The impact of the absence of grammatical tense in L1 on the acquisition of the tense-aspect system in L2

Suying YANG, Yue Yuan Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many researchers have found that learners go through stages in acquiring the L2 tense system: from relying on pragmatic devices to using more lexical devices, and then to using more grammatical morphology. Chinese is a language that has no tense (a [-tense] language)2 and relies on pragmatic and lexical devices to indicate temporal locations. The present study investigates what impact a [-tense] L1 may have on the acquisition of the English tense system. We have found: (1) classroom instruction may force an early start of tense use; (2) the Chinese way of expressing temporality may reinforce the learners' initial tendencies of relying on pragmatic and lexical devices to indicate temporal locations; and (3) the early start of tense use and the L1 reinforcement of the learners' initial tendencies result in an extended period during which the learners' expression of temporality exhibits a very slow shift from depending more on pragmatic and lexical devices to depending more on grammatical devices. We have also found that the function of temporal adverbials may change from tense substitute to tense reminder as a result of special classroom training processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-70
Number of pages22
JournalIRAL - International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2004

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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