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Volume 19 Number 1, Spring 2022, Pages 1-397   

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L2 English Knowledge: Implicit, Explicit, or Automatized? The Role of Structure Difficulty

    Sepideh Mehraein, Hamideh Marefat & Hossein Karami

The purpose of the current study was to examine the effect structure difficulty may have on the type of knowledge representation L2 learners draw on in different measures of linguistic knowledge. To this aim, word monitoring task (WMT), elicited imitation task (EI), timed grammaticality judgment test (TGJT), untimed grammaticality judgment test (UGJT), and metalinguistic knowledge test (MKT), each consisting of an equal number of easy and difficult structures, were employed. The results of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) demonstrated that the easy items of GJTs, irrespective of time condition, tap into the construct of automatized knowledge and the difficult ones of EI, TGJT, UGJT, and MKT into explicit knowledge. Additionally, in all the tests the participants' performance on the easy items significantly differed from that on the difficult ones. Therefore, it can be concluded that structure difficulty is a contributing factor in discriminating different knowledge types and has a pivotal role in learners' use of linguistic knowledge.

Keywords: implicit knowledge, explicit knowledge, automatized knowledge, structure difficulty, confirmatory factor analysis