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The role of first language influence in the learning of second language grammar: The case of his/her in English

Title:

The role of first language influence in the learning of second language grammar: The case of his/her in English

Lapierre, Cynthia (2018) The role of first language influence in the learning of second language grammar: The case of his/her in English. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The present study addresses the potential role of crosslinguistic influence (e.g., Luk & Shirai, 2009) on the development of second language (L2) grammar acquisition (e.g., Goldschneider & DeKeyser, 2001). White (1998) developed an 8-stage framework for the acquisition of possessive determiners (PDs) his and her in English (Spada & Lightbown, 1999; White et al., 2007), which captured common stages of development as learners progressed towards mastery of this feature. To date, however, studies have involved Romance speakers only, for whom difficulties may result from incongruencies in the gender agreement rule for PDs between their first language (L1) and L2 English. In French, for example, the PD is determined by the grammatical gender of the possessed (e.g., Il [masc.] parle à sa mère [fem.]/son père [masc.]) rather than that of the possessor, as in English (e.g., He [masc.] speaks to his [masc.] mother/father). We investigated whether White’s (1998) framework similarly captures development for L1 Taiwanese Mandarin (TM), a language which does not have 1) PDs, or 2) grammatical gender. Fifty-seven participants (aged 8 to 12) completed: (1) a grammaticality judgment task, (2) an oral picture-description task, and (3) a stimulated recall of (1). Results of a cross-sectional analysis suggest that L1 TM follow the broad three-category progression of White’s framework, including the phase during which learners struggle with using the correct PD in kin-different contexts (e.g., a father and his daughter), although this was more evident in production than comprehension (see also, Pozzan & Antón-Méndez, 2017). However, participants did not appear to require the full set of sub-stages of the framework. In particular, L1-influenced forms were used in lieu of his/her (e.g., she/she’s father). Overall, our findings suggest that there are both universal as well as L1-particular factors influencing learners on their path to acquisition of a grammatical feature in the L2.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Lapierre, Cynthia
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Applied Linguistics
Date:2018
Thesis Supervisor(s):Collins, Laura
ID Code:984295
Deposited By: Cynthia Lapierre
Deposited On:16 Nov 2018 14:53
Last Modified:16 Nov 2018 14:53
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