Special Issue "The Acquisition of French as a Second Language"

A special issue of Languages (ISSN 2226-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Martin Howard
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of French, University College Cork, Cork, T12 YN60, Ireland
Interests: second language acquisition; study abroad; advanced learner variety; (socio) linguistic variation; French language

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Article submissions are invited for a Special Issue of Languages on the theme of ‘The acquisition of French: First and Second Language Perspectives’. The Special Issue will address key areas in linguistic development, input issues, and the role of individual factors using diverse approaches and methods in the investigation of French L1/L2 acquisition. In the case of linguistic development, articles may focus on pronunciation, fluency, lexis, grammar, discourse, sociolinguistic competence and pragmatics, and target speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Additionally, studies that comparatively explore the L1–L2 and L2–L3 multilingual interface are also welcome. Articles may present empirical studies on learners at all stages of acquisition and in different learning contexts, such as naturalistic, instructed, immersion, and study abroad contexts. In the case of French L2 studies, research may focus on learners of a variety of source languages. Discussion articles are also welcome.

The Special Issue will offer a timely update on the acquisition of L1/L2 French in the context of contemporary theoretical issues, questions, and debates within L1/L2 acquisition. The Special Issue thus complements and builds on previous volumes on the acquisition of French such as Dewaele (2005), Labeau and Myles (2011), Lindqvist and Bardel (2012), Myles and Towell (2004), and Prévost (2009). Articles should be approximately 8000 words in length, while discussion articles may be shorter and follow the guidelines for presentation that are available on the journal website.

The tentative completion schedule is as follows:

-Abstract submission deadline: 15 April 2020

-Notification of abstract acceptance: 1 May 2020

-Full manuscript deadline: 1 November 2020

References

Dewaele, J-M. (2005) Focus on French as a foreign language. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Labeau, E. and Myles, F. (2011) The advanced learner variety. The case of French. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

Lindqvist, C. and Bardel, C. (2012) The acquisition of French as a second language. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Myles, F. and Towell, R. (2004) The acquisition of French as a second language. Special issue of Journal of French Language Studies 14,3.

Prévost, P. (2009) The acquisition of French: The development of inflectional morphology and syntax, in L1 acquisition, bilingualism, and L2 acquisition. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Dr. Martin Howard
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Languages is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • French
  • L2 acquisition
  • L1 acquisition
  • linguistic development
  • input
  • individual differences
  • age factor
  • pronunciation
  • fluency
  • lexis
  • grammar
  • discourse
  • sociolinguistic competence
  • pragmatics
  • instruction
  • immersion
  • study abroad
  • L1-L2 interface

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

Editorial
Introductory Article: French in Second Language Acquisition Research
Languages 2021, 6(2), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6020101 - 31 May 2021
Viewed by 806
Abstract
Emerging in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the ground-breaking work of Stephen Pit Corder, followed by Larry Selinker’s (1972) conceptualisation of ‘interlanguage’, second language acquisition (SLA) has developed into a highly buoyant independent field within the wider terrain that is applied [...] Read more.
Emerging in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the ground-breaking work of Stephen Pit Corder, followed by Larry Selinker’s (1972) conceptualisation of ‘interlanguage’, second language acquisition (SLA) has developed into a highly buoyant independent field within the wider terrain that is applied linguistics [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Article
The Emergence of Determiners in French L2 from the Point of View of L1/L2 Comparison
Languages 2021, 6(2), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6020073 - 12 Apr 2021
Viewed by 702
Abstract
The acquisition of determiners in French presents a significant challenge for both children in L1 and adults in L2. Research in L1 acquisition has found that French determiners, which are highly constrained, appear quite early relative to other languages. Using the conversational data [...] Read more.
The acquisition of determiners in French presents a significant challenge for both children in L1 and adults in L2. Research in L1 acquisition has found that French determiners, which are highly constrained, appear quite early relative to other languages. Using the conversational data of two beginning learners of French—a native speaker of Spanish and a native speaker of Arabic—in a natural setting (comparable to the L1 data), the present study seeks to understand how these constraints affect the acquisition of the determiner system in L2 French. Analyses reveal the following: (1) Unlike French children who produce “fillers” without clear functional distinctions, adults produce idiosyncratic pre-nominal monosyllables that not only fulfil the obligatory position of “determiner” but are also characterized by identifiable functions in terms of definiteness or indefiniteness. (2) Adult learners’ L1s (Spanish and Arabic) influence the acquisition of NP in French L2, as observed in the emergence of determination in the two learners’ productions. (3) Adult learners’ productions provide evidence of shared “language-neutral” processes attested in initial acquisition in a natural setting; these are independent of the L1 and L2 input properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
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Article
Strengthening L3 French Motivation: The Differential Impact of Vision-Enhancing Activities
Languages 2021, 6(1), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6010047 - 15 Mar 2021
Viewed by 710
Abstract
Even though the European Union has long promoted multilingualism, it has proven difficult to achieve widespread multilingual language competence beyond English through formal education in Europe. In Sweden, high dropout rates have been recorded in second foreign language (SFL) classes, and French is [...] Read more.
Even though the European Union has long promoted multilingualism, it has proven difficult to achieve widespread multilingual language competence beyond English through formal education in Europe. In Sweden, high dropout rates have been recorded in second foreign language (SFL) classes, and French is currently the most vulnerable language among the major SFLs with respect to the number of pupils and availability across the country. Therefore, an important question is how to increase the motivation for studying foreign languages other than English (LOTE), especially French. This paper reports on a semester-long quasi-experimental intervention study, with three activities designed to enhance pupils’ ideal L3 self (IL3S) and increase their intended effort (IE) to learn French. Data were collected in two grade 9 intervention classes (n = 45) and in a control class (n = 14) in Sweden using questionnaires and focus group interviews. We measured the effect of the intervention through pre- and post-tests in both groups and additionally after each activity in the intervention classes. The results showed no overall significant effect of the intervention, but a positive effect on IE among the students with the highest level of IL3S prior to the intervention. Moreover, gender differences were found for the initial activity on both IL3S and on IE. The results are discussed in relation to the ease of accessing the self-image and characteristics of IL3S that enhance activities and gender effects. Methodological challenges involved in intervention studies with intact classes are also highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
Article
Understanding High Performance in Late Second Language (L2) Acquisition—What Is the Secret? A Contrasting Case Study in L2 French
Languages 2021, 6(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6010032 - 19 Feb 2021
Viewed by 1096
Abstract
Adult L2 acquisition has often been framed within research on the Critical Period Hypothesis, and the age factor is one of the most researched topics of SLA. However, several researchers suggest that while age is the most important factor for differences between child [...] Read more.
Adult L2 acquisition has often been framed within research on the Critical Period Hypothesis, and the age factor is one of the most researched topics of SLA. However, several researchers suggest that while age is the most important factor for differences between child and adult SLA, variation in adult SLA is more dependent on social and psychological factors than on age of onset. The present qualitative study investigates the role of migratory experience, language use/social networks, language learning experience, identity and attitudes for high performance among Swedish L1 French L2 users in France. The study constitutes an in-depth thematic analysis of interviews with six high-performing individuals and four low-performing individuals. The main results show that the high performers differ from the low performers on all dimensions, except for attitudes towards the host community. High performers are above all characterized by self-reported language aptitude and an early interest in languages, which appears to have led to rich exposure to French. Also, they exhibit self-regulatory behaviors and attribute importance to being perceived as a native speaker of French—both for instrumental and existential reasons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
Article
Vocabulary Knowledge in L3 French: A Study of Swedish Learners’ Vocabulary Depth
Languages 2021, 6(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6010026 - 05 Feb 2021
Viewed by 693
Abstract
The overall aim of the present study is to achieve a better understanding of young instructed Swedish learners’ vocabulary knowledge in L3 French, by examining various aspects of vocabulary depth. Previous research has shown that this learner group’s vocabulary size increases systematically, and [...] Read more.
The overall aim of the present study is to achieve a better understanding of young instructed Swedish learners’ vocabulary knowledge in L3 French, by examining various aspects of vocabulary depth. Previous research has shown that this learner group’s vocabulary size increases systematically, and at a relatively fast pace, from grade 6 through grade 9 (i.e., from the first year of studies of French and onwards; from age 12 to 15). However, vocabulary size tests only give a quantitative estimation about how many words test takers know, and do not say anything about qualitative aspects of word knowledge. Vocabulary depth, on the other hand, concerns such aspects. In order to arrive at a more complete picture of learners’ word knowledge, both size and depth need to be examined. In the present study, aspects of vocabulary depth were analyzed in learners’ word choices in a written elicited production task. The data consist of 105 written retellings from students in grades 6, 7, 8, and 9. Word choices pertaining to various key elements in the retellings were included in the analysis, with a focus on orthographical, semantic, and morphological aspects of deep word knowledge. The results show that orthographical knowledge is similar throughout the years, with the same spelling difficulties occurring in all the grades at similar rates. Semantic and morphological knowledge seem to develop at a quicker pace, with the 8th and 9th graders having a deeper knowledge of these aspects. It can be concluded that some, but not all, aspects of deep knowledge start to develop during the first four years of studies of French. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
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Article
Additive Linking in L2 French Discourse by German Learners: Syntactic Embedding and Intonation Patterns
Languages 2021, 6(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6010020 - 28 Jan 2021
Viewed by 760
Abstract
This study deals with the expression of additive linking in L2 French by adult German learners with two proficiency levels (advanced vs. intermediate). We examine whether crosslinguistic influences are observed in three domains: the frequency and type of additive expressions in discourse, the [...] Read more.
This study deals with the expression of additive linking in L2 French by adult German learners with two proficiency levels (advanced vs. intermediate). We examine whether crosslinguistic influences are observed in three domains: the frequency and type of additive expressions in discourse, the syntactic integration of additive particles in the utterance and the prosodic contour associated with them. A total of 70 participants (20 French native speakers, 20 German native speakers and 30 German learners of L2 French) performed an oral narrative task elicited via a video clip presenting abundant additive contexts. Our results show that advanced German learners did not experience an L1 transfer in any of the domains analyzed, but instead they show a learner-specific tendency to overmark the contrastive status of the relevant entities in discourse. Yet traces of crosslinguistic influence are visible in intermediate learners’ choice and frequency of additive means, as well as the preferred position of the particles. All learners seem to have quickly discarded the possibility to mark scope by prosody, in contrast to what they do in their L1. We discuss these findings in the light of the L2 acquisition of cohesive devices in discourse and their interactions with different linguistic levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
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Article
Future or Movement? The L2 Acquisition of Aller + V Forms
Languages 2021, 6(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6010016 - 21 Jan 2021
Viewed by 740
Abstract
This study aims to advance the understanding of the impact of the discursive context in the form-function mappings of aller + V forms by native speakers (NSs) and learners of French (NNSs), and to further knowledge about the developmental patterns of use of [...] Read more.
This study aims to advance the understanding of the impact of the discursive context in the form-function mappings of aller + V forms by native speakers (NSs) and learners of French (NNSs), and to further knowledge about the developmental patterns of use of such forms at three proficiency levels (lower intermediate, upper intermediate, and advanced). While aller + V is often referred to as a periphrastic future form, i.e., a way to express temporal reference, it also takes a range of diverse semantic values (including spatial, aspectual, and modal values), and discursive functions. We therefore set out to examine data from a cross-sectional oral narrative and a longitudinal semi-guided interview task to find out to what extent aller + V forms are used by NSs and NNSs in a study abroad context. Our main results show that at lower intermediate level, spatial values dominate, while temporal and modal values emerge at upper intermediate and advanced levels. As regards the discursive functions of aller + V, learners make context appropriate choices (among others, narrative function in oral narratives, and stance-marking in interviews), but even at advanced level, their range of semantic values and discursive functions is more restricted than native speakers’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
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Article
How the CEFR Is Impacting French-as-a-Second-Language in Ontario, Canada: Teachers’ Self-Reported Instructional Practices and Students’ Proficiency Exam Results
Languages 2021, 6(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6010015 - 21 Jan 2021
Viewed by 767
Abstract
This exploratory article describes (1) the self-reported instructional practices of a group of 103 Kindergarten to Grade 12 French-as-a-second-language (FSL) teachers from school boards across Ontario, Canada before and after intensive and extensive professional learning about the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) [...] Read more.
This exploratory article describes (1) the self-reported instructional practices of a group of 103 Kindergarten to Grade 12 French-as-a-second-language (FSL) teachers from school boards across Ontario, Canada before and after intensive and extensive professional learning about the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) and (2) the areas of strength and opportunities for improvement in the FSL proficiency of 434 Grade 12 students from school boards across Ontario in their final year of study, as measured through their outcomes on the Diplôme d’études en langue française (the FSL proficiency exam aligned with the CEFR). In looking across the findings from these early-CEFR-adopter teachers and these highly-motivated students at the end of their FSL studies, the article offers a window onto how the CEFR is impacting the local landscape of FSL education in the province. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
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Article
Collocational Development during a Stay Abroad
Languages 2021, 6(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6010012 - 12 Jan 2021
Viewed by 666
Abstract
The purpose of the current study was to explore if and how additional-language learners may show changes in phraseological patterns over the course of a stay in a target-language environment. In particular, we focused on noun+adjective combinations produced by a group of additional-language [...] Read more.
The purpose of the current study was to explore if and how additional-language learners may show changes in phraseological patterns over the course of a stay in a target-language environment. In particular, we focused on noun+adjective combinations produced by a group of additional-language speakers of French at three points in time, spanning 21 months and including an academic year in France. We extracted each combination from a longitudinal corpus and determined frequency counts and two strength-of-association measures (Mutual information [MI] score and Log Dice) for each combination. Separate analyses were conducted for frequency and the strength-of-association measures, revealing that phraseological patterns are significantly predicted by adjective position in the case of all three measures, and that MI scores showed significant change over time. We interpret the results in light of past research that has reported contradictory findings concerning change in phraseological patterns following an immersion experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
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Article
Les copains *dit au revoir”: On Subject–Verb Agreement in L2 French and Cross-Linguistic Influence
Languages 2021, 6(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6010007 - 30 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 731
Abstract
This study focuses on the production of subject–verb (SV) agreement in number in L2 French and investigates the role of cross-linguistic influence (CLI) in this particular morphosyntactic domain. CLI is a well-known phenomenon in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research but it has rarely [...] Read more.
This study focuses on the production of subject–verb (SV) agreement in number in L2 French and investigates the role of cross-linguistic influence (CLI) in this particular morphosyntactic domain. CLI is a well-known phenomenon in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research but it has rarely been investigated systematically in relation to SV agreement in French. The participants of the study are 114 learners with Italian, German, Dutch and Swedish as L1. The source languages are all inflectional languages but they vary in terms of morphological richness in the verb paradigm, ranging from very poor (Swedish) to very rich (Italian). The participants performed an oral narrative task contrasting singular and plural contexts of SV agreement. Results indicate a significant difference between L1 groups in terms of correct SV agreement but they also show that the overall presence of rich verb morphology in the L1 does not, on its own, result in a more correct SV agreement. It is when comparing learners at two different proficiency levels that we observe differences in the rate of L2 development, which may be explained as an effect of CLI. Overall, results indicate a complex interplay of different factors, where the role of CLI must be further investigated in future studies in relation to L2 French. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
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Article
Actual and Self-Perceived Linguistic Proficiency Gains in French during Study Abroad
Languages 2021, 6(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6010006 - 30 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1655
Abstract
The present study focuses on 33 British and Irish students, including non-language specialists and language specialists, who spent their study abroad (SA) period in Francophone countries. Their proficiency in French ranged from lower independent (B1) to advanced level (C2). The analysis of quantitative [...] Read more.
The present study focuses on 33 British and Irish students, including non-language specialists and language specialists, who spent their study abroad (SA) period in Francophone countries. Their proficiency in French ranged from lower independent (B1) to advanced level (C2). The analysis of quantitative data collected at the start, in the middle, and at the end of the SA period through an online questionnaire showed that both actual proficiency and self-reported proficiency increased significantly after SA. A closer look at self-reported proficiency in the four skills showed a significant linear increase in speaking and listening, while scores for reading and writing only increased significantly after the mid-way point in the SA period. The same pattern emerged for grammar and vocabulary. Only pronunciation showed no significant change over the SA period. Linking the amount of change in actual proficiency between the start and the end of the SA period to participants’ descriptions of their experience revealed that progress was not always linked to overall positivity of the experience but rather to the development of a strong local French social network. Actual and self-reported proficiency scores were significantly correlated. Participants with lower initial actual proficiency were found to have made the biggest gain during SA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
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Article
A Longitudinal Study in the L2 Acquisition of the French TAM System
Languages 2020, 5(4), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5040042 - 23 Oct 2020
Viewed by 700
Abstract
Empirical studies investigating the second language (L2) acquisition of tense, aspect, mood/modality (TAM) systems offer an enlightening window into L2 learners’ linguistic competence because they involve all areas of a language, making them ideal testing grounds for the Interface hypothesis and ultimately whether [...] Read more.
Empirical studies investigating the second language (L2) acquisition of tense, aspect, mood/modality (TAM) systems offer an enlightening window into L2 learners’ linguistic competence because they involve all areas of a language, making them ideal testing grounds for the Interface hypothesis and ultimately whether adult learners may achieve a native-like TAM system. This longitudinal study used a pre-test, repeated exposure, delayed post-test design guided by a main research question—does the L2 learners’ interlanguage display contrasts and systematicity? Sixteen L2 French learners—L1 English (n = 9), HL French (n = 4), and HL Spanish (n = 3) speakers enrolled in a fourth-year college Film and Fiction class read five novels that were extensively discussed in class and used as essay topics, thus providing controlled, repeated exposure to oral and written input over a semester. Qualitative and quantitative findings reveal a highly accurate production of several forms, but with an over-reliance on the indicative present. The learners’ TAM system appears to be contrasted and varied, but unbalanced. Findings regarding the Interface hypothesis are mixed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
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Review

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Review
Input Issues in the Development of L2 French Morphosyntax
Languages 2021, 6(1), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6010034 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 769
Abstract
The aim of this article is to discuss the role of input characteristics in the development of French verb morphology. From a usage-based perspective, several cognitive and linguistic factors contribute to the ease or difficulty of processing input in L2 acquisition. This article [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to discuss the role of input characteristics in the development of French verb morphology. From a usage-based perspective, several cognitive and linguistic factors contribute to the ease or difficulty of processing input in L2 acquisition. This article concentrates on frequency, salience, and form–function association, factors that might influence what aspects of input are available to the learners’ attention. A presentation of French verb morphology from this perspective shows how these factors can contribute to the use of the regular -er verb paradigm as a default. A review of empirical studies confirms the influence of input characteristics. The results suggest that the dominant pattern of regular verbs and the scarcity of salient clues from irregular verbs contribute to the specificity of L2 French development. The conclusion addresses the question of enriching L2 classroom input with irregular verbs. Such an input could facilitate the perception of form–function association, and thus, contribute to a more efficient development of French verb morphology. The article concludes by suggesting other ways of studying the influence of input as well as avenues for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of French as a Second Language)
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