Pen to Paper by Penelope Hodge

By Penelope Hodge

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From this point of view, one notes the whole range of pragmatic advantages that more advanced learners have. For example, Freed (1990) suggests that they are more likely to seek out contact with native speakers, whereas less advanced learners may shy away from such situations, because of the greater communicative difficulties they entail. That is to say, less proficient learners may be less well equipped, linguistically, to cope with communicative interaction than more advanced learners whose linguistic resources are better developed.

Her study, following on Guntermann (1992a, b), investigates the order of acquisition of ‘ser’ and ‘estar’, and ‘por’ and ‘para’ in Spanish by American Peace Corps volunteers. 9 A final study of such a question is provided by Howard (2001) in the case of his study of the acquisition of temporality by Irish study abroad and instructed learners of French. Based on a variationist analysis of a range of linguistic factors predicted to constrain the system of variation behind the learner’s use of past time markers, results of the study suggest that the factors investigated each have a similar influence on the variation characterising the learners’ use of past time markers, irrespective of their learning environment.

Within a more traditional study abroad framework, Howard (2005a) also focuses on the role of context in the acquisition of sociolinguistic variation, in this case in relation to variable liaison realisation in L2 French. Similar to one of the major findings in relation to the variables to be presented here, his results indicate a very clear effect for naturalistic contact during study abroad on the instructed learner’s acquisition of this variable, such that without such naturalistic contact, the instructed learner makes minimal use of this variable in his/her speech.

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