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Title: Testing theories of second language acquisition : evidence from Japanese learners' English
Author: Muroya , Akiko
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 5446
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2015
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This study investigates five topics that have been at the heart of research into second language (L2) acquisition for over three decades: (1) the nature of early L2 grammars and whether they contain both lexical and functional categories; (2) the role that the native language (L 1) plays in L2 acquisition; (3) the source of variable production by L2 speakers of properties that are categorical for L1 speakers; (4) the relationship between the acquisition of morphological properties and syntactic operations; (S) the involvement of a putative Universal Grammar. These topics are investigated in the context of Japanese-speaking classroom learners of English. Data were collected through two production tasks, one written the other oral. While there have been many studies of the topics in question with naturalistic L2 learners of English, there have been fewer studies with classroom learners. The general view in generative studies ofL2 acquisition has been that linguistic development will be the same, whatever the context of learning. However, this is an empirical question and the present study provides evidence bearing on it. Findings suggest that early-stage learners have grammars for English that have both functional and lexical categories. The functional categories are specified for features that are syntactically relevant (for verb raising, for the determination of obligatory subjects, for appropriate case marking, for the obligatory fronting of wh-words). Properties that are transferred from the Ll are not predictable simply on the basis of comparing differences between the two languages. Variability in production appears to be explicable largely in terms of learners' (re)assembling features for English lexical items which differ from their Japanese counterparts, combined with the difficulty of accessing forms where processing load is heavy (the Missing Surface Inflection hypothesis). There was no evidence of participants needing to acquire the morphological paradigms of English before establishing syntactic rules. Finally, there was limited, but suggestive, evidence that the L2 grammars of+the classroom learners studied are guided by UG.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available