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International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching

Ed. by Jordens, Peter / Roberts, Leah

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Native-like attainment of dummy subjects in Dutch and the role of the L1

Sonja van Boxtel / Theo Bongaerts / Peter-Arno Coppen

Citation Information: International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching. Volume 43, Issue 4, Pages 355–380, ISSN (Online) 1613-4141, ISSN (Print) 0019-042X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/iral.2005.43.4.355, November 2005

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In this study, we test the prediction, derived from the Critical Period Hypothesis, that a native level in L2 grammar cannot be attained by learners who start acquiring a second language after childhood. We selected 43 very advanced late learners of Dutch (native speakers of German, French and Turkish) and compared their performance on a grammar test with that of 44 native speakers of Dutch. The test consisted of an elicited imitation task and a sentence preference task. In these tasks, participants were tested on their knowledge of dummy subject constructions. These construction types are known to be very hard to acquire for L2-learners of Dutch and are hardly covered in Dutch grammars or L2 Dutch textbooks. The results show that it is possible to attain a native level of proficiency for learners who start acquiring an L2 after puberty, even for learners with a typologically distant L1.

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