From EFL to ESL

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This chapter revisits the dichotomy that is traditionally made in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research between English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL) and argues, on the basis of data from the <i>International Corpus of Learner English</i>, that it should be viewed as a continuum instead, with many in-between categories corresponding to a variety of learning contexts. Using the case of the preposition <i>into</i> as an illustration, we show that the different environments in which Spanish-, French-, Dutch- and Tswana-speaking students learn English are reflected in their syntactic, semantic and lexical use of the preposition. More precisely, it appears that the Spanish-, French- and Dutch-speaking learners, who represent a cline in terms of exposure to the target language, from little exposure for the Spanish learners to considerable exposure for the Dutch learners, also form a cline in their use of <i>into</i>, from most distant to most similar to native (British) English. As for the Tswana variety, which clearly displays characteristics of both EFL and ESL, it occupies different positions along the cline, being sometimes closest to native English and sometimes most dissimilar, depending on the features of the use of <i>into</i> that are considered.


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