|Title:||Binding and Gapping in Second Language Acquisition: Evidence from a longitudinal study of Japanese learners of English||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Shizuko Ozaki||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||Ball State University, Linguistics and TESOL|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Syntax; Language Acquisition;|
|Abstract:||The aim of this dissertation was to examine how Japanese learners of English in the United States developed their interpretation of antecedents of reflexive pronouns and their understanding of the direction of verb gapping in English over time. The two properties in question operate differently in English and Japanese, and neither property is normally taught. Therefore, the acquisition of these properties of English by Japanese learners sheds light on the role of Universal Grammar (UG) in second language acquisition (SLA).
Fourteen Japanese learners answered three questionnaires, each containing a test assessing reflexives (the Binding Test) and a test assessing verb gapping (the Gapping Test) at three different times, approximately 12 weeks apart from each other. In addition, three groups of 20 native speakers of English provided their results on the same questionnaires.
The overall performance of the learners on the Binding Test started out significantly inferior to that of native speakers, and it did not reach the level of native speakers in later sessions. In contrast, the overall performance of the learners on the Gapping Test started out as good as that of native speakers, and it maintained the same level relative to the native performance in later sessions. Furthermore, the overall performance of the learners in later sessions was not significantly better than that in earlier sessions. These findings seem to suggest that increased time spent in an English-speaking environment did not have any effects on the learners’ acquisition of the two properties. However, when performance by subset was considered, significant improvement was observed.
Examination of individual patterns of responses revealed that the learners showed the patterns consistent to English, Japanese, and even other languages and that some of the learners who previously showed a pattern other than the English pattern successfully demonstrated the English pattern in later sessions. These findings constitute evidence for the view that parameter-resetting is possible in SLA.
The dissertation also includes discussion of the test instrument and explanation of the data in the light of recent theoretical predictions. The concluding chapter offers pedagogical implications as well as suggestions for future UG-based SLA research.