Cognitive and social factors in explaining language acquisition : a study of the spoken English of the Hong Kong Cantonese adolescents in London
Through combining the traditional Chomskyan approach as well as the sociolinguistic approach to language learning, the present research explores the production of 12 English linguistic features by 12 Hong Kong Cantonese adolescent informants living in London. An analysis of their social practices is also undertaken and linked to their production of these linguistic features. The research relies on participant observation and data elicited from interviews with the 12 informants. These informants were born in Hong Kong and arrived in London at age 5, 8, and 10. The findings suggest that cognitive and social factors play an important part in language learning. These factors include the critical period, social network, and other social practices like reading, taking part in school-organised extracurricular activities. The research underscores the importance of social factors in the explanation of language behaviour in migrant communities.