WHAT NON-NATIVE NARRATIVES CAN TELL US ABOUT SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

NADINE O'CONNOR, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Second language acquisition research has shown the importance of viewing learner language as a legitimate linguistic system. However, the ways in which this system functions and changes as it evolves towards the target language system have yet to be discovered. This dissertation examines the interlanguage system of 20 Americans learning to speak French in France through a variation analysis of their use of tense in narratives. The selection of narrative as the discourse unit of study has permitted a comparison of tense use in various structural contexts and rhetorical functions across the non-native population. The relative contribution of these structural and rhetorical factors to the uses of the present, imparfait, passe compose and infinitive was identified for the non-native speakers at different stages of interlanguage development. In order to evaluate target language input to these language learners, native speaker use of these tenses was also examined and compared to the non-native tense use. Based on these distributions of tense use, four levels of interlanguage proficiency were identified. In general, it was found that early interlanguage use of the present tense was influenced by both structural constraints and by certain rhetorical constraints. The influence of structural constraints on tense use was seem to decrease as interlanguage proficiency increased, and use of the present and imparfait was shown to progressively rise in specific narrative functions, which was also mirrored in native speaker colloquial tense use. The sociopsychological profiles of the non-native speakers were examined in light of their proficiency levels as determined by tense use as well as by their rating on a global, oral proficiency test (ACTFL). Possible correlations between interlanguage levels of proficiency and the sociopsychological profiles of the speakers were discussed, and pedagogical implications of these results suggested. ^

Subject Area

Linguistics

Recommended Citation

O'CONNOR, NADINE, "WHAT NON-NATIVE NARRATIVES CAN TELL US ABOUT SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION" (1987). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8714104.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8714104

Share

COinS