Learning English as a second language during childhood: A longitudinal case study

Cooze, Alysha (2020) Learning English as a second language during childhood: A longitudinal case study. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Since the 1950s, hypotheses have been put forth to explain developmental behaviours observed during a learner’s second language (L2) acquisition. Many of these hypotheses build on language transfer, which provides a basis for the explanation of many phenomena that learners exhibit during the acquisition of their L2. However, aspects of transfer have yet to be fully understood; among others, how the critical period for language acquisition affects the relationship between a learner’s first language (L1) and L2 has yet to be unfolded. Transfer effects and the critical period are indeed potentially confounded when the L2 learner is a child. Furthermore, three questions surrounding transfer still remain. These questions are as follows: What is transferred? What are the conditions for transfer? And when does transfer occur? Further, while it is commonly observed that children are more proficient than adults at language learning, debates still exist as to whether or not a critical period for language acquisition exists at all. In relation to this, there is also the debate concerning whether children introduced to an L2 early in life behave more like a first or second language learner for that L2. This thesis describes a longitudinal corpus documenting a child named Nura, who is a L2 learner of English with Kazakh as her L1 (also with some passive knowledge of Chinese). More specifically, we focus on Nura’s development of singleton onsets and onset clusters which do not occur in her native Kazakh language. The data provides evidence for relatively immediate transfer effects through her early acquisition of her singleton onsets and onset clusters. However, the developmental patterns of a number of sounds and sound combinations also point to issues in child L2 development in contexts where transfer is not possible, if only for certain phonological dimensions of the L2.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/14805
Item ID: 14805
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 88-93).
Keywords: Childhood, Language acquisition, Second language acquisition, Longitudinal, Transfer, Critical period
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: September 2020
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Second language acquisition; English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers; Children--Language

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