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Acquisition of «be» by Cantonese ESL Learners in Hong Kong- and its Pedagogical Implications

Mable Chan

The present study examines grammaticality judgment data, production data and acceptability judgment data from 243 Cantonese second language learners and a control group of 12 native English speakers. Research areas concern (a) the role of the first language in the acquisition of be by Cantonese second language learners; (b) the question if properties associated with be remain persistently problematic for Cantonese speakers; (c) developmental stages of the acquisition of be; (d) the relationship between morphology and syntax; and (e) pedagogical implications.
No published L2 research has attempted an in-depth theoretical and empirical treatment of both acquisition and teaching subject matters in one single work. This work helps bridge the gap between acquisition theory and language pedagogy research, benefitting not just language learners but language teachers around the world, and all those who would like to witness a collaboration between second language acquisition theory and second language teaching practice in general.
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Chapter 2 Linguistic Assumptions



Be has many different functions in English. According to the Collins Cobuild English Dictionary (1999), there are about 20 uses of be, both formal and informal. This chapter outlines a set of assumptions about the morphosyntactic representation and meaning of forms of be in English, and the form of equivalent constructions in Cantonese. By understanding the linguistic assumptions of the morphosyntactic representation of English be, we know what Cantonese speakers have to acquire when they acquire be in English. The properties of Cantonese be are also relevant to whether there is L1 transfer in the acquisition of be by Cantonese ESL learners.

2.2What is Be?

2.2.1Copula Be in English

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