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Acquisition of the present perfect and the simple past by Malaysian Chinese ESL learners


Kwan, Erica Lee Yin and Wong, Bee Eng (2016) Acquisition of the present perfect and the simple past by Malaysian Chinese ESL learners. Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 24 (2). pp. 867-888. ISSN 0128-7702; ESSN: 2231-8534


The simple past and present perfect are two areas of English grammar that are introduced to Malaysian learners at an early stage at primary school level. However, many Malaysian learners seem to have persistent difficulty distinguishing between the two and using them even at an advanced level of proficiency. This persistent difficulty raises the question of whether or not such difficulty is directly attributable to fist language (L1) influence. Since competing hypotheses attempting to explain this phenomenon have received limited testing particularly in the Malaysian context, this study considers the implications of the FFFH approach, (Hawkins & Chan, 1997) to explain how the L1 might influence the L2 acquisition of the English present perfect. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether the persistent difficulty in the use of the present perfect and the simple past is directly attributable to L1 influence. In addition, the study also investigated whether or not Chinese speakers experience syntactic deficits in the L2 if specified parameterised features present in the functional categories of the L2 are not specified in the L1. Participants involved in this study were 30 Chinese ESL learners whose proficiency in English ranged from intermediate to advanced levels based on their combination scores in the Oxford Placement Test (OPT) and Vocabulary Levels Test (VLT). The instruments used for this study was a Paradigm Task, which was taken from Liszka's work (2005), and an oral production task. The study was in part a replication of Liszka's study (2005) which was the acquisition of form-meaning relations of the English present perfect among L2 learners. The results of the present study suggest that the Chinese ESL learners persistently face difficulty in their production of the present perfect and simple past forms. The finding would have implications for the Malaysian ESL classroom.

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Additional Metadata

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Modern Language and Communication
Publisher: Universiti Putra Malaysia Press
Keywords: Chinese ESL leaners; FFFH approach; Present perfect; Second language acquisition (SLA); Simple past
Depositing User: Nurul Ainie Mokhtar
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2016 02:12
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2016 02:12
URI: http://psasir.upm.edu.my/id/eprint/29380
Statistic Details: View Download Statistic

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