EUROSLA 6: A selection of papers
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Recent work in second language acquisition research has seen a renewed interest in 'external factors' affecting the acquisition process. However, few studies have adressed the question of how the interactional features of the social context in which naturalistic learning takes place, can influence second language development. The research presented in this paper is an attempt to fill this gap, in applying a 'language socialization' (Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986) perspective on non-instructed second language acquisition. The subject of the study is a Moroccan five-year- old girl, who was videotaped in an ethnographic study of her acquisition of Italian as a second language. This approach allowed to collect data both on the girl's linguistic development and on the socio-interactional environment in which it took place. It was thus possible to investigate the systematic relationships between interlanguage and its context of acquisition.This preliminary investigation focuses on three different language levels. The first is the lexicon: the very first words learned by the girl can be shown to have a particular relevance for the nursery school's communicative economy. The second area of investigation is morphology. Here, too, one can see how some of the first grammatical morphemes acquired, diminutives and superlatives, played a role in facilitating the learner's socialization. Finally, an examination of how syntactic structures were initially produced, shows that sentence construction was influenced by the interactional needs of the speaker in a particular communicative context. It is argued that all these aspects of second language acquisition can -at least partially - be explained by reference to the socio-cultural context of learning. Given the importance recently attributed to interaction as one of the most powerful determinants of naturalistic second language acquisition, it is suggested that the study of the sociolinguistic environment - or the 'ecology' of second language acquisition - is a profitable direction for future research.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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