Second Language Acquisition of Korean Case by Learners with Different First Languages
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This dissertation examines the role of L2 learners’ first language (L1) in acquiring a target morpho-syntactic feature (case) and learner perceptions of the L2 grammar, specifically, Korean case and case particles. In addition to investigating what and how much is transferred from the L1, the study also looks to see if learners’ perceptions match their actual production. In order to answer these research questions, two quantitative and one qualitative study were used. The initial quantitative study was conducted using an expanded grammaticality judgment task completed by 25 English L1 learners of Korean, with 15 Korean L1 controls. The Key findings from that studied suggest that English L1 learners of Korean acquired nominative case earlier than the accusative case, patterning with Korean L1 acquisition. Also, learners accurately identified the incorrect usage of nominative particles 60% of the time, but only 51% for accusative particles. Building on the findings of that study, speaking and written production tasks were completed by 70 L2 Korean learners, who were divided into nearly equally-sized groups for three different L1s (22 Chinese, 27 English and 21 Japanese). An assumption of the degree of L1 transfer to L2 Korean was made specifically for case, which was that Chinese transferred less than English and English less than Japanese. It was hypothesized that deep transfer—that being the transfer of syntax from the L1—and surface transfer, which is a transfer of morphology, could be investigated (Sabourin et al 2006). The results highlight that learners, regardless of their L1, used more correct case particles in writing than in speaking. The Japanese L1 group had the highest proficiency for case particles, with Chinese being the least proficient. The data confirmed that morphology was transferred ‘over syntax’ from the L1 and the surface transfer of morphology seems to play an important role (Montrul 1997, 1999, 2000; Sabourin et al 2006). Finally, to support and clarify the two quantitative studies a series, of qualitative interviews were conducted with 57 participants, and 9 key informants participated in multiple interviews. L2 learners were aware that their linguistic backgrounds affect feature transferability and the learnability of the target language. Already knowing perceived similar language was seen as beneficial. Kellerman’s Psychotypology (1983) was used to highlights learners’ perceptual language distance between their L1 and L2. In this study, Chinese learners still considered Korean relatively close to their L1, largely due to cultural associations and vocabulary, and that Korean was not difficult to acquire. Learner’s perceptions of ease were not supported by the actual production data. Different motivations also did not seem to be a main factor of the acquisition of case. Therefore, with the findings, it is argued that the role of L1 in terms of the same morphosyntaictic features in both L1 and L2 is tremendous, and that psychotypology and motivation seem to be overridden by the features.
- Linguistics