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An Empirical Study of Senior High School Students’ Production and Comprehension of the Existential There Construction
Lai, Hsiang Chun
Chang, Hsun Huei
Lai, Hsiang Chun
|Issue Date:||2016-05-09 13:31:55 (UTC+8)|
Based on previous empirical studies, Chinese EFL learners were found to overuse or misuse English existential construction. The present study aims to probe into how senior high school students produce and comprehend English existential construction, mainly the there-be sentences. The main concern includes the learners’ production and comprehension performances, the difficulty hierarchy of existential properties, and the error types in learners’ writing performances.
A total of eighty senior high school freshman students were invited to take the Chinese-English translation (CET) task and the grammatical judgment (GJ) task, and 129 senior high school first graders were asked to receive the guided writing (GW) task. The CET and GJ tasks were designed and analyzed in terms of four linguistic properties of English existential construction, including the copular be, the postverbal and locative noun phrases, the form of the second predicate, and the alienability between postverbal and locative noun phrases. The theories of Contrastive Analysis and Error Analysis were adopted in data analysis.
In conclusion, there are three findings in the present study. First of all, the results of the CET and GJ tasks showed that the subjects performed better in production than in comprehension as a whole. Second, though the differences between L1 and L2 did have influence on the subjects’ performance, yet their errors could not always be attributed to cross-linguistic influence. In other words, the subjects’ performances were not completely consistent with the theory of CA. Third, the corpus analysis of the GW task indicated that there was little overuse of English existential construction in the subjects’ writing performance, but half of the existential sentences that occurred in their writing were judged syntactically or semantically ungrammatical.
Hopefully, the present study will provide some pedagogical implications for the instruction of English existential construction. It is also expected that future studies will shed light on issues concerning the acquisition of English existential construction.
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