Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.588222
Title: The mutual influence of the first and second languages in German and English L1 speakers in second language environments
Author: Schoofs, Petra
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
The overall research question was whether the L2 in a multicompetent dynamic language system would become faster and more readily accessible to the speaker than his/her L1 after the speaker had lived in L2 environments for a number of years. The participants consisted of two test groups (German L1 speakers in the UK, and English L1 speakers in German speaking Switzerland) and three control groups (monolingual German speakers in Germany with no English, monolingual Swiss German speakers in Switzerland with no English1, and monolingual English speakers in the UK with neither Swiss German nor Standard German). Methods / instruments. A cross-linguistic experiment, a verbal fluency task and a sociolinguistic questionnaire. The analysis was carried out in three steps: 1) Comparison of group and individual access results from the cross-linguistic experiment; 2) testing six basic variables through the sociolinguistic questionnaire: the participant’s attitude towards him/herself as an attriter, the view of the participant’s peers of themselves as an attriter, the ‘length of stay in L2 environment’, ‘entry age’, ‘regular use of L1’ and ‘regular use of L2’; 3) identification of factors responsible for individual participants’ advantages by looking at four individuals in case studies. Step 1 confirmed that participants recognise and access words of their languages in a given period of time (‘Preliminary Hypothesis’). The main hypotheses that L2 words are accessed faster and that they are more readily accessible were only confirmed for individuals, but not for the ‘Group Perspective’. Step two confirmed the influence of the duration of stay and the extent to which attrition can be explained by this element. Step three, the case studies, showed the influence of early age of entry for attrition of the L1 for one participant out of the four, and of the length of stay in L2 environments for three of the participants. The conclusion is that the duration of stay in L2 environment and entry age, as well as the existence of at least one other language in the multicompetent and dynamic language system play an important role in L1 attrition. Age did not play such a highly influential role as the existence of a second language. The two languages are accommodated in the same mind and form a language supersystem (Cook 2003a). Their being merged must not be understood as a monolithic fusion but as the structured, dynamic cooperation of two (or in the case of multilinguals more) languages in one unified system. The findings confirm the influence of two languages in a merged, multicompetent, dynamic language system on each other’s accessibility, reacting on environmental input (‘adaptability’ in Dynamic Systems terminology) and communicational demands. The factor ‘time’ related to the variable ‘length of stay’ in the present study is considered the most important force in processes involving dynamic systems.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Newcastle University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.588222  DOI: Not available
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