Analogies, explanations, and practice: Examining how task types affect second language grammar learning

Ruth Wylie, Kenneth Koedinger, Teruko Mitamura

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations


Self-explanation is an effective instructional strategy for improving problem solving in math and science domains. However, our previous studies, within the domain of second language grammar learning, show self-explanation to be no more effective than simple practice; perhaps the metalinguistic challenges involved in explaining using one's non-native language are hampering the potential benefits. An alternative strategy is tutoring using analogical comparisons, which reduces language difficulties while continuing to encourage feature focusing and deep processing. In this paper, we investigate adult English language learners learning the English article system (e.g. the difference between "a dog" and "the dog"). We present the results of a classroom-based study (N=99) that compares practice-only to two conditions that facilitate deep processing: self-explanation with practice and analogy with practice. Results show that students in all conditions benefit from the instruction. However, students in the practice-only condition complete the instruction in significantly less time leading to greater learning efficiency. Possible explanations regarding the differences between language and science learning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIntelligent Tutoring Systems - 10th International Conference, ITS 2010, Proceedings
Number of pages10
EditionPART 1
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
Event10th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, ITS 2010 - Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2010Jun 18 2010

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
NumberPART 1
Volume6094 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other10th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, ITS 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPittsburgh, PA


  • Analogical comparisons
  • Intelligent tutoring systems
  • Second language learning
  • Self-explanation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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