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CONTRIBUTION OF THE INSTITUTES TO MY RESEARCH ON HL AND L2 LEARNERS OF RUSSIAN Anna Mikhaylova Seventh Heritage Language Research Institute 2013 1.

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Presentation on theme: "CONTRIBUTION OF THE INSTITUTES TO MY RESEARCH ON HL AND L2 LEARNERS OF RUSSIAN Anna Mikhaylova Seventh Heritage Language Research Institute 2013 1."— Presentation transcript:


2 Outline 2  Background  Main takeaways from the institutes  A few details of my dissertation study (which I omitted in the talk)

3 Background 3  I have attended and presented at several HL Research institutes.  I first attended as a Linguistics PhD student with specialization in second language acquisition and an interest in broader bilingualism (working out my dissertation proposal).  I had become interested in heritage language acquisition a few years before as I was reading some of Masha Polinsky’s and Silvina Montrul’s work.  However, nobody else in my program focused on early bilingualism or heritage language maintenance.  I was not sure if my ideas about my research design based on my SLA background were appropriate for the heritage speakers  I saw the first Institute as an opportunity to join a professional forum which would provide intellectual support for my research interest  And I got that and much, much more over time

4 Takeaways from the Institutes over the years: 4 On the general professional level:  A refined definition of the HL studies as a field  A refined understanding of the range of research methodologies applicable to HL speakers  A greater understanding of the sociolinguistic and cognitive dimensions of HL development  The pedagogical perspective on maintenance of HL  State of the art research directions and findings  Great forum for exchange of ideas and fostering collaboration

5 Takeaways from the Institutes over the years: 5  During the dissertation design:  I validated my experimental approach to studying HL and L2 acquisition of Russian aspect  I gained additional theoretical insights and broadened my literature review  I refined my methodology  I met colleagues and potential collaborators  After data collection:  I presented various stages of my data analysis at three institutes  I got great feedback from institute participants and faculty  I met new colleagues and potential collaborators  After the defense:  I met more new colleagues and potential collaborators  I developed a new study based on the insights of the institutes  I met more new colleagues and potential collaborators

6 Takeaways from the Institutes over the years: 6 Important themes that have enhanced my view of the HL research:  There are important overlaps in HL and L2 grammars  since both are weaker in the target language  since both have problems with functional morphology  since both have fragile language egos  There are important differences in HL and L2 grammars since L2 speakers are generally stronger in reading/writing and HL in listening/speaking  Just as in L2 acquisition, proficiency matters in HL development  The same phenomena must be addressed from different methodological angles (adding the processing dimension and looking for task effects)  We cannot really remove the sociolinguistic dimension from experimental studies  We still have A LOT to learn!

7 A few details of my dissertation study (which I omitted in the talk)  Why compare HL and L2 learners of Russian?  Both are dominant in English and Russian is the weaker language  Why Aspect?  Tense/Aspect/Mood is known to be difficult in L1, HL and L2 acquisition in various languages and in Russian  Knowledge of aspect presupposes different types of knowledge: semantic; syntactic; morphological; and discourse  It may show what is difficult to acquire in HL and L2 context and why… 7

8 POTENTIAL CHALLENGES FOR ACQUISITION OF RUSSIAN ASPECT:  There are important differences in the way English and Russian encode aspectual information. In Russian, there are differences in morphological complexity of lexical aspect marking and grammatical aspect marking; the morphological ‘imperfective’ has a greater range of interpretations, when not supported by disambiguating clues in the discourse, but can be more salient morphologically; the morphological ‘perfective’ is less salient morphologically, but is more straightforward semantically  So, there is potential for transfer and a significant computational task 8

9 I argue that  the source of difficulty for L2 and HL speakers can be attributed to a combination of:  complex morpho-semantic structure of the imperfective  transfer from English  processing limitations/computational load 9

10 A little on my methodology (but see previous Institutes for PPTs and poster) 1. THE SEMANTIC ENTAILMENTS (SE) TASK elicited most salient entailments of sentences that provided no aspectual information except that instantiated by verbal morphology (similar to Slabakova 2005). internet-based, multiple choice, no time restriction, no back-tracking Difficult semantics : finding the most logical interpretation of the sentence requires retrieval of all possible interpretations of the sentence, even those potentially imposed by discourse. Easy for working memory: all sentences and choices presented at once 2. THE STOP-MAKING-SENSE (SMS) TASK tested the participants’ sensitivity to mismatches between a disambiguating adverbial and the predicate under high working memory load. on researcher’s computer, self-paced, one word at a time, no back-tracking Simpler semantics than the SE Task; however, a high working memory load ================================================= IN BOTH TASKS:  vocabulary from common college textbook  the same three conditions  In each condition, pairs of perfective/imperfective sentences differing in aspectual interpretation based on one morpheme:  presence/absence of a telicizing prefix  presence/absence of an imperfectivizing suffix 10

11 A GLANCE AT PARTICIPANTS The L1 group was tested in one university in Russia The HL and L2 group were tested in several universities in the US PROFICIENCY MEASURE was Slabakova’s (2005) cloze test (% correct) HL group, split by Age of onset of Bilingualism (AOB): NMean Age (range) SDMean Proficiency (range) SD L13021 (16 – 40) (80 – 100)4.9 L (20-60) (80% -100%)6.2 HL2221 (19 – 28) (83.3 – 100)4.0 NMean Age (range) SDMean Proficiency (range) SD HL early (0-4) (19 – 22)194.2 (91.2 – 97.3)4.5 HL late (7-13) (19 – 28)2.597 (94.9 – 99)3.2 11

12 POTENTIAL JUDGMENT BIASES (SE task) ========================================================== HL and L2 groups show more optionality in judgments than the L1 controls L2 group  more non-salient choices than the L1 and HL groups 12

13 POTENTIAL JUDGMENT BIASES (SMS task) Group The SMS task (with fillers) Mean (accept)SD L %2.91 L257.58%9.25 HL50.25 %3.88 GroupSMS Aspect items only Mean (accept)SD L %5.01 L %15.58 HL50.65 %9.97 ============================================ Neither L1 nor HL group was biased towards accepting or rejecting sentences. L2 was biased towards ACCEPTING, especially in Aspect items! - consistent with other studies where L2 learners were more likely to accept when in doubt than monolinguals 13

14 Results:  While HL speakers have advantage over L2 learners, both groups have shown differential processing of telicity and boundedness depending on the task and morphological structure.  Primary imperfectives are equally difficult for L2 learners in two different tasks while secondary imperfectives are either very difficult or seemingly easy to process depending on the task.  In the Semantic Entailments task, the morphological complexity of secondary imperfectives coupled with their semantic complexity, hinders interpretation.  In contrast, in the Stop-Making-Sense task the idiosyncratic morphology marking lexical aspect hinders processing, while the regular mechanism of marking grammatical aspect facilitates it. 14

15 DISCUSSION  The difficulties with Russian Verbal Aspect are not necessarily the result of a diverging grammar (rules of aspect formation) but may be attributed to reduced lexical and morphological knowledge as well as processing limitations.  Even in comprehension, the type of task and the type of linguistic knowledge that needs to be integrated can influence the processing of the same functional morphology  English processing strategies may interfere with the comprehension of Russian aspect by potentially incomplete acquirers in tasks carrying a higher processing demand. 15

16 DIRECTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH  Comparing with production data (ongoing)  Controlling iterative vs ongoing imperfective interpretation (ongoing)  Looking into tense-aspect pragmatics (in prep)  Testing effects of (explicit) instruction  Comparing with other language pairings 16

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