Individual Differences in Sequence Learning Ability and Second Language Acquisition in Early Childhood and Adulthood


  • Gisela Granena

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Maryland
    • Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Gisela Granena, University of Maryland, Second Language Acquisition, 4120 Jimenez Hall, College Park, MD 20742. E-mail:

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  • This work was supported by National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant #1124126 to Michael H. Long (PI) and Gisela Granena (Co-PI), as well as by a Language Learning Dissertation grant.


Language aptitude has been hypothesized as a factor that can compensate for postcritical period effects in language learning capacity. However, previous research has primarily focused on instructed contexts and rarely on acquisition-rich learning environments where there is a potential for massive amounts of input. In addition, the studies conducted to date have investigated cognitive aptitudes weighted heavily in favor of explicit processes (e.g., language analysis) and have overlooked potential individual differences in implicit cognitive processes. This study examines whether sequence learning ability (one aspect of a cognitive aptitude hypothesized to be relevant for implicit language learning and processing) is involved in early and late second language learners’ morphosyntactic attainment, as measured by two types of structures and tasks. Results revealed that sequence learning ability moderated scores on structures involving grammatical agreement relations in both early and late second language learners.