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Title: An investigation into the role of analogy in instructed second language acquisition
Author: Harris, Andrew James
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Usage-based approaches to Second Language Acquisition (SLA) hold that grammatical development can at least in part be explained by a trajectory from initially entrenched formulaic chunks of linguistic material through partially abstract low-scope patterns to abstract constructions. Although earlier empirical research found little to support such a trajectory, more recent research suggests that when the methodological focus is on the breakdown of tokens not on the acquisition of abstract morphology formulaic chunks do seem to develop into at least low-scope patterns. What is not clear from these later studies, however, is why users select tokens from the environment, how these selections are repurposed to meet communicative needs and what grammatical development may be the result of such repurposing. Drawing on insights into usage-based approaches to SLA in general, and specifically predictions that the analogical processing of similar tokens can explain in part a trajectory from tokens in the linguistic environment to abstract constructions, this study investigates whether intervention in the form of task demands and written task productions can drive the selection and repurposing of task-relevant input, and whether such repurposing may influence the development of past-counterfactual constructions in instructed SLA. The study uses a classroom-based pre-test/post-test quasi-experimental design with pre-sessional university students in intact classes (n=92). Out of the three groups in the study, one group were exposed to instances of past counterfactuals which were identical to the forms needed for task completion in terms of function and lexical items (Literal Group). A second group were exposed to instances which called for the same function but different lexical items for successful task completion (Analogous Group), while a third group were not exposed to input. Results show that the analogous processing of task-relevant tokens led to positive and significant gains on most acceptability judgment and production test measures. Regression models further show that the selection of tokens explained very little variance, while analogical processing, operationalised as the repurposing of tokens to fit task demands, explained a significant amount of the variance in the same models. These findings highlight the importance of analogical processing in SLA and the significant implications such processing has for cognitive accounts of SLA and for second language teaching.
Supervisor: Walter, Catherine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Applied linguistics ; Second Language Acquisition ; Usage-Based Approaches ; Task-Based Learning