Why and How Grammar Matters for Post- puberty Immigrants with Limited Formal Schooling



Year of publication 2022
Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Attached files
Description Grammar provides a basis for oral proficiency and reading comprehen- sion. Research indicates that second language learners—regardless of educational background and age—follow similar developmental routes. In this chapter, we explore the wealth of research from over more than half a century on the acquisition of grammar by post-puberty immigrants with and without formal schooling. To accomplish this, we cover seminal studies of older learners with varying levels of formal education and recent studies of immigrants with little or no formal education acquiring English or Italian. The cross-linguistic comparison between English and Italian shows the developmental progression in their acquisition of morphosyntax through comparable stages, even when one language is more highly inflected than the other. In both English and Italian, learners’ subconscious application of mental mechanisms to the input they receive prompts their creative construction of a new language, even after puberty. In understanding the processes responsible, practitio- ners can see how learners’ errors are a natural and encouraging sign of learners’ progression towards higher levels of second language (L2) competence.

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