This book presents studies that were designed to investigate the contribution of statistical learning to acquiring meaningful grammatical elements, and the role of awareness in that process. Using a series of miniature language learning experiments, we first aimed to investigate whether kindergarteners develop awareness of the grammatical knowledge they acquire. Next, we also wondered whether young children benefit from being made aware of their target of learning, by receiving explicit instruction about what it is they have to learn.
While not all results presented in this book were conclusive, we did find evidence that young children may be aware of their acquired linguistic knowledge, even though they cannot verbalize this awareness. The outcomes of our instruction studies were mixed: explicit instruction seemingly did not lead to higher accuracy rates in tasks measuring learning, but it did seem to affect children's eye movements during such tasks.
With these studies, we aim to show that statistical learning, awareness, and explicit instruction all come into play when children acquire meaningful grammatical elements. Although the combination of these factors is an under- researched topic, we think that this book shows that such research might be promising.