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The development of grammatical morphemes in the speech of young second language learners within a conversational context

By Caroline H Barrett-Pugh


This is a longitudinal study of the development of grammatical morphemes in the speech of young children using English as a second language in a classroom context. The theoretical standpoint adopted is that first and second language development in 'natural' contexts is\ud facilitated by the same underlying processes, and that central to this development is the notion of meaningful interaction, through which conversational partners negotiate shared understanding. It is argued\ud that if the interactional features identified as facilitative in first language development are reproduced within the classroom context, the sequence of development identified in this study will reflect the sequence identified in first language learning.\ud \ud The data was collected over a period of six terms and initial analysis reveals similarities between the process of morphemic development in first and classroom second language learning. As a result of these findings, the analysis is then extended to take account of the conversational context in which development occurs. Particular reference is made to repetition and formulaic speech which the learners appear to use as a means of producing verb morphemes within the context of interrogatives and negation. The methodological significance of the identification and interpretation of strategies within an interactional framework is discussed.\ud \ud Analysis reveals that in addition to the general processes\ud identified, which account for a shared sequence of development in first and second language development, there are individual differences. These differences are related to the learners' mother tongue, the classroom context and the use of particular strategies. Each one is explored in relation to the management of conversational interaction\ud and underlying grammatical development. The incomplete acquisition of grammatical morphemes by the end of the study is seen as significant and the study concludes by suggesting that this has important implications for the nature of interaction in a classroom context

Publisher: School of Education (Leeds)
Year: 1990
OAI identifier:

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