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Grammar Growth in Child Second Language German

Investigating DP Development in an Immersion Setting


Christiane Schöneberger

This empirical study investigates the acquisition and development of nominal morphology in L1-English-speaking children acquiring German as a second language in an immersion school context. The focus is on accuracy development in the emerging German article system. Embracing theoretical and applied aspects of second language acquisition research, the study brings together educational, cognitive and psycholinguistic dimensions of second language learning and teaching. Results have implications for curriculum design and quality development in language immersion and content and language integrated learning.
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2 Functional features in language acquisition: The state of the art


2.1 Introduction

Second language learners frequently show persistent difficulties in the mastery of the L2 grammar, even at advanced stages of the language acquisition process. Such findings have triggered much interest in the acquisition of L2 grammars. Researchers have examined how L2 grammars develop and what issues are particularly troublesome for learners. They have also investigated why that is the case and how such learning problems can be theoretically explained.

The present chapter sets out to delimit the theoretical framework for an investigation of the development of nominal functional features in child L2 German. First, a review of the literature on recent empirical research concerned with the acquisition of functional features in L2 grammars will be presented. Second language acquisition research has suggested a number of explanatory approaches for the acquisition of such features over the past two decades (see Liceras et al. 2008; White 2003, among others). Selected accounts such as the Missing Surface Inflection Hypothesis (Prévost & White 2000a, b; Prévost 2008), feature-form mapping (Beard 1995; Lardiere 1998b, 2000, 2007, 2008, among others), and the interface approach (Lardiere 2011; Sorace & Filiaci 2006; Sorace 2011; Tsimpli 2011; White 2009, 2011a, 2011b) will be considered with regard to their potential explanatory merit for the developmental patterns found in the acquisition of child L2 German. Findings from studies in first language acquisition of German will be briefly revisited in order to be able to differentiate general acquisitional patterns in the development of...

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