language Journal, 103, 686702.Google Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Li and Zhao supplementary material

Appendix A and B

Download Li and Zhao supplementary material(File)
File 29 KB

Linked content

Please note a has been issued for this article.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The methodology of the research on language aptitude: A systematic review
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

The methodology of the research on language aptitude: A systematic review
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

The methodology of the research on language aptitude: A systematic review
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *