The role of conflicting representations and uncertainty in internal error detection during L2 learning
Number of pages
SourceLanguage Learning, 70, S2, (2020), pp. 75-103
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
SW OZ DCC PL
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control; Cognitive aspects of Multilingualism; Language & Communication; Psycholinguistics
Internal error monitoring as reflected by the error-related negativity (ERN) component can give insight in the L2 learning process. Yet, beginning stages of learning are characterized by high levels of uncertainty, which obscures the process of error detection. We examine how uncertainty about L2 syntactic representations, induced by different levels of language conflict, is reflected in the ERN effect during learning. German learners of Dutch performed a feedback-guided gender decision task in their L2 and were asked to give subjective certainty ratings for their responses. Results indicate that initially, high conflict items yielded more uncertainty and showed an inverse ERN effect, i.e., larger negativities for correct compared to erroneous responses. Two rounds of feedback resulted in an increase of behavioural accuracy, lower levels of uncertainty, and an expected ERN effect, signalling effective error monitoring. These outcomes demonstrate how subjective intuitions about response accuracy affect performance monitoring during L2 learning.
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