Bilateral (Hong Kong): Implicit language learning: A cross-linguistic investigation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: English and Applied Linguistics


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.


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Description We have developed a simple methodology for exploring implicit learning of a linguistic rule using a continuous reaction time task. We have used this to expose how the nature of the first language influences the unconscious learning of structures in a novel language. Implicit learning of the same regularity may or may not occur depending on prior knowledge. This shows that implicit learning is constrained by linguistic knowledge, and not just a simple associative, or statistical learning mechanism.
Exploitation Route Williams & Leung have subsequently used the same method to explore further constraints, and Williams and others have begun to model the results using computational models. Independent researchers in the USA (Laura Batterink & Helen Neville (University of Oregon) have adapted the experimental procedure and items for use with EEG recording to explore the neural basis of the effects that we obtained. Williams is planning to do similar work using MEG, still using the same basic experimental technique.
Sectors Education,Other

Description The findings from this research have been taken up by other, independent research groups, leading to related publications: Gai, S. (2013). Implicit Learning by Chinese Adult EFL Learners: Extending Leung & Williams (2012). Foreign Language Teaching and Research, 2. Batterink, L. & Neville, H. (submitted) Sleep-Associated Influences on the Acquisition of a Novel Linguistic Rule .
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural

Title Materials and methods deposited on IRIS database 
Description A reaction time method for studying implicit language learning 
Type Of Material Physiological assessment or outcome measure 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The materials and related scripts for running the experiments have been deposited on the IRIS data base - a digital repository of data collection instruments for research into second language learning and teaching (ESRC funded) 
Description Batterink & Neville collaboration 
Organisation University of Oregon
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our items, design, and procedure. Batterink & Neville then adapted them for use with EEG recording.
Collaborator Contribution Development of further materials, modification to the design, collecting and analysing EEG data, writing an article.
Impact Batterink, H. & Neville, H. (submitted). Sleep-Associated Influences on the Acquisition of a Novel Linguistic Rule. Multidisciplinary: psycholinguistics (Williams), Neuroscience (Batterink & Neville). Williams does not appear as an author because I simply provided them with my materials and design. But we did discuss design issues as the project developed. In the end they shifted the focus to the effect of sleep, and I was not involved in this. So I decided not to insist on co-authorship in the end, even though it was offered.
Start Year 2013
Description EEG experiments at United Arab Emirates University 
Organisation United Arab Emirates University
Country United Arab Emirates 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Brain responses to implicitly learned linguistic regularities
Start Year 2012
Description Implicit adult language learning : prospects and limitations 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A talk in which I described the results of the experiments carried out during the ESRC project.

None that I am aware of.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
Description Implicit language learning : form-meaning connections 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Lecture in which I describe the paradigm developed during the ESRC project, the results obtained, and the rationale for performing EEG experiments using this method.

No impacts that I am aware of. It was an academic talk designed to introduce people to this area of research and inspire them to perform similar work themselves.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012