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Tapping the Distinction Between Explicit and Implicit Knowledge: Methodological Issues

  • Mirosław Pawlak
Chapter
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)

Abstract

Second language acquisition research often involves the need to determine the degree of attainment in the target language, either with a view to establishing the effects of a specific pedagogic intervention or to gaining insights into the relationship between the proficiency level and some other variable, such as strategy use, anxiety or motivation. While in some cases it is sufficient to rely on quite general data, such as self-evaluations, course grades or scores on different types of examinations, experimental or quasi-experimental studies, particularly those focusing on the acquisition of grammar, call for the use of much more sensitive tools. Such measures should help researchers gain insights into the effects of the treatment not only in terms of explicit knowledge of a given linguistic feature, which refers to the familiarity with relevant rules and the ability to apply them on traditional tests, but also implicit knowledge, which is reflective of subconscious or highly automatized knowledge and the ability to use the targeted form in relatively spontaneous communication (DeKeyser, 2007, 2010, 2017; Ellis, 2005a, 2005b, 2009a). However, there are major challenges involved in designing tasks tapping the two types of linguistic knowledge and a question arises about the extent to which these two types of representation can in fact be teased apart. The paper aims to discuss the methodological issues involved in the measurement of explicit and implicit second language knowledge, evaluate options currently available to researchers, as well as making suggestions with respect to how this task can best be attained in classroom-oriented research.

Keywords

Explicit knowledge Implicit knowledge Highly automatized explicit knowledge Communicative task performance 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English Studies, Faculty of Pedagogy and Fine ArtsAdam Mickiewicz UniversityKaliszPoland
  2. 2.State University of Applied SciencesKoninPoland

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