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ERIC Number: ED533854
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 235
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1249-7540-5
EFL Learners' Production of Questions over Time: Linguistic, Usage-Based, and Developmental Features
Nekrasova-Beker, Tatiana M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Northern Arizona University
The recognition of second language (L2) development as a dynamic process has led to different claims about how language development unfolds, what represents a learner's linguistic system (i.e., interlanguage) at a certain point in time, and how that system changes over time (Verspoor, de Bot, & Lowie, 2011). Responding to de Bot and Larsen-Freeman's (2011) claim that currently little explicit discussion is taking place to evaluate the applicability of different theories of second language development, competing claims can be compared, tested, and falsified when researchers provide comprehensible descriptions of the measurement procedures and develop clear operationalizations of what constitutes language development. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the predictions of three perspectives--descriptive, usage-based, and developmental sequence--in terms of their ability to account for L2 learners' syntactic development. A set of hypotheses was formulated to test the predictions put forward by each perspective. The study employed a longitudinal design to chart participants' use of questions over a period of 18 weeks. The participants included 20 Russian EFL learners who were enrolled in English for Specific Purposes courses at a large public university in Western Siberia. The data were collected during seven bi-weekly observation sessions, during which the participants met individually with the researcher and carried out a series of communicative activities. All interactions which occurred during sessions were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed. The data were analyzed separately for each perspective. Results indicated that the descriptive perspective provided the most parsimonious explanation for participants' question development. Specifically, the study demonstrated that participants' use of questions could be operationalized in terms of patterns of co-occurring linguistic features (e.g., subject, operator, main verb). Participants in the two proficiency groups were found to differ in terms of their production of questions associated with certain patterns. Furthermore, participants' production of specific patterns differed over time. Regarding the explanatory adequacy of the other two perspectives examined in the study, the developmental sequence perspective was ranked second, followed by the usage-based perspective. The importance of the study is in its methodological orientation. Specifically, the study not only explored the applicability of three perspectives to describe L2 learner development, but also provided important methodological implications, contributing to the subject of operationalizing and measuring language development in L2 learners. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Russia