Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Raquel Serrano (1) and Àngels Llanes (2). An exploratory study of the role of age and language learning aptitude in a short stay abroad: 107-126.


The purpose of this study is to analyze the effect of age and aptitude on the second language (L2) gains made in English by a group of Catalan/Spanish bilinguals who spent three weeks in the United Kingdom. The participants included 39 learners aged between 12 and 17 years old. Aptitude was measured through a vocabulary test (LLAMA B, Meara, 2005), which examines rote memory. Participants' L2 skills were analyzed through a grammaticality judgment test (GJT) and a formulaic sequences test (FST). The results indicate that the L2 learners made significant gains in the two tests after a three-week stay abroad. Additionally, both age and aptitude had a significant impact on the type of language gains the learners made: older learners outperformed younger learners in the two tasks, and high aptitude learners outperformed low aptitude learners in the FST. Nevertheless, no interactions were observed between L2 gains and age or aptitude.

Keywords: stay abroad, young learners, aptitude, grammar, formulaic sequences

(1) Universitat de Barcelona, Spain. (2) Universitat de Lleida, Spain.

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