The Impact of the Absence of Grammatical Tense in L1 on the Acquisition of the Tense-Aspect System in L2

  • Yang S
  • Huang Y
  • 29


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Many researchers have found that learners go through stages in acquiring the L2 tense system: from relying on pragmatic devices to using more lexical devices, & then to using more grammatical morphology. Chinese is a language that has no tense (a [-tense] language) & relies on pragmatic & lexical devices to indicate temporal locations. The present study investigates what impact a [-tense] L1 may have on the acquisition of the English tense system. We have found that (1) classroom instruction may force an early start of tense use; (2) the Chinese way of expressing temporality may reinforce the learners' initial tendencies of relying on pragmatic & lexical devices to indicate temporal locations; & (3) the early start of tense use & the L1 reinforcement of the learners' initial tendencies result in an extended period during which the learners' expression of temporality exhibits a very slow shift from depending more on pragmatic & lexical devices to depending more on grammatical devices. We have also found that the function of temporal adverbials may change from tense substitute to tense reminder as a result of special classroom training processes. 4 Tables, 51 References. Adapted from the source document

Author-supplied keywords

  • *Adverbs (00650)
  • *Chinese (12100)
  • *English as a Second Language Learning (22130)
  • *Learning Processes (45950)
  • *Pragmatics (66850)
  • *Space (81600)
  • *Tense (88500)
  • *Time (89850)
  • 4132: applied linguistics; English as a second/for
  • article

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  • Suying Yang

  • Yue Yuan Huang

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