ERIC Number: ED338080
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991
Reference Count: N/A
Acquisition of English Syntax by Non-Native Speakers. A Case Study of ESL Learning by Malayalee Children.
The process of acquisition of three syntactic structures in Engish (i.e., yes-no questions, wh-questions, and negation) was studied. The subjects were 30 school children whose native language as well as medium of instruction was Malayalam, one of the four dominant Dravidian languages. The children were in the second, fourth, and sixth year of their formal instruction in English. It is hypothesized that: (1) second language learning is a creative construction process like first-language acquisition, and that the two processes are identical; and (2) the developing transitional grammars of the learners gradually approximate the grammar of the target second language. The first hypothesis was validated, but the second was not. Among the findings are the following: (1) the chief learning strategies were simplification and over-generalization; (2) derivationally less complex structures are comparatively easier to acquire than more complex ones; (3) the English tense system seems to be a real hurdle for second language learners; and (4) the percentage of correct responses is consistently higher and that of unattempted items lower in the written tests than in the oral. Contains 14 references. (LB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Interrogatives; Negative Stipulation
Note: Paper presented at the Regional Language Centre Seminar (Singapore, April 22-28, 1991).