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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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9 Discourse markers, interlanguage level and social integration: The immigrant learners in the Naples area (Patrizia Giuliano / Rosa Russo / Simona Anastasio)


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9 Discourse markers, interlanguage level and social integration: The immigrant learners in the Naples area1


In the present work, we analyse the types and functions of discourse markers in the dialogic and narrative speech of immigrant learners in the area of Naples (Southern Italy). The informants have different interlanguage levels and source languages and mostly learned Italian in a natural environment. In agreement with their different levels and types of acquisition (natural and/or tutored), we aim at identifying the different levels that our learners reached in the use of discourse markers.

The interviews that we conducted were semi-structured in the sense that the Italian interviewers prepared a battery of questions and narrative topics, but the interviewees were not previously informed about them. We also interviewed a group of native Italian speakers (reference group) using this same modality.

In our theoretical framework, discourse markers are seen as crucial for the construction of coherence and the processing of textual information in spontaneous communication. So, a socially well-integrated ← 227 | 228 → individual will have learned to manage and use discourse markers in his daily communication.

With respect to the classification that we adopted for discourse markers, which divides them into interaction markers and meta-textual markers, we shall demonstrate that the latter ones are particularly frequent in the interviews of advanced learners with plans to stay in Italy long term but less...

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