The Acquisition of Passive Constructions in L2 English by Mandarin Speakers
Western Sydney University
Native speakers can make efficient use of discourse-pragmatic devices such as the passive constructions effortlessly to communicate from an alternative perspectives. The acquisition and the felicitous use of discourse-pragmatic devices is an important milestone for L2 learners. This study utilises Processability Theory (Pienemann, 1998; Pienemann, Di Biase, & Kawaguchi, 2005) as the language development framework to investigate the acquisition and development of various English passive constructions by Mandarin speakers.
A cross-sectional study and a pretest/posttest study were employed to test the hypothesised order of acquisition of various English passive constructions and to investigate the processing factors that underlie the order of acquisition. Speech data from learners in both the English as a second language (ESL) and English as a foreign language (EFL) contexts were collected for analysis and comparison. Results show that, as hypothesised by the Processability Theory extension, learners at lower stages of development will use only the active construction, and that passive constructions will be more effortful for learners to process due to the greater processing loads involved in the required argument to grammatical function mapping. Furthermore, the study found that learners' development of various constructions under the broad passive voice category proceeds in a sequential fashion.
Keywords: Processability Theory, SLA, passive voice, passive constructions, discourse-pragmatics
ISBN 9783862886760. LINCOM Studies in Language Acquisition 35. 371pp. 2016.