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LINGUIST List 19.560

Mon Feb 18 2008

Diss: Applied Ling: Wust: 'The Oral Comprehension of Clitics by L2 ...'

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        1.    Valerie Wust, The Oral Comprehension of Clitics by L2 Learners of French

Message 1: The Oral Comprehension of Clitics by L2 Learners of French
Date: 18-Feb-2008
From: Valerie Wust <vawustsocial.chass.ncsu.edu>
Subject: The Oral Comprehension of Clitics by L2 Learners of French
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Institution: University of Alberta
Program: Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Valerie Ann Wust

Dissertation Title: The Oral Comprehension of Clitics by L2 Learners of French

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics

Subject Language(s): French (fra)

Dissertation Director(s):
Johanne Paradis
Leila Ranta
Jennie Dailey-O'Cain

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation presents empirical data from a classroom-based study designed
to investigate the extent to which second language (L2) learners of French are
able to process and reproduce clitics during listening comprehension tasks. The
learners were post-secondary students registered in a first-year,
intermediate-level French language course in Canada.

This dissertation is comprised of three papers. The first paper addresses how
the French pronominal system is acquired by monolingual, bilingual,
specifically-language impaired, and L2 learners. In this paper, I present the
similarities and differences in how learners from varied backgrounds acquire
pronominalization, identifying both universal difficulties and those that
pertain only to specific learner populations.

The second paper reports on a quantitative examination of university-level L2
French learners' ability to process and replicate the meaning of object clitics
on a L2-L1 translation. Performance varied according to the inherent
characteristics of object clitics (i.e., grammatical function, gender and
animacy), L2 proficiency level, and total amount of exposure to French.

The study described in the third paper made use of a dictogloss task to
determine whether an observed paucity of object clitics in L2 production means
that these forms go unnoticed in the input. Data from the reconstructed texts
was analyzed for the presence or absence of verbs which acted as 'triggers' for
the clitics y and en in the original text. A qualitative analysis of the data
revealed interlanguage forms that were in competition in obligatory
pronominalization contexts in addition to specific auditory perception
difficulties. Deleted objects, strong (i.e. free-standing) pronouns, and lexical
noun phrases were used with greater frequency than object clitics and students'
primary source of nontargetlike form usage was attributable to argument
structure/case assignment.

Based on the research findings it is suggested that teachers might do well to
explore interpretation-based instruction (Ellis, 1995) as a means of focusing
students' attention on object clitics in the input and sensitizing students to
their phonological form in order to help these learners comprehend and acquire

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