Australian Applied Language Studies
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
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In this article it is claimed that there is a set of universal speech processing constraints which applies to all types of second language acquisition. These constraints define the range of possible hypotheses about the structure of the L2 which a learner can create at a given stage of development and cannot be overridden by formal instruction or by other alterations in the linguistic input.

These claims, however, do not imply that all types of language acquisition are identical or that teaching has no influence whatsoever on the way a second language develops in a formal context. It has been shown elsewhere (cf. Pienemann, 1984, 1985, 1987a) that under certain conditions teaching can influence formal L2 development. These demonstrable positive effects of teaching, however, remain inside the variational margin left open by the processing constraints.

The present paper reports on the interlanguage development of one learner of German as a second language, selected from a broader longitudinal study of one year’s duration. It was found that the learner’s word order development was identical to the natural development of German as a second language despite the progression intended in the teaching. A similar result was obtained in the development of verbal morphology. It is also shown that agreement marking is acquired at the same time as specific word order rules.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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