This article deals with the acquisition of four Mandarin sentence final particles ma, a, ba, ne by Italian native speakers. The research gives a contribution to the study of sentence final particles from an acquisition and didactic perspective, which has been scarcely investigated in the linguistic literature. The article proposes a quantitative and qualitative experimental analysis with two groups of Italian learners, one at elementary proficiency level and one at intermediate level. The research shows that ne and ba are the most challenging particles to acquire by Italian learners. We argue that this due to the fact that ne and ba are highly polyfunctional and they do not simply determine the type of clause. The functions of ne and ba tested in this paper, in fact, are better defined as discourse particles, whose meaning is highly dependent from the context. Moreover, the experiment demonstrates not only that the proficiency level is straightforward correlated to the mastery of sentence final particles, as expected, but also that the didactic tools play a crucial role. As a matter of fact, the results of this study opens up a number of pedagogical implications in relation to the teaching of Mandarin sentence final particles to Italian learners.
The present study aims at determining whether instruction in the form of explicit phonetic training and of implicit exposure to native input impacted Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) students’ phonological awareness of the occurrence of English schwa in unstressed syllables of content words (bacon). Four intact CLIL groups were administered a perception task immediately before and after an intervention period of one month in which two groups underwent explicit instruction on the incidence of reduced vowels versus full vowels in English disyllabic words while another group was exposed to native input in their CLIL sessions. A fourth CLIL group with neither explicit intervention nor native teacher input served as control group. All four groups tended to judge both schwas and full vowels as correct in the pre-test, indicating that they were not knowledgeable of the general pattern of vowel reduction occurrence in unstressed syllables in English prior to intervention. In the post-test, the three experimental groups significantly improved their ability to identify full vowels as incorrect, the groups receiving explicit instruction exhibiting higher gains than the group which was implicitly exposed to native input.
This paper is the first to examine the motivational disposition of Nepalese learners of L2 English. Based on an adapted version of the questionnaire in (Kormos, Judit & Kata Csizér. 2008. Age-related differences in motivation of learning English as a foreign language: Attitudes, selves, and motivated behavior. Language Learning 58. 327–355. Doi:10.1111/j.1467-9922.2008.00443.x.), we test the robustness and culture-specific applicability of well-known motivational antecedents to this learner population, and we investigate how the effects of these antecedents are mediated by the learners’ gender, age and regional aspects of the educational setting. In doing so, we offer novel ways of analyzing the data: Firstly, we employ random forests and conditional inference trees for assessing the relative importance of motivational antecedents. Secondly, we complement the traditional ‘scale-based approach’, which focuses on holistic constructs like the ‘Ideal L2 Self’, with an ‘item-based approach’ that highlights more specific components of such scales. The results are interpreted with reference to the L2 Motivational Self System (Dörnyei, Zoltán. 2005. The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum) and to previous studies on other Asian populations of L2 learners.
This study investigates whether second language (L2) speakers can pre-empt a first language (L1) property which involves uninterpretable features, such as resumption. The Interpretability Hypothesis predicts persistent L1 effects in L2 grammars because uninterpretable features resist resetting beyond some critical period (Tsimpli and Dimitrakopoulou 2007). Unlike English, Saudi Arabic allows grammatical resumption in complex wh-interrogatives, which is highly preferred with (D)iscourse-linked wh-forms (e. g. ʔayy-NP ‘which-NP’) but disallowed with non-D-linked ones (e. g. ʔeeʃ ‘what’). The study was conducted with fifteen native English speakers and 34 (very)-advanced Saudi Arabic L2 speakers of English with age of onset (AO 1–13 years). In a bimodal, timed acceptability judgment task, their accuracy judgments of 32 (un)grammatical wh-interrogatives were tested. As predicted, results show that L2 speakers of very advanced levels inaccurately accepted resumption especially with D-linked wh-interrogatives. The results also show non-significant differences between AO 1–6 and 7–13 years in their rejection accuracy of resumption.
Target language proficiency assessment has become an integral part of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research design, with cloze tests frequently serving this purpose for reasons of practicality. Assumptions underlying the interpretation of such cloze test scores, however, are often not examined. With the goal of providing researchers with better means for drawing inferences from cloze test scores, we present an analysis of a combined dataset comprised of scores from 1,724 test takers on a frequently used English cloze test (Brown 1980). We examine variation in score distributions and reliability estimates among L2 groups, between L2 and native-speaker (NS) examinees, and for different scoring methods, and investigate the degree to which different sets of items were effective for classifying low- vs high-proficiency L2 examinees and L2 vs NS test takers. Standardized scores are provided for each scoring method so that future researchers can reference their scores to this larger set.