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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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Pascale Leclercq - The Influence of L1 French on Near-Native French Learners of English: The Case of Simultaneity 269


PASCALE LECLERCQ The Influence of L1 French on Near-Native French Learners of English: The Case of Simultaneity This study on ultimate attainment seeks to discover what kind of linguistic knowledge advanced L2 learners lack to reach the level of native speaker competence. Indeed we notice that L2 verbal pro duc tion by near-native French speakers of English often maintains some sort of foreign trace. We postulate that this is due to the fact that grammatical encoding influ- ences the speaker of a given language at the conceptual level with regard to the selection of information needed to prepare verbalisation (Levelt 1989, Slobin 2003, von Stutterheim 2003). In the current study, we focus on the role of the grammatical concept of ongoingness. This concept is relevant for a contrastive study of French and English because English provides morphological marking of ongoingness (V-ing forms), whereas French relies on lexical means (‘en train de’) to express this concept. Our aim is to analyse and compare the productions of French and English native speakers with those of near-native French learners of English as regards the expression of simultaneity. We want to evaluate the capacity of learners to perform like natives. In a pilot study, we focused on the expression of ongoingness in a film-retelling task based on a stimulus of video clips specially designed to trigger the use of ongoingness (see von Stutterheim 2003). The results of this study indicate that explicit use of ongoingness (‘en train de’, V-ing) frequently appears in the accounts...

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