Teachers College, Columbia University Working Papers in TESOL & Applied Linguistics, Vol 10, No 2 (2010)

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L2 Learner-Made Formulaic Expressions and Constructions

Timothy Hall

Abstract


The emergence of lexico-grammatical productivity has been a central issue in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Ellis (2002) proposed that formulaic chunks of language are one resource for the learner to develop such productivity. This exploratory study sought to determine whether formulaic language chunks were observed in the oral production of three adult beginner learners of English as a Second Language (ESL) over a nine-week period in a community language program. It also attempted to determine whether there was a developmental relationship between formulae and productive forms called constructions. Tasks used to elicit the data included picture description tasks and semi-structured interviews. Results showed that formulae were minimally present in the learner output and that constructions and formulae of similar structure coexisted, but that a developmental relationship between formulae and constructions was not clearly evident. The discussion proposes the existence of a pre-formulaic stage account for the data, and submits that the relationship between formulae and productive constructions requires more intensive study.

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