The Role of Narrative Structure in the Acquisition of English Tense-Aspect Morphology by Thai Learners

Chiravate, Boonjeera
September 2011
Journal of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics;2011, Vol. 15 Issue 2, p27
Academic Journal
As regards the acquisition of L2 verbal morphology, one of the universal tendencies as elucidated by the Interlanguage Discourse Hypothesis (Bardovi-Harlig, 1994, p.43) is that language learners use emerging verbal morphology to distinguish foreground and background in narratives. This present study examines whether Thai EFL learners' use of English tense-aspect morphology is influenced by narrative structure by addressing 2 research questions: (I) Do learners exhibit different rates of use of past in foreground and background? (ii) How do dominant forms of foreground and background change as the learners become more proficient with respect to their L2 tense-aspect system? Data for the analysis came from written narratives produced by 120 Thai EFL learners divided into 5 proficiency levels. Results showed that the foreground exhibited greater rates of use of past than background across proficiency levels. The dominant forms characterizing foreground and background, however, change from nonpast to past as learners become more proficient with respect to their L2 tense-aspect system. Revealing an interplay between distribution of verbal morphology regarding narrative structure, the findings provide empirical support for the Interlanguage Discourse Hypothesis and shed light on the nature of difficulty learners experience in developing their L2 grammatical competence.


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