|dc.description.abstract||A study of the acquisition of features of English syntax by adolescent
immigrants to Australia is undertaken with the purpose of contributing
to our understanding of factors which may influence the second language
acquisition process. The main aims are to investigate:
(1) the presence of systematicity underlying the learners'
often variable realisation of features of second language
syntax, and the environments and forms which may constrain
any such systematicity.
(2) the interrelatedness of the learning of discrete areas of
(3) the effect of the learners' native language on any patterns
which are found to underlie their use of features.
(4) the relationship of cross-sectionally and longitudinally ,
determined stages of development.
Aspects of four areas of syntax, copula, predicate complementation,
negation and articles, in a number of syntactic environments, are
investigated. Implicational Analysis techniques are employed to enable
the analysis of variable data. Using two elicitation procedures, a
sentence correction task and a modified cloze task, data is collected
from learners on four separate occasions at two-monthly intervals.
Seventy seven adolescent learners of English from four native language
groups, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Vietnamese, participate in
the study. All are attending Melbourne High Schools and have been in
Australia less than two and a half years at Time 1.
The analysis reveals that for all groups, when sufficient data is
available, the environments and forms hypothesised to constrain the
learners' variable realisation of features do so. Variable rules and
continua of development are able to be formulated, which describe
the system's the groups of learners are using. Similarly, the analysis
shows that an interrelationship exists between the learning or
features from the four structural areas. This interrelationship is
found to be particularly strong among features relating to the same
main sentence constituent, either NP or VP. The patterns obtained
in the learners from the four native language groups are found to
share certain common properties. However, important differences are
also apparent, especially at the level of the environmental constraints
on the realisation of features. The concept of language distance is
invoked to account for the degree of similarity and difference in
the patterns in the four groups. In addition, the patterns determined
cross-sectionally for each group are found to be accurate predictors
of the longitudinal developmental patterns evident in individual
learners over time.
As a result of the findings some refinements of the Interlanguage
Developmental Continuum model of second language acquisition are
suggested and some implications of the findings for our understanding
of the role of the native language in influencing second language
patterns of development are discussed.||en