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Multilingualism seminar

Double-marking aspectual structures in L2 Chinese/Strategies for Attitudinal Change Towards FLL

16 February 2017, 13:00 – 14:30

Faculty of English, University of Cambridge

Classroom Intervention Strategies for Attitudinal Change Towards Foreign Language Learning by Angela Gayton

This presentation explores the value of classroom intervention methodologies for effecting attitudinal change in the domain of foreign language learning in the UK. This is set against the backdrop of discourses of  “decline” surrounding foreign language learning in Anglophone contexts, and the body of research that seeks to critically reflect on this, and indeed propose solutions (e.g. Lanvers and Coleman, 2013; Oakes, 2013).

In focus is a recent project entitled ‘Speak Global’ (Lanvers, Hultgren and Gayton, 2016), which is a classroom intervention aimed at late-primary/early secondary pupils in England and Scotland, on the subject of multilingualism. Evaluation of its efficacy engaged with the capacity for change of pupils’ attitudes towards 1. valuing multilingualism 2. cognitive effects of multilingualism and 3. language learning as a school subject. Pre- and post-intervention questionnaires indicated significant change in 1. and 2., but not 3.

Taking into account the extent of the impact of ‘Speak Global’, concluding remarks are made on taking steps towards establishing and evaluating classroom intervention practices in the domain of multilingual identity, as a possible route towards effecting further attitudinal change towards language learning. Future research in this vein would enable exploration of the extent to which encouraging young people to problematize and explore their own multilingual identities has potential for further enhancing language learning motivation and achievement.


Double-marking aspectual structures in English speakers’ L2 Chinese by Yanyu Guo

Unlike English, Chinese allows double-marking aspect phrases, which can be divided into three types: the one-action double-marking perfective structure (PER-1 for short), the one-action double-marking imperfective structure (IMPER-1), and the two-action double-marking imperfective structure (IMPER-2). Within the Minimalist framework (Chomsky, 1995), this study adopts the fundamentals of the double-AspP analysis of aspectual projections and argues that the derivation process of the double-marking perfective structure is more complex than those of the double-marking imperfective structures based on the Derivational Complexity Metric (Jakubowicz, 2005).

An Elicited Imitation Task (EIT) and an Acceptability Judgement Task (AJT) were designed to investigate the L2 acquisition of the three types of double-marking aspectual structure. Twenty-one beginners, 23 intermediate learners, 21 advanced learners and 25 Chinese native speakers took the two tasks. An acquisition sequence was observed in both the EIT and AJT results: IMPER-2 > IMPER-1 > PER-1, with the left emerging earlier than the right. The L2 learners at all three proficiency levels behaved in the most native-like way on IMPER-2, which is attributable to L1 influence. More importantly, both the AJT and EIT results show that the three groups of L2 learners did better on the double-marking imperfective structures (IMPER-1 and IMPER-2) than on the double-marking perfective structure (PER-1). This result has confirmed the Derivational Complexity Hypothesis (Jakubowicz, 2011) that less complex derivations are acquired earlier than more complex ones, given that the derivation of PER-1 is more complex than those of IMPER-1 and IMPER-2. Furthermore, the learners behaved in a more native-like way in the AJT than in the EIT. The L2 learners showed sensitivity to the target double-marking structures but encountered difficulty in producing morphemes when performing repetition, even at the advanced stage, which suggests that their syntactic knowledge came before accurate production of functional morphology.

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Angela Gayton and Yanyu Guo, MEITS Postdoctoral Research Associates

13:00 - 14:30


Room GR04, Faculty of English, 9 West Rd, Cambridge, CB3 9DP

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