Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2542-3835
  • E-ISSN: 2542-3843
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This study investigated the topic-prominent characteristics of the interlanguage development of native speakers of Chinese learning English as a foreign language (EFL). Two groups of Chinese EFL learners – an intermediate group and an advanced group – were recruited to complete two production tasks: a written Chinese-to-English translation task and an oral story-retelling task. The findings showed that Chinese EFL learners at each proficiency level transferred Chinese topic-prominent structures to their target language production at a varying degree. The topic-prominent constructions in the learners’ production, based on a hierarchy of difficulty, were placed on two slightly different Gradation Zones, one for written production and the other for oral production. Gradation Zones were a generalized reflection of how discourse and pragmatic relations in topic-prominent Chinese were gradually reanalyzed as syntactic relations with the development of learners’ English proficiency level. There was a tendency for topic-prominent features to decrease and subject-prominent features to increase as EFL learners’ proficiency level progressed. It was also argued that sources of these topic-prominent properties in interlanguage were an interaction of factors, including degree of markedness, perceptual saliency, second language (L2) input, and language production task type.


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