Are second language learners just as good at verb morphology as first language learners?
Is part ofBUCLD 39 Proceedings Supplement
Publisher(s)Boston University Conference on Language Development
We addressed whether children learning French as a first (L1) and multilingual children (MUL, for whom French is a second or third language) are sensitive to sub-regular verb conjugation patterns (i.e., neither default, nor idiosyncratic) (e.g., Albright, 2002; Clahsen, 1999). Some argue that children with other first languages have more difficulty learning verb conjugation patterns due to their lesser exposure to the language (e.g., Nicoladis, Palmer, & Marentette, 2007). We hypothesized that older children would perform better than younger children and that L1 and MUL children learning French would process verb inflection patterns differently based on their default status (-er verbs), and reliability (e.g., sub-regular -ir verbs), with MUL children showing weaknesses in non-default types (Royle, Beritognolo, & Bergeron, 2012). We elicited verbs in 169 children (aged 67 to 92 months) attending preschool (n = 105) or first grade (n = 64), who were L1 or MUL learners of Québec French, using 24 verbs with regular, sub-regular, and irregular participle forms (6 of each, ending in /e/, /i/, /y/ or IDiosyncratic) in the passé composé (perfect past). Using our Android application Jeu de verbes, verbs were presented with images (see Figure 1) to each child in an infinitival form (infinitival complements or the periphrastic future, e.g., Marie va cacher ses poupées ‘Mary will hide her dolls’) and present tense contexts (e.g., Marie cache toujours ses poupées ‘Mary always hides her dolls’). Children were prompted to produce the passé composé by answering the question ‘What did she do yesterday, Marie?’. Preliminary analyses (n = 94, 70 in preschool, 31 L1 and 39 MUL; 24 in first grade, 13 L1 and 11 MUL) reveal a Verb conjugation group effect, F(3, 88) = 52.31, p < .001 as well as a Verb conjugation group*Language group*Age group interaction, F(3, 88) = 3.35, p < .05. Moreover, trends toward significant effects were found for Age group, F(1, 90) = 3.07, p = .08, and for the interaction of factors Verb conjugation group*Language group, F(3, 88) = 2.36, p = .08. These results indicate that responses to verb conjugation groups differ according to verb conjugation, age and language group (see Figure 1). Overall, children’s responses to verb conjugation groups highlight morphological productivity and reliability effects on mastery of French conjugation. Results also show higher target productions in the first grade than in preschool and varying response patterns depending on language background. In depth analyses comparing all 169 children including language group analyses (L1 vs MUL) will further inform us on children’s mastery of French passé composé, while non-parametric analyses on frequency of response types should reveal a clearer picture of children’s response strategies by verb or language group. These data will show that MUL children who have lesser exposure to oral French language, rapidly master verb conjugation patterns to the same level as L1 children (and might even do better) in immersive (school) contexts.
Marquis, A., et P. Royle (2015). Are Second Language Learners Just as Good at Verb Morphology as First Language Learners? Article tiré des BUCLD 39 Online Proceedings Supplement, 12 p.