Chapter published in:Teachability and Learnability across Languages
Edited by Ragnar Arntzen, Gisela Håkansson, Arnstein Hjelde and Jörg-U. Keßler
[Processability Approaches to Language Acquisition Research & Teaching 6] 2019
► pp. 27–49
Chapter 2How much English do children know before they are exposed to instruction?
Applying Processability Theory to receptive grammar
This study investigates how much English Swedish-speaking children are able to extract from media prior to the instruction of English that takes place in school. The participants are 41 Swedish-speaking, 7 to 8-year-old children in grades 1 and 2. Their receptive knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary is tested using two picture-pointing tasks. For grammar, the ELIAS Grammar test is used (Kersten et al. 2010). Three morphological structures (plural -s, possessive -s and 3rd person singular -s) are targeted and analysed through the lens of Processability Theory (PT; Pienemann 1998, 2015). For vocabulary, the BVPS is used (Dunn et al. 1997). The results on grammar confirm the processability hierarchy predicted in PT, with a few exceptions. The remarks from the children reveal that they are able to discuss the linguistic forms and also give declarative rules. No signs of transfer from the L1 are found in the comprehension of morphology. However, the results on vocabulary indicate that the children use transfer. They rely on cognates and also on L1 phonology when trying to guess the meaning of the L2 words.
- 2.Grammatical development: PT
- 2.1PT and transfer
- 3.Vocabulary acquisition
- 4.The present study
- 4.1Aim and research questions
- 4.2Method and materials
- 4.2.1The ELIAS grammar test
- 4.2.2The BPVS vocabulary test
- 4.3Data collection procedure and analyses
- 5.1Mean scores
- 5.1.1Scores on the grammar test – compared with the preschool children’s ELIAS scores
- 5.1.2Scores on the BPVS II vocabulary test
- 5.2Grammar – did the children follow the PT stages?
- 5.1Mean scores
- 6.How do Swedish children react when asked to perform a test on English? Are they “fearless”?
- 6.1Metalinguistic comments
- 6.2Chunk use
- 6.3“Listening in Swedish”
Published online: 06 June 2019
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