AbstractThe article presents and analyses research data gathered in a German secondary school with early learners of English. Research on L2 development needs a clear and precise documentation of learner responses over a longer period of time. Accompanying learners in longitudinal settings helps to outline major processes in foreign language acquisition. Moreover, it provides a profound understanding of how learners’ IL systems develop. The underlying hypotheses are that (a) IL systems are constantly being restructured, (b) learner responses feature diverse variants indicating their attempts to figure out the target-like rule, and (c) the degree of variability reflects the learners’ difficulties with incorporating the target-like structures. The study’s focus was on the acquisition of three linguistic phenomena (the copula BE, negation and preterite formation) in a classroom setting. For each area, several questionnaires were developed, the responses were analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively, the IL development for the structure in question was determined and potential error sources were identified. The results of the study show what learners struggle with in the course of acquisition. Knowledge about probable difficulties does not only yield insights into the learners’ acquisition process, it can also improve current teaching materials, enable adequate interventions and provide the learners with appropriate tasks for practicing their language skills. The results of the study indicate that incorporating linguistic findings into the compilation process of textbooks proves constructive for second language teaching.
Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association (to be published December 2013) – de Gruyter
Published: Nov 1, 2016
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