Morphological and Syntactic Abilities in Taiwanese EFL Children's Oral Narratives
|摘要:||有鑑於外語學習在台灣的日漸普及，兒童語言習得（children’s language acquisition）在過去數十年間比以往更受重視。為了解兒童語言習得，學者廣為研究其構詞與句法發展(morphological and syntactic development)。因著，構詞與句法處理為兒童語言習得中兩項基本要素，孩童的構詞與句法能力將能透過其口語敘事的樣本予以分析。
因此，許多專家研究孩童說故事活動中的構詞與句法能力。許多探討孩童在敘事情境下之構詞與句法發展的研究主要針對正常發展(typically-developing)和異常發展(atypically-developing)孩童以及低成就孩童(children with low school achievement)。有些研究討論孩童的英語與母語習得，而在這些研究當中，大部分所分析的語言，在音節類型和音韻成分本質上十分不同，但同是使用拉丁字母且共有許多同源詞(cognates)，例如，英文與西班牙文。然而，卻較少研究針對英文和非印歐語(例如，中文)的習得。除此之外，鮮少研究專文探討在敘事情境下，以中文為母語，英文為外語之兒童的構詞與句法能力及跨語言影響(cross-linguistic influences)。
研究結果顯示，在口語述說能力的分析方面，以英文為外語之台灣兒童的中文語言樣本中有較多的總共句數(number of modified C-units)、總詞彙數(number of total words)和相異詞彙數(number of different words)，而英文語言樣本中則有較長的平均語句長度(mean length of modified C-unit in words)。在構詞錯誤 (morphological errors)分析方面，較多孩童在英文語言樣本中出現較多構詞錯誤，相對而言，較少孩童在中文語言樣本中出現構詞錯誤。在句法結構(syntactic structures)的使用方面，較多孩童在中文語言樣本中使用多種類型的中文語法句型；反之，較少孩童在英文語言樣本中使用不同的英文語法句型。除此之外，和構詞與句法相關的跨語言影響方面，研究發現較多中文影響英文的結構；因此，孩童的中文口語述說能力相對於英文口語述說能力較好。最後，希望本研究的發現，能帶給早期兒童語言習得學者和教師們更多的應用與未來研究上的參考與建議。|
Children’s language acquisition has attracted more attention than it was before because of the widespread of second language learning and the increasing number of young learners over the last decades. In order to understand children’s language acquisition, their morphological and syntactic abilities has been widely investigated. Morphological and syntactic processing are the two basic processes involved in acquiring language skills for young learners. Children’s morphological and syntactic knowledge can be examined in their oral narratives. As a result, many researchers have investigated children’s morphological and syntactic abilities in the storytelling task. A large number of studies on children’s acquisition of morphology and syntax in a narrative context have focused on typically-developing children and atypically-developing children (e.g., children with specific language impairment) as well as children with low school achievement. Some studies have reported children’s acquisition of English and their first language. Most of the ESL studies with children have examined languages that differ substantially in types of syllables and phonemic components used, but that are similar in sharing the Latin alphabets and a large number of cognates such as the English-Spanish pairing. However, little research has studied pairings of English with non-Indo-European languages such as Chinese. Moreover, relatively few studies have specially documented Chinese-speaking ESL children’s morphological and syntactic abilities as well as cross-linguistic influences in a narrative context. This study, therefore, aimed at examining Taiwanese EFL children’s morphological and syntactic abilities as well as possible cross-linguistic influences observed in their Mandarin and English narratives elicited by a wordless picture book, Frog, where are you? (Mayer, 1969). The main purpose of the present study was to investigate Taiwanese EFL preschoolers’ morphological and syntactic abilities in their Mandarin and English stories. A subsidiary purpose was to examine the existence of possible cross-linguistic influences on their storytelling task. The children’s language productivity was also measured to determine whether there were significant language effects on the children’s language productivity in their stories. The findings showed that, for language productivity measures, the Taiwanese EFL children produced higher number of modified C-units, number of total words, and number of different words but shorter mean length of modified C-unit in words in their Mandarin narratives than in English ones. Despite the fact that the children told stories of equal length in both the Mandarin and English narrative tasks, there were differences between the Mandarin and English stories in the children’s language productivity measures. For morphological errors, more children had more variety of English erroneous uses while relatively fewer children made Mandarin morphological errors. When it comes to measures of syntactic structures, the children used more variety of the pre-specified Mandarin syntactic structures than English ones. In addition, more cross-linguistic structures with influences at morphological and syntactic levels from Mandarin to English were identified. As a result, the children appeared to perform better in their Mandarin stories than in English ones. Finally, the findings from this work can provide early childhood professionals or educators with implications and suggestions for future research.
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