First and second language development from a UG perspective

Source: OAI
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    ABSTRACT: Research in second language acquisition has paid little attention to preliterate children learning a language which is absent from their environment outside the language class. This study examines the acquisition of English words by 24 French-speaking children aged 35-59 months, who were introduced to 57 words, embedded in stories and songs. Four stories and four songs were randomly spread across four consecutive weekly workshops consisting of play-based pedagogical activities. The impact of the input source, number of encounters with each lexical item, animacy as a feature of the lexical items, and first language (L1) lexicon size was examined. Recall of target words was assessed through the selection between four images after hearing the word, and L1 lexicon was assessed through the Peabody test. Results show significantly higher recall for animate concepts, while no difference in recall was found in relation to input source (words in songs vs. stories) or L1 lexicon size. Results also stress the need for a possibly higher number of encounters than that normally found for adults in order to achieve significant recall.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
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    ABSTRACT: Usage-based (UB) accounts conceive of language learning as continuous, locally-contingent construction learning, i.e. a life-long process of developing and honing the repertoire of constructional patterns geared to the optimization of a language user’s communicative ability across a wide range of language domains. The continuous nature of the process entails that a full UB model needs to account for not only the dynamics of language learning at early stages of acquisition, but also the functionally motivated adaptations of the language system at more advanced levels of proficiency. We present a design based on naturalistic second language (L2) written productions that sets out to reconstruct the states of constructional knowledge of advanced L2 learners through the statistical analysis of their productions. Irrespective of theoretical framing, the study provides foundational data relevant for any property theory of language learning), i.e. any theory that is concerned with the nature of the language system to be acquired, which logically precedes a transition theory of the developmental processes of L2 acquisition.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Language and Cognition