Idioma: Español
Fecha: Subida: 2021-04-15T00:00:00+02:00
Duración: 17m 24s
Lugar: Conferencia
Visitas: 69 visitas

Acquisition of English articles by L1-Chinese and L1-Spanish speakers: a learner corpus study

Ting Xu y Amaya Mendikoetxea (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)


The acquisition of the article system is the focus of great interest in second language (L2) acquisition (SLA) (e,g, Mayo & Hawkins, 2009). Part of the difficulties observed in the L2 acquisition of articles are due to the fact that knowledge of the article system is at the interface between syntax, semantics and pragmatics. Of particular interest is the L2 acquisition of articles by L1 speakers of languages that lack such elements, as it allows us to explore central issues in SLA, such as the role of transfer, L2 input and Universal Grammar. This is the case for L1 Chinese-L2 English learners, who show persistent problems in using the articles in the right contexts (cf. Díez Bedmar & Papp, 2008). The present study is meant to be a contribution to this growing body of research by analysing the use (and misuse) of articles in a subcorpus of 28 essays written by L1-Chinese and L1-Spanish learners of English extracted from the International Corpus of Learner English (Granger et al., 2009). The research interest in these two comparable corpora lies in that Chinese is a language without articles while Spanish is a language with articles, though the article system in Spanish is not exactly the same as that in English.

The theoretical background is that of Ionin et al. (2004)’s Fluctuation Hypothesis. Ionin et al. (2004) claim that in languages with two distinct articles, such as a and the in English (and un/a(s)/os and el/lla/las/los in Spanish), the two forms are distinguished according to either definiteness or specificity, and English, like Spanish, encodes definiteness. Ionin et al. (2004) predict that L2 learners whose L1 lack article systems would fluctuate between two parameter settings of article choice in the L2 (definiteness vs. specificity) in the absence of L1 transfer, under the assumption that learners have full access to Universal Grammar. The role of the L1 is further explored in Ionin et al. (2008). Based on findings by Ionin et al. (2004, 200), we hypothesize that lower accuracy of article choice in both definite and indefinite contexts will be revealed in the L1-Chinese subcorpus comparing with the L1-Spanish subcorpus, given that L1-Spanish learners can rely on L1 transfer. Our results, however, expose the accuracy of article use in definite contexts in L1-Chinese corpora is higher than L1-Spanish. Besides, article selection patterns in both L1-Chinese and L1-Spanish corpora do not follow the prediction of the Fluctuation Hypothesis. This seems to indicate that the Fluctuation Hypothesis is in itself not valid to account the role of L1 transfer in the acquisition of English articles in line with studies such as Hawkins et al. (2006) and Tryzna (2009). In order to get a full picture of the acquisition of articles, including L1 transfer, it is necessary to do a fine-grained analysis of learning errors which takes into account misuse as well as article omission.


Congreso Cilc 2021


Nuevo comentario

Serie: CILC2021: Los corpus y la adquisición y enseñanza del lenguaje / Corpora, LA and teaching (+información)