This study explored the main effects and interaction effects of implicit learning and explicit instructional approaches on the language acquisition of beginning adult and child learners of Chinese and analyzed the successful adult and child learners' learning styles in their information processing time, second language acquisition techniques, and cognitive strategies. Volunteers from Brigham Young University and Wasatch Elementary School were randomly assigned to either an Explicit Instruction Treatment (EIT) or an Implicit Learning Treatment (ILT). Following the treatment, the participants completed an online survey and a vocabulary application test. Results from a 2 x 2 factorial ANOVA indicated that adults performed significantly better than children on the listening and vocabulary tests scores (F (1, 135) =158.901, p<.001), and the EIT was significantly more effective than the ILT. There was no interaction between maturity and treatment factors. Results from a 3 x 2 factorial MANOVA indicated that in the Learning Phase, adults in the high and mid performance groups spent significantly longer processing information than those in the low performance group, and adults in the EIT also spent a longer time than those in the ILT. Results from the stepwise regression showed that for successful adult and child learners, Phonological Processing was the most frequently used second language strategy for both adults and children, which was strongly correlated with their vocabulary application test scores. Guessing was the most popular cognitive strategy. Successful children spent significantly less time than the low performing children in the Testing Phase.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





instructional technology, implicit learning, explicit instruction, second language acquisition, cognitive strategies, information processing