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The Advanced Learner Variety

The Case of French


Edited By Emmannuelle Labeau and Florence Myles

This volume originates from a workshop entitled ‘Revisiting advanced varieties in L2 learning’ organized by the editors at Aston University (Birmingham, UK) in June 2006. It consists of a peer-reviewed selection of the best contributions.
Many different approaches have been used in the study of advanced learners and their characteristics. Specific areas of language have repeatedly been found to remain problematic even at advanced levels, and much empirical research has been carried out. In particular, areas of grammar such as the tense or agreement systems often pose difficulties, as well as lexical idiosyncrasies such as formulaic sequences, and the discourse/pragmatic constraints operating in French. This volume brings together recent research exploring the advanced learner capabilities in each of those domains, as well as possible explanations for the difficulties they raise for the L2 learner of French. Additionally, one of the areas which has received considerable attention in the French L2 literature on advanced learners, tense and aspect, is also explored from the point of view of French learners of English, to explore any parallels. In presenting this research, the book clarifies the concept of the advanced learner: how does s/he differ from native speakers and why?


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Fanny Forsberg - Formulaic Sequences: A Distinctive Feature at the Advanced / Very Advanced Levels of Second Language Acquisition 173


FANNY FORSBERG Formulaic Sequences: A Distinctive Feature at the Advanced / Very Advanced Levels of Second Language Acquisition1 Background This chapter discusses the use of formulaic sequences as an important measure of second language proficiency, taking the case of advanced L2 French as an example. Since many researchers (Pawley & Syder 1983, Sinclair 1991, Erman & Warren 2000) claim that native language produc- tion in general is characterised by routines and prefabricated sequences, it seems necessary to investigate to what extent L2 learners acquire this phenomenon. As Schmitt & Carter (2004, p. 55) put it, ‘formulaic lan- guage has become one of the major issues in applied linguistics for the new millennium’. However, several issues are problematic within the field of formulaic language/sequences. First of all, the term does not refer to one single phe- nomenon. It has, on the one hand, been used by acquisitionists studying early learning, observing the use of unanalysed chunks (cf. Wong-Fillmore 1976, R. Ellis 1983, Myles et al. 1998, 1999) and their possible contribu- tion to the development of a creative rule-system. On the other hand, the term formulaic language/sequences is also used by researchers investigat- ing target language idiomaticity (i.e. collocations and idiomatic expres- sions), both how it develops in L2 acquisition and how it functions as an inherent component of language production (Yorio 1989, Granger 1998, 1 I would like to thank Britt Erman, Inge Bartning and the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on this chapter. Any remaining errors are my own. 174...

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