An exploration of explicit and implicit learning of rules by English Second Language learners

  • Diana Ayliff


This article addresses the issue of whether second language learners of English can benefit from explicitly taught rules. It describes research carried out on 264 South African respondents at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University – hereafter referred to as NMMU (previously known as the University of Port Elizabeth),  some of whom were first and some second language speakers of English. The research replicates in a multilingual environment one done by Green and Hecht (1992) in which twelve errors commonly committed by German learners of English were given to 300 respondents at various levels from school pupils to university students. It was found that the South African respondents were less likely than the German ones to be able to articulate rules of grammar and also less able to correct the errors. If they were able to state which rule of grammar had been broken they were almost always able to correct the error.


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Author Biography

Diana Ayliff
Diana Ayliff teaches in the Department of Language and Literature at the Somerstrand Campus of the Metropolitan University. Her teaching interests include second language teaching, academic English and Victorian Literature. Her research interest is in second language teaching and acquisition.Email: