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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 5 Results



This chapter reports the results of the three tasks administered to the experimental groups consisting of 243 Cantonese ESL learners in Hong Kong: a Grammaticality Judgment Task, a Production Task and an Acceptability Judgment Task. The grammaticality judgment task and the acceptability judgment task were used to explore L2 learners’ knowledge about copula and auxiliary be respectively while the production task aimed to elicit the subjects’ production of copula and auxiliary be, supplementing the data obtained from the two other tasks.

5.2Grammaticality Judgment Task

The Grammaticality Judgment Task consisted of 41 sentences requiring the subjects to show the extent of their agreement and disagreement that sentences are possible or impossible in English. This section reports the mean ratings for different sentences across different proficiency groups, with 1 indicating strongly disagree and 5 strongly agree. Tables 5–9 show the mean ratings for different types of sentences across different proficiency groups (i.e. beginner, elementary, lower intermediate, upper intermediate, advanced, very advanced and control) in the grammaticality judgment task, along with the standard deviation. As there were only 2 very advanced learners in the study, the data obtained from them were not statistically meaningful though important for reference. Post-hoc test results showing where the significant differences lie among the proficiency groups were obtained by the Tukey procedure. ← 97 | 98 →

5.2.1Counterparts of be in Cantonese

Cantonese haih shares the equivalence and property meanings rendered by the English be. Both sentence...

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