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Task Design in L2 Tense and Aspect Research: What matters? Nicole Tracy-Ventura Laura Dominguez University of Southampton Contact

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Presentation on theme: "Task Design in L2 Tense and Aspect Research: What matters? Nicole Tracy-Ventura Laura Dominguez University of Southampton Contact"— Presentation transcript:

1 Task Design in L2 Tense and Aspect Research: What matters? Nicole Tracy-Ventura Laura Dominguez University of Southampton Contact

2 Spanish Learner Language Oral Corpus Project Collaboration between the Universities of Southampton, Newcastle, and Greenwich. Additional Team Members: Rosamond Mitchell, Florence Myles, and María Arche Tim Boardman, web design and IT support Previous Projects: SPLLOC 1 (www.splloc.soton.ac.uk) FLLOC (www.flloc.soton.ac.uk)

3 SPLLOC 2 Main Goal: to test the validity of the Aspect and the Discourse Hypotheses with reference to the acquisition of perfective and imperfective forms in L2 Spanish. Relevant features: 1. Cross-sectional design with native speaker controls 2. A combination of different task types 3. Data available online for use by other researchers Audio files (mp3 &.wav) Transcripts (CHILDES) Tagged files (MOR)

4 Perfective and Imperfective forms in Spanish Perfective (preterit): bounded Llegué tarde. (I arrived late.) Preparaste el almuerzo. (You prepared lunch.) Ella pintó. (She painted). Imperfective (imperfect): unbounded Llegaba tarde. (I would arrive late/was arriving late) Ella preparaba el almuerzo cuando … (She was preparing lunch when…) Estaban cansados. (They were tired)

5 SPLLOC 2 Research Questions: 1. Emergence: What is the pattern of Tense-Aspect development of English L2 learners of Spanish? 2. AH VS DH: Can the observed pattern be accounted for by the Aspect Hypothesis, the Discourse Hypothesis, or both? 3. Acquisition of Imperfective Semantic meanings: Which reading is the imperfect associated with in the first place (habitual, continuous, progressive)?

6 L2 Tense and Aspect Research Various hypotheses proposed to explain the L2 acquisition of tense-aspect morphology. For example: Aspect Hypothesis (Andersen & Shirai, 1994,1996) Discourse Hypothesis (Bardovi-Harlig, 1998) Default Past Tense Hypothesis (Salaberry, 1999, 2008) Distributional Bias Hypothesis (Andersen, 1994) Minimalist Hypothesis (Montrul & Slabakova, 2002) Despite a large body of research, still several issues to be resolved: Inconclusive results when comparing competing hypotheses (AH vs. DH). Acquisition of the imperfective has not been adequately addressed (Bardovi-Harlig, 2005).

7 Aspect Hypothesis (Andersen & Shirai, 1994, 1996) Perfective and Imperfective morphology emerge in a sequence determined by the inherent semantic properties of the verbal predicate Achievements (recognize, wake up) Accomplishments (build a house, write a letter) Activities (swim, walk, sing) States (be, want, love) Telic Atelic

8 Aspect Hypothesis predictions for Spanish PERFECTIVE: ACH – ACC – ACT – STA telic atelic IMPERFECTIVE: STA – ACT – ACC – ACH atelic telic

9 Prototypical Pairings: acquired first PERFECTIVE: ACH – ACC – ACT – STA telic atelic IMPERFECTIVE: STA – ACT – ACC – ACH atelic telic

10 Non-Prototypical Pairings: acquired later PERFECTIVE: ACH – ACC – ACT – STA telic atelic IMPERFECTIVE: STA – ACT – ACC – ACH atelic telic

11 Discourse Hypothesis (Bardovi-Harlig 1998) L2 learners use of temporal-aspectual forms is guided by narrative structure FOREGROUND moves time along chronologically PERFECTIVE BACKGROUND supporting information, description, evaluation, prediction IMPERFECTIVE

12 Studies testing the DH vs. AH For example: Bardovi-Harlig (1998) Liskin-Gasparro (2000) López-Ortega (2000) Comajoan & Pérez Saldanya (2005) Salaberry (2009) Results complicated because the cases where the hypotheses make opposite predictions have been difficult to elicit using more free and open-ended tasks Non-Prototypical Pairings

13 What about the elusive imperfect? (Bardovi-Harlig, 2005) The imperfect has multiple semantic interpretations but research has rarely taken this into consideration. (e.g., habitual, progressive, continuous) Are there meanings of the imperfect acquired before others?

14 In sum Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain the acquisition of past tense morphology. How do we make sense of all the results? Ayoun & Salaberry (2005) suggest that its not that one hypothesis is right and another is wrong. Each hypothesis might explain a different stage of development. However, What if our elicitation tasks are to blame? Most studies have not designed tasks considering prototypical and nonprototypical forms and discourse role.

15 Elicitation Tasks in Tense-Aspect Research Oral: Personal narratives Impersonal narratives (e.g., Modern Times) Role-plays Interviews and semi- structured interviews Free conversation Written: Personal narratives Impersonal narratives Essays/compositions Multiple choice Fill-in-the-blank Appropriateness judgments Sentence conjunction *Most studies use one or two task types, not a range.

16 Issues with Tasks Problems eliciting past tense morphology with prompts such as What happened in the story: Learners and NS use historical present Learners and NS focus on main events, i.e., foreground and not as much on background. Few nonprototypical pairings occur naturally Lafford (1996) no nonprototypical imperfect pairings

17 Task type can affect: 1. amount of lexical diversity Film retells – much higher percentage of achievement verbs than the three other lexical aspect classes (Bardovi-Harlig, 2000) 2. amount of foreground and background Impersonal narratives – more examples of foreground than background (Liskin-Gasparro, 2000). personal narratives – usually less constrained and often include more background (Bardovi-Harlig, 2005). 3. rates of appropriate use Learners most accurate with cloze tests, then written retells, then spoken retells (Bardovi-Harlig, 1998; Camps, 2002)

18 Conclusions Need tasks that accomplish the following: naturally elicit the past tense elicit a variety of verb types in both prototypical and nonprototypical pairings. are rich in background (vs. foreground). elicit the imperfect with different meanings (habitual, progressive, continuous). Need to have the same learners (across proficiency levels) do a variety of text and task types: Narratives, description, biographical controlled vs. less controlled production and comprehension

19 SPLLOC 2 Participants Post Year Abroad

20 SPLLOC 2 Tasks Task TypeResearch QuestionsFormat 1. Impersonal Controlled Narrative RQ 1: Emergence RQ 2: AH vs. DH Las Hermanas: picture-based story 2. Impersonal Narrative RQ 1: Emergence RQ 2: AH vs. DH Cat Story: picture-based story 3. Semi-structured Interview RQ 1: Emergence RQ 2: AH vs. DH Personal interview based on learners past experiences Task TypeResearch QuestionsFormat 4. Comprehension task RQ 3: Semantic meanings of the imperfect On-line context dependant preference task 5. Production task RQ 1: Emergence RQ 3: Progressive meaning of the imperfect Simultaneous Actions: Picture- based production task

21 Las Hermanas: controlled impersonal narrative Main task design issues: How to prompt learners to tell the story in the past How to demonstrate habituality with a picture- based narrative How to find pictures to demonstrate prototypical and nonprototypical pairings

22 Las Hermanas: controlled impersonal narrative Written by the research team Drawn by a hired artist – © SPLLOC 2009 Verb phrases provided (infinitive form) Targeted nonprototypical pairings (where AH & DH make opposite predictions) ACHACCACTSTATotal FORE BACK Total587525

23 Las vacaciones de Sarah y Gwen en España Verano del 2006 Sarah Gwen Prompt to push use of past

24 (visitar) la ciudad (comer) tapas (beber) vino Foreground: En MADRID

25 (coger) el tren (hablar) sobre su niñez Después decidieron ir a Barcelona Prompt to push use of past

26 1996 De pequeñas, (ser) muy diferentes Background begins: Prompts to push use of past

27 Gwen de niña…cada fin de semana (leer) un libro (pintar) un cuadro (escribir) un cuento Prompt to push use of habitual past

28 Cat Story: Impersonal narrative Story adapted from "Missing" by Jonathan Langley ©Francais Lincoln 2000 Rich in background information, both habitual actions and progressive. Learners were given time to preview the story before starting. Task Design Issues: same as other narrative

29 Prompt: Start of Background Todas las mañanas eran iguales… (Every morning was the same…) Prompt to push use of past and to be habitual

30 Prompt: Start of Foreground Hasta que un día … (Until one day…)

31 Interview Task Design Issues: How to elicit personal narratives (vs. impersonal) How to elicit nonprototypical pairings of activities and states in the preterit How to engage learners in the task (especially youngest group)

32 Interview: warm-up, biographical information John LennonDiana, Princesa de Gales Adolf Hitler ¿Qué sabes de estas personas? ¿Por qué eran famosos?

33 Interview, autobiographical information Mi primer recuerdo 3-6 años 7-11 años 12 años - ahora El fin de semana pasado Cuéntame cosas de tu vida…

34 Simultaneous Actions Task Design Issues: How to make sure we had opportunities for learners to use the imperfect for past progressive actions How to demonstrate progressivity with pictures How to prompt learners to describe the pictures in the past How to find pictures to demonstrate prototypical and nonprototypical pairings All pictures drawn by a hired artist, ©SPLLOC 2009

35 Javier and Silvia are cousins who travelled together to Mexico for holiday. They just arrived today and have already done a couple of things: But…all day yesterday they were very busy getting ready for their trip. What were they doing? BILLETES

36 Prompt: Mientras Javier…, Silvia… leer una carta levantarsepreparar café escuchar música

37 Comprehension Task Task Design Issues: Need to include all lexical aspect classes in both preterit and imperfect contexts. Need to include items testing the various imperfect interpretations Need to include a context that adequately settings the scene.

38 Comprehension Task Learners were given the prompt in English

39 Data Analysis – Oral Tasks All audio recordings transcribed according to CHAT conventions (CHILDES) Transcriptions checked and anonymised Transcriptions morpho-syntactically tagged (MOR) Transcriptions coded with specific aspectual and discursive features (VCX)

40 Participants Utterance *H26:de pequeñas eran muy diferentes. %mor:prep|de=of adj|pequeño-FEM-PL=small vpas|se-3P&PAS=be adv|muy=very adj|diferente-PL=different. %vcx:verb_STA|se-3P&PAS=be IMPF CORR TARGET 6| BACK continuous *H26:Gwen de niña leía un libro. %mor:n:prop|Gwen prep|de=of n|niño-FEM=child vpas|lee- 13S&PAS=read det:art|un&MASC=one n|libro&MASC=book. %vcx:verb_ACC|lee-13S&PAS=read IMPF CORR TARGET 7| BACK habitual *H26:pintaba un cuadro. %mor:vpas|pinta-13S&PAS=paint det:art|un&MASC=one n|cuadro&MASC=square. %vcx:verb_ACC|pinta-13S&PAS=paint IMPF CORR TARGET 8| BACK habitual

41 MOR tagged line *H26:de pequeñas eran muy diferentes. %vcx:verb_STA|se-3P&PAS=be IMPF CORR TARGET 6| BACK continuous *H26:Gwen de niña leía un libro. %vcx:verb_ACC|lee-13S&PAS=read IMPF CORR TARGET 7| BACK habitual *H26:pintaba un cuadro. %vcx:verb_ACC|pinta-13S&PAS=paint IMPF CORR TARGET 8| BACK habitual %mor:prep|de=of adj|pequeño-FEM-PL=small vpas|se-3P&PAS=be adv|muy=very adj|diferente-PL=different. %mor:n:prop|Gwen prep|de=of n|niño-FEM=child vpas|lee- 13S&PAS=read det:art|un&MASC=one n|libro&MASC=book %mor:vpas|pinta-13S&PAS=paint det:art|un&MASC=one n|cuadro&MASC=square.

42 VCX tagged line *H26:de pequeñas eran muy diferentes. %mor:prep|de=of adj|pequeño-FEM-PL=small vpas|se-3P&PAS=be adv|muy=very adj|diferente-PL=different. *H26:Gwen de niña leía un libro. %mor:n:prop|Gwen prep|de=of n|niño-FEM=child vpas|lee- 13S&PAS=read det:art|un&MASC=one n|libro&MASC=book. *H26:pintaba un cuadro. %mor:vpas|pinta-13S&PAS=paint det:art|un&MASC=one n|cuadro&MASC=square. %vcx: verb_STA|se-3P&PAS=be IMPF CORR TARGET 6| BACK continuous %vcx:verb_ACC|lee-13S&PAS=read IMPF CORR TARGET 7| BACK habitual %vcx:verb_ACC|pinta-13S&PAS=paint IMPF CORR TARGET 8| BACK habitual

43 Preliminary Results Tasks were successful at eliciting past. Pictures worked well for eliciting different lexical aspect classes and habitual/progressive events. More equal amounts of foreground/background elicited in the narratives.

44 Controlled Impersonal Narrative: Las Hermanas 2220 predicates were coded: Y10 = 497 Y13 = 516 UG = 587 NS = 620 Foreground = 47% Background = 53% Achievements = 20%, Accomplishments = 26% Activities = 25%, States = 29%

45 Percentage of production within lexical aspect classes, Controlled narrative ACHACCACT STA FORE46.40%23.30%72.34%46.26% BACK53.60%76.70%27.66%53.74%

46 Cat Story – Native Speakers only 818 predicates coded 35% preterit 48% imperfect 7% past progressive 5% present 40% Foreground 60% Background Achievements = 36% Accomplishments = 15% Activities = 27% States = 22%

47 Within Lexical Aspect Class Analysis, Cat Story – NS ACHACCACT STA FORE64.97%44.44%25.79%11.30% BACK35.03%55.56%74.21%88.70%

48 Next steps in analysis Finish coding all tasks Consider across-group and within-group results for evidence of developmental stages Compare learners use of imperfect morphology on production tasks with the results of the comprehension task Compare learners performance across production tasks

49 TBLT Implications Past tense morphology is a developmental feature. When designing tasks: pay attention to the verb phrases used Are there both prototypical and nonprototypical pairings? consider the amount of foreground and background. Try to include equal amounts think about how useful prompts are use various text and task types

50 Spanish Learner Language Oral Corpus (SPLLOC) Thank you! Funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (award RES )

51 References Andersen, R. (1994). The insiders advantage. In A. Giacalone-Ramat & M. Vedovelli (Eds.), Italiano lingua seconda/lingua straniera (pp. 1-26). Rome: Bulzoni. Andersen, R. & Shirai, Y. (1994). Discourse motivations for some cognitive acquisition principles. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 16, Andersen, R. W., & Shirai, Y. (1996). Primacy of aspect in first and second language acquisition: The pidgin/Creole connection. In W.C. Ritchie & T.K. Bhatia (Eds.), Handbook of second language acquisition (pp ). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Ayoun, D. & Salaberry, R. (2005). Towards a comprehensive model of the acquisition of L2 tense-aspect in the Romance languages. In Ayoun, D. & R. Salaberry (Eds.), Tense and aspect in Romance languages (pp ). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Bardovi-Harlig, K. (1998). Narrative structure and lexical aspect: Conspiring factors in second language acquisition of tense-aspect morphology. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 20, Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2000). Tense and aspect in second language acquisition: Form, meaning, and use. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, Inc. Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2005). Tracking the elusive imperfect in adult second language acquisition: Refining the hunt. In P. Kempchinsky & R. Slabakova (Eds.), Aspectual inquiries (pp ). Dordrecht: Kluwer. Camps, J. (2002). Aspectual distinctions in Spanish as a foreign language: The early stages of oral production. IRAL, 40,

52 Comajoan, L. & Pérez Saldanya, M. (2005). Grammaticalization and language acquisition: Interaction of lexical aspect and discourse. In D. Eddington (ed.), Selected Proceedings of the 6 th Conference on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese as First and Second Languages (pp.44-55). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. Lafford, B. (1996). The development of tense/aspect relations in L2 Spanish narratives: evidence to test competing theories. Paper read at SLRF 96, at Tucson, AZ. Liskin-Gasparro, J. (2000). The use of tense-aspect morphology in Spanish oral narratives: Exploring the perceptions of advanced learners. Hispania, 83, Lopez-Ortega, N. R. (2000). Tense, aspect, and narrative structure in Spanish as a second language. Hispania, 83, Montrul, S., & Slabakova, R. (2002). The L2 acquisition of morphosyntactic and semantic properties of the aspectual tenses preterite and imperfect. In A. T. Pérez-Leroux & J. Muñoz Liceras (Eds.), The acquisition of Spanish morphosyntax (pp ). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer. Salaberry, R. (1999). The development of past tense verbal morphology in classroom L2 Spanish. Applied Linguistics, 20, Salaberry, R. (2008). Marking past tense in second language acquisition: A theoretical Model. London: Continuum. Salaberry, R. (forthcoming). Assessing the effect of lexical aspect and grounding on the acquisition of L2 Spanish past tense morphology among L1 English speakers. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition.


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