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Early use of null and overt subjects in L2 Spanish: evidence from two oral tasks

Early use of null and overt subjects in L2 Spanish: evidence from two oral tasks

Dominguez, Laura and Arche, Maria (2022) Early use of null and overt subjects in L2 Spanish: evidence from two oral tasks. In: McManus, Kevin and Schmid, Monika S., (eds.) How special are early birds?: Foreign language teach- ing and learning. EuroSLA Studies 6 . Language Science Press, Berlin, pp. 183-218. ISBN 978-3961103898; 978-3985540471 (doi:

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Recent research has shown that advanced English learners of Spanish can successfully acquire the syntactic, pragmatic and referential properties of null and overt subjects. However, acquiring these structures is problematic at beginner and at intermediate stages of acquisition for these learners. In this study, we investigate the emergence and development of null and overt subjects by 60 English learners of Spanish (20 beginners, 20 intermediate and 20 advanced) in order to understand why these forms are initially difficult to acquire. The oral data for this study were collected using a paired discussion task and a story retell and are freely available from the SPLLOC project ( We argue that the cline of difficulty suggested by Cho & Slabakova (2013), based on whether L1-L2 form-meaning mismatches require reassembly and whether a dedicated morpheme is available, makes appropriate predictions for these structures. We also argue that the type of task used to elicit the oral data and the overall linguistic and narrative abilities of the learners are also likely to influence the rate of use of these forms.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: null and overt subjects; narrative abilities; second language acquisition
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > Centre for Research & Enterprise in Linguistics (CREL)
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
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Last Modified: 29 Mar 2023 13:47

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