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Title: Acquisition of be by Cantonese ESL learners in Hong Kong and its pedagogical implications
Author: Chan, Mable
ISNI:       0000 0001 3526 8654
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: The University of Essex pre-October 2008
Date of Award: 2008
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The present study of the acquisition of be by Cantonese ESL learners in Hong Kong investigates the relationship between knowledge, input and perfonnance. Be is an . .exponent of two fundamental properties of sentence structure in English: tense and. subject verb agreement. Neither of these properties is realised overtly in Cantonese and therefore Cantonese ESL learners have to establish these properties from scratch. Past research has reported different kinds of p~oblems in the acquisition of English be by learners of different L1 backgrounds, including omission, overgeneralization and substitution of be for have, but few attempts have been made to provide a comprehensive account of these interlanguage features and how the topic can facilitate our understanding of the key issues in SLA. This study aims to fill this gap by examining the data obtained from an English test which consisted of three parts: a grammaticality judgment task, a production task and an acceptability judgment task completed by 243 Cantonese ESL learners in Hong Kong (of primary two and five, secondary one, four and six, and undergraduates of year 1 and 2) and a control group of 12 native English speakers. The results shed light both on a number of theoretical and pedagogical issues: the role of the L1 in the constructions involving be, whether any properties associated with be remain persistently problematic for Cantonese speakers; what the developmental stages are in the acquisition of be; what the relationship between morphology and syntax is (i.e. between knowledge and perfonnance), and finally suggesting how teachers can make use of the findings in selecting appropriate teaching approaches, equipping themselves, and being aware of what is 'teachable'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available