The role of frequency in language acquisition has been a controversial issue for a long time. In usage-based theories, frequency of input is claimed to be a very influential factor in the process of language acquisition. However, there has been relatively little research on frequency effects (especially in L2 acquisition) considering the pervasive role it is claimed to have in language learning. Therefore, the present study was conducted to further investigate and understand the nature of such effects.
This study’s sample consisted of 18 English native speakers (as a baseline group) along with 41 ESL learners. The ESL learners were further divided into 2 proficiency groups. The infinitive–gerund complement constructions were chosen as the linguistic structure under focus which, because of their lexical specificity and non-salient semantic differences, are considered difficult to master by ESL learners. Based on different frequency criteria, 10 verbs that license infinitive and gerund structures were selected to compose 20 stimulus sentences which were read in a word-by-word self-paced reading grammaticality judgment task. Accuracy results and reading times (RTs) for the complement constructions were measured and analyzed.
The results showed that higher construction frequency (i.e., infinitive) made it easier for ESL learners to acquire. In addition, lexical frequency effects were more apparent in the learner groups. It was also found that real time processing was sensitive to grammaticality across the 3 groups and that the less proficient the group, the more sensitive it was to frequency.
|Commitee:||Abbuhl, Rebekha, Hall, Nancy|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 55/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Linguistics, English as a Second Language|
|Keywords:||Frequency, Gerund, Infinitive, Input-based, Sla, Usage-based|
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