Essay on Grammatical Processing in Language Learners

Essay on Grammatical Processing in Language Learners

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The keynote article “Grammatical processing in language learners” by Clahsen and Felser, aimed to compare the grammatical processing in adult native speakers, child first language learners, and adult second language learners (L2ers) (3). The authors examined works that observed the processing of morphology, ambiguous sentences, and syntactic dependencies before going into their general discussion in which they summarize the results and suggest the shallow structure hypothesis.
The first topic looked at by Clahsen and Felser was morphological processing. Native adult speakers (L1ers) use two methods for processing: lexical storage and morphological decomposition (5). The authors wanted to know if children and L2ers use the same processing techniques. For children, they found that they did, indeed, use the same processing techniques as native adult speakers. A study on the production of high and low frequency German regular and irregular participle forms (6). It was found that like native adults, children produced high-frequency irregular participles faster than low-frequency one and high-frequency regular participles slower than low-frequency ones (7-8). A second study on comprehension of German noun plurals looked at ERP waveforms of children and adults while they listened to German irregular/incorrect and regular/correct plural forms (8) Again both adults and children showed similar results: “frontal negativity followed by a centroparietal positivity” (9).
Clahsen and Felser explain that the only difference is speed, which possibly attributed to incomplete acquisition and/or slower lexical access (12). For L2ers, Clahsen and Felser looked at a study by Hahne which looked at ERPs of Russian L1 speakers who had acquired German a...

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...claim that (93) Clahsen and Felser did not say that L1 transfer does not exist, they said that not enough evidence has been found to determine if and how L1 transfer effects L2 language processing (29). They did say that if there is an effect, it is probably not a strong one because speakers with different L1s use the same L2 processing patters (29).

Works Cited

Clahsen, H., & Felser, C. (2006). Grammatical processing in language learners. Applied Psycholinguistics,
27(01), 3-42.
Duffield, N. (2006). How do you like your doughnuts?: A commentary on Clahsen and Felser’s
“Grammatical processing in language learners”. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27(01), 56-59.
Steinhauer, K. (2006). How dynamic is second language acquisition?: A commentary on Clahsen and
Felser’s “Grammatical processing in language learners”. Applied Psycholinguistics. 27(01), 92-95

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