Differentiating L1 and L2 Acquisition through a Case Study of Speakers of Chinese and Spanish

By Hsiao-Ping Hu Biehl.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

To fully understand the process of second language acquisition (SLA) is not an easy feat. Many linguists and educators would agree that whatever research is available on SLA is insufficient in aiding the comprehension of this cognitive process. This may be in part due to its short research history. The purpose of this paper is to explore and understand the processes of L1 and L2 acquisition through the analysis of data obtained from two generation speakers of Chinese and Spanish. In order to achieve the goal of this study, I took a closer look at L1 transfer, strategies of L2 learning and communication, and overgeneralization of the target language patterns. In addition to utilizing theories such as Second Language Acquisition by Stephen Krashen and Interlanguage by Larry Selinker, thoughts regarding L1 and L2 acquisition by Vivian Cook, the role of language transfer by Susan Gass, and access to universal grammar by Lydia White were also taken into account. In the summer of 2008, as part of an ongoing research project in Ecuador, seven Chinese speakers of Spanish, ages 8-40 were interviewed to analyze their target language use. In addition to the interview, the participants were asked to watch a short silent, animated film called The Birds by Pixar. After watching the film, each participant was asked to provide a summary narration of what they had viewed without receiving any further instructions. The stories told by each individual provide an insight into their emerging linguistic system, and more importantly, they show the different stages of target language development due to the participants’ diverse ages.

Keywords: Second Language Acquisition, Interlanguage, Fossilization, Universal Grammar, Language Transfer, L2 Prociency, Language Competence

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 9, pp.193-210. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 839.446KB).

Dr. Hsiao-Ping Hu Biehl

Assistant Professor, Foreign Languages and Literatures, La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

I received my PhD from Temple University. My research interests are on languages in contact, second language acquisition and the use of technology in foreign language classrooms. My research work has been done in Ecuador. I work with Chinese speakers of Spanish and my primary interest is on their second language acquisition process, language loss and their cultural adaptation.

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