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Cognitive Insights into Discourse Markers and Second Language Acquisition

Edited By Iria Bello, Carolina Bernales, Maria Vittoria Calvi and Elena Landone

This volume employs a range of empirical methodologies – including eyetracking, direct observation, qualitative research and corpus analysis – to describe the use of discourse markers in second language acquisition. The variety of different approaches used by the contributors facilitates the observation of correlations between morphosyntactic, semantic and pragmatic features of discourse markers and enriches our understanding of the cognitive behaviour of L2 speakers, both in the understanding and production of texts. Some of the essays examine the acquisitional paths of discourse markers in instructional and natural contexts, with a particular focus on situations of language contact and social integration; others describe experimental studies that analyse the cognitive processing of discourse markers in L2 learners. All the contributions aim to offer new insights which will expand and develop existing theoretical claims about this area of study and open up avenues for further research.

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5 The discourse markers sí, claro and vale in Spanish as a Foreign Language (Christian Koch / Britta Thörle)


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5 The discourse markers sí, claro and vale in Spanish as a Foreign Language


One step in acquiring communicative competence in a foreign language (henceforth FL) includes that learners become able to actively take part in conversational interaction by organizing their own speech in accordance with the requirements of the communicative context and by contributing to the organization of turns and topics of the conversation. Although adult learners have already acquired a general discursive competence in their L1, they still lack the linguistic means that are necessary to completely deploy this competence in the FL. Our interest in the acquisition of Discourse Markers (henceforth DMs) in Spanish as a FL is due to the fact that DMs are very efficient means by which speakers contribute to the organization of speech and interaction. Unlike other pragmatic resources, DMs are often not systematically taught in classes of ELE (Español Lengua Extranjera [Spanish as a Foreign Language]) (which is also the case in EFL courses as discussed previously in Chapter 4 in this volume). In addition, the relation between forms and functions of DMs clearly differs from one language to another so that they cannot be easily transferred from L1 to FL. DMs can thus be considered a central part of communicative competence and a quite difficult one to acquire. With this in mind, the research aim of this chapter is to describe the formal and...

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