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Grammar Growth in Child Second Language German

Investigating DP Development in an Immersion Setting

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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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6 Conclusion

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The present study set out to contribute to two related fields of research: theory development in second language acquisition research and quality management in second language learning. Concerning the first area, the investigation speaks to the second language acquisition of nominal functional grammar and its related realization in surface morphology. Assuming a dissociation between structural features and morphological forms, it has been argued that L2A of nominal syntax requires a process of restructuring on the basis of the L1 and the available input. This restructuring resides mostly in the re-assignment of morphological features and forms. Various theoretical proposals have been presented that seek to explain persistent variability in L2 grammar. These proposals include considerations of feature-form mapping, missing surface inflection accounts and interface accounts. Widening the scope to cognitive perspectives that have explanatory potential for variability in L2 acquisition and production, aspects of learner age, input quality and task effects have been included in the investigation. The explanatory accounts from generative L2A research and cognitive aspects of language production combine to provide the theoretical framework for the present study.

Pursuing the question how development of L2 nominal grammar proceeds in immersion learners, results reveal that learners’ performance is globally characterized by individual variation and morphological variability. Furthermore, the acquisition and production of L2 morphology is influenced by L1 transfer, task effects and conditions of the learning context, as the study could show. It has been shown that immersion learning cannot be equated with naturalistic L2 acquisition...

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