The University of Arizona

ANALYSIS OF L2 LEARNERS’ KNOWLEDGE OF PERFECTIVE LE IN MANDARIN

Yue Shi

Abstract


This study examines L2 Chinese learners’ knowledge of the perfective marker LE in Mandarin Chinese. More specifically, it investigates if learners at the intermediate level have acquired the necessary metalinguistic knowledge that governs LE use. The study addresses three research questions: First, when making errors, do L2 learners mostly oversupply or undersupply LE? Second, do L2 learners have the metalinguistic knowledge that certain verb types require the use of LE, while others do not allow it? Third, how do heritage speakers and Chinese Foreign Language (CFL) learners differ in their use of perfective LE? Thirty-two students studying Mandarin Chinese at a large American university participated in the study by completing a fill-in-the-blank task in which they were instructed to add LE to a text wherever they thought was necessary. The results indicate that in a fill-in-the-blank task using perfective LE, intermediate-level CFL learners have a greater problem with undersupplying LE than with oversupplying it. Verb type has a main effect on learners’ LE use because they have not fully acquired the metalinguistic knowledge about the interaction between lexical aspect and grammatical aspect. Furthermore, heritage speakers perform better than non-heritage learners in the use of perfective LE. This study highlights the importance for CFL teachers to give explicit instruction on how certain verb types favor or disfavor the use of LE.

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