Task Design in L2 Tense and Aspect Research: What matters? Nicole Tracy-Ventura Laura Dominguez University of Southampton Contact email: N.Tracy-Ventura@soton.ac.uk Spanish Learner Language Oral Corpus Project Collaboration between the Universities of Southampton, Newcastle, and Greenwich. Additional Team Members: Rosamond Mitchell, Florence Myles, and María Arche Tim Boardman, web design and IT support Previous Projects: SPLLOC 1 (www.splloc.soton.ac.uk) FLLOC (www.flloc.soton.ac.uk) SPLLOC 2 Main Goal: to test the validity of the Aspect and the Discourse Hypotheses with reference to the acquisition of perfective and imperfective forms in L2 Spanish. Relevant features: 1. 2. 3. Cross-sectional design with native speaker controls A combination of different task types Data available online for use by other researchers Audio files (mp3 & .wav) Transcripts (CHILDES) Tagged files (MOR) Perfective and Imperfective forms in Spanish Perfective (preterit): bounded Llegué tarde. (I arrived late.) Preparaste el almuerzo. (You prepared lunch.) Ella pintó. (She painted). Imperfective (imperfect): unbounded Llegaba tarde. (I would arrive late/was arriving late) Ella preparaba el almuerzo cuando … (She was preparing lunch when…) Estaban cansados. (They were tired) SPLLOC 2 Research Questions: 1. Emergence: What is the pattern of Tense-Aspect development of English L2 learners of Spanish? 2. AH VS DH: Can the observed pattern be accounted for by the Aspect Hypothesis, the Discourse Hypothesis, or both? 3. Acquisition of Imperfective Semantic meanings: Which reading is the imperfect associated with in the first place (habitual, continuous, progressive)? L2 Tense and Aspect Research Various hypotheses proposed to explain the L2 acquisition of tense-aspect morphology. For example: Aspect Hypothesis (Andersen & Shirai, 1994,1996) Discourse Hypothesis (Bardovi-Harlig, 1998) Default Past Tense Hypothesis (Salaberry, 1999, 2008) Distributional Bias Hypothesis (Andersen, 1994) Minimalist Hypothesis (Montrul & Slabakova, 2002) Despite a large body of research, still several issues to be resolved: Inconclusive results when comparing competing hypotheses (AH vs. DH). Acquisition of the imperfective has not been adequately addressed (Bardovi-Harlig, 2005). Aspect Hypothesis (Andersen & Shirai, 1994, 1996) Perfective and Imperfective morphology emerge in a sequence determined by the inherent semantic properties of the verbal predicate Telic Atelic Achievements (recognize, wake up) Accomplishments (build a house, write a letter) Activities (swim, walk, sing) States (be, want, love) Aspect Hypothesis predictions for Spanish PERFECTIVE: ACH – ACC – ACT – STA telic atelic IMPERFECTIVE: STA – ACT – ACC – ACH atelic telic Prototypical Pairings: acquired first PERFECTIVE: ACH – ACC – ACT – STA telic atelic IMPERFECTIVE: STA – ACT – ACC – ACH atelic telic Non-Prototypical Pairings: acquired later PERFECTIVE: ACH – ACC – ACT – STA telic atelic IMPERFECTIVE: STA – ACT – ACC – ACH atelic telic Discourse Hypothesis (Bardovi-Harlig 1998) L2 learners’ use of temporal-aspectual forms is guided by narrative structure FOREGROUND moves time along chronologically PERFECTIVE BACKGROUND supporting information, description, evaluation, prediction IMPERFECTIVE Studies testing the DH vs. AH For example: Bardovi-Harlig (1998) Liskin-Gasparro (2000) López-Ortega (2000) Comajoan & Pérez Saldanya (2005) Salaberry (2009) Results complicated because the cases where the hypotheses make opposite predictions have been difficult to elicit using more free and open-ended tasks Non-Prototypical Pairings What about the ‘elusive imperfect’? (Bardovi-Harlig, 2005) The imperfect has multiple semantic interpretations but research has rarely taken this into consideration. (e.g., habitual, progressive, continuous) Are there meanings of the imperfect acquired before others? In sum Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain the acquisition of past tense morphology. How do we make sense of all the results? Ayoun & Salaberry (2005) suggest that it’s not that one hypothesis is right and another is wrong. Each hypothesis might explain a different stage of development. However, What if our elicitation tasks are to blame? Most studies have not designed tasks considering prototypical and nonprototypical forms and discourse role. Elicitation Tasks in Tense-Aspect Research Oral: Personal narratives Impersonal narratives (e.g., Modern Times) Role-plays Interviews and semistructured interviews Free conversation Written: Personal narratives Impersonal narratives Essays/compositions Multiple choice Fill-in-the-blank Appropriateness judgments Sentence conjunction *Most studies use one or two task types, not a range. Issues with Tasks Problems eliciting past tense morphology with prompts such as “What happened in the story”: Learners and NS use historical present Learners and NS focus on main events, i.e., foreground and not as much on background. Few nonprototypical pairings occur naturally Lafford (1996) no nonprototypical imperfect pairings Task type can affect: 1. amount of lexical diversity Film retells – much higher percentage of achievement verbs than the three other lexical aspect classes (Bardovi-Harlig, 2000) 2. amount of foreground and background Impersonal narratives – more examples of foreground than background (Liskin-Gasparro, 2000). personal narratives – usually less constrained and often include more background (Bardovi-Harlig, 2005). 3. rates of appropriate use Learners most accurate with cloze tests, then written retells, then spoken retells (Bardovi-Harlig, 1998; Camps, 2002) Conclusions Need tasks that accomplish the following: naturally elicit the past tense elicit a variety of verb types in both prototypical and nonprototypical pairings. are rich in background (vs. foreground). elicit the imperfect with different meanings (habitual, progressive, continuous). Need to have the same learners (across proficiency levels) do a variety of text and task types: Narratives, description, biographical controlled vs. less controlled production and comprehension SPLLOC 2 Participants Group Number Age Hours of instruction Year 10 20 14-15 c200 hours 17-18 c500 hours 21-23 Final Year 18 Year 13 (target:20) Undergraduates 20 Post Year Abroad Native Speakers 15 14-28 N/A SPLLOC 2 Tasks Task Type Research Questions Format Las Hermanas: picture-based story 1. Impersonal Controlled Narrative RQ 1: Emergence RQ 2: AH vs. DH 2. Impersonal Narrative RQ 1: Emergence RQ 2: AH vs. DH Cat Story: picture-based story 3. Semi-structured Interview RQ 1: Emergence RQ 2: AH vs. DH Personal interview based on learners’ past experiences Task Type Research Questions Format 4. Comprehension task RQ 3: Semantic meanings of the On-line context dependant imperfect preference task 5. Production task RQ 1: Emergence RQ 3: Progressive meaning of the imperfect Simultaneous Actions: Picturebased production task Las Hermanas: controlled impersonal narrative Main task design issues: How to prompt learners to tell the story in the past How to demonstrate habituality with a picturebased narrative How to find pictures to demonstrate prototypical and nonprototypical pairings Las Hermanas: controlled impersonal narrative Written by the research team Drawn by a hired artist – ©SPLLOC 2009 Verb phrases provided (infinitive form) Targeted nonprototypical pairings (where AH & DH make opposite predictions) ACH ACC ACT STA Total FORE 2 1 6 4 13 BACK 3 7 1 1 12 Total 5 8 7 5 25 Las vacaciones de Sarah y Gwen en España Gwen Sarah Prompt to push use of past Verano del 2006 Foreground: En MADRID (visitar) la ciudad (comer) tapas (beber) vino Prompt to push use of past Después decidieron ir a Barcelona (coger) el tren (hablar) sobre su niñez Background begins: Prompts to push use of past 1996 De pequeñas, (ser) muy diferentes Prompt to push use of habitual past Gwen de niña…cada fin de semana (leer) un libro (escribir) un cuento (pintar) un cuadro Cat Story: Impersonal narrative Story adapted from "Missing" by Jonathan Langley ©Francais Lincoln 2000 Rich in background information, both habitual actions and progressive. Learners were given time to preview the story before starting. Task Design Issues: same as other narrative Prompt: Start of Background Todas las mañanas eran iguales… (Every morning was the same…) Prompt to push use of past and to be habitual Prompt: Start of Foreground Hasta que un día … (Until one day…) Interview Task Design Issues: How to elicit personal narratives (vs. impersonal) How to elicit nonprototypical pairings of activities and states in the preterit How to engage learners in the task (especially youngest group) Interview: warm-up, biographical information John Lennon Diana, Princesa de Gales Adolf Hitler ¿Qué sabes de estas personas? ¿Por qué eran famosos? Interview, autobiographical information El fin de semana pasado 7-11 años Mi primer recuerdo 3-6 años 12 años ahora Cuéntame cosas de tu vida… Simultaneous Actions Task Design Issues: How to make sure we had opportunities for learners to use the imperfect for past progressive actions How to demonstrate progressivity with pictures How to prompt learners to describe the pictures in the past How to find pictures to demonstrate prototypical and nonprototypical pairings All pictures drawn by a hired artist, ©SPLLOC 2009 Javier and Silvia are cousins who travelled together to Mexico for holiday. They just arrived today and have already done a couple of things: BILLETES But…all day yesterday they were very busy getting ready for their trip. What were they doing? Prompt: Mientras Javier…, Silvia… 9.00 levantarse 10.00 leer una carta 9.00 preparar café 10.00 escuchar música Comprehension Task Task Design Issues: Need to include all lexical aspect classes in both preterit and imperfect contexts. Need to include items testing the various imperfect interpretations Need to include a context that adequately settings the scene. Comprehension Task Learners were given the prompt in English Data Analysis – Oral Tasks All audio recordings transcribed according to CHAT conventions (CHILDES) Transcriptions checked and anonymised Transcriptions morpho-syntactically tagged (MOR) Transcriptions coded with specific aspectual and discursive features (VCX) Participant’s Utterance *H26: %mor: %vcx: *H26: %mor: %vcx: *H26: %mor: %vcx: de pequeñas eran muy diferentes . prep|de=of adj|pequeño-FEM-PL=small vpas|se-3P&PAS=be adv|muy=very adj|diferente-PL=different . verb_STA|se-3P&PAS=be IMPF CORR TARGET 6| BACK continuous Gwen de niña leía un libro . n:prop|Gwen prep|de=of n|niño-FEM=child vpas|lee13S&PAS=read det:art|un&MASC=one n|libro&MASC=book . verb_ACC|lee-13S&PAS=read IMPF CORR TARGET 7| BACK habitual pintaba un cuadro . vpas|pinta-13S&PAS=paint det:art|un&MASC=one n|cuadro&MASC=square . verb_ACC|pinta-13S&PAS=paint IMPF CORR TARGET 8| BACK habitual MOR tagged line *H26: %mor: %vcx: *H26: %mor: %vcx: *H26: %mor: %vcx: de pequeñas eran muy diferentes . prep|de=of adj|pequeño-FEM-PL=small vpas|se-3P&PAS=be adv|muy=very adj|diferente-PL=different . verb_STA|se-3P&PAS=be IMPF CORR TARGET 6| BACK continuous Gwen de niña leía un libro . n:prop|Gwen prep|de=of n|niño-FEM=child vpas|lee13S&PAS=read det:art|un&MASC=one n|libro&MASC=book verb_ACC|lee-13S&PAS=read IMPF CORR TARGET 7| BACK habitual pintaba un cuadro . vpas|pinta-13S&PAS=paint det:art|un&MASC=one n|cuadro&MASC=square . verb_ACC|pinta-13S&PAS=paint IMPF CORR TARGET 8| BACK habitual VCX tagged line *H26: %mor: %vcx: *H26: %mor: %vcx: *H26: %mor: %vcx: de pequeñas eran muy diferentes . prep|de=of adj|pequeño-FEM-PL=small vpas|se-3P&PAS=be adv|muy=very adj|diferente-PL=different . verb_STA|se-3P&PAS=be IMPF CORR TARGET 6| BACK continuous Gwen de niña leía un libro . n:prop|Gwen prep|de=of n|niño-FEM=child vpas|lee13S&PAS=read det:art|un&MASC=one n|libro&MASC=book . verb_ACC|lee-13S&PAS=read IMPF CORR TARGET 7| BACK habitual pintaba un cuadro . vpas|pinta-13S&PAS=paint det:art|un&MASC=one n|cuadro&MASC=square . verb_ACC|pinta-13S&PAS=paint IMPF CORR TARGET 8| BACK habitual Preliminary Results Tasks were successful at eliciting past. Pictures worked well for eliciting different lexical aspect classes and habitual/progressive events. More equal amounts of foreground/background elicited in the narratives. Controlled Impersonal Narrative: Las Hermanas 2220 predicates were coded: Y10 = 497 Y13 = 516 UG = 587 NS = 620 Foreground = 47% Background = 53% Achievements = 20%, Accomplishments = 26% Activities = 25%, States = 29% Percentage of production within lexical aspect classes, Controlled narrative ACH ACC ACT STA FORE 46.40% 23.30% 72.34% 46.26% BACK 53.60% 76.70% 27.66% 53.74% Cat Story – Native Speakers only 818 predicates coded 35% preterit 48% imperfect 7% past progressive 5% present 40% Foreground 60% Background Achievements = 36% Accomplishments = 15% Activities = 27% States = 22% Within Lexical Aspect Class Analysis, Cat Story – NS ACH ACC ACT STA FORE 64.97% 44.44% 25.79% 11.30% BACK 35.03% 55.56% 74.21% 88.70% Next steps in analysis Finish coding all tasks Consider across-group and within-group results for evidence of developmental stages Compare learners’ use of imperfect morphology on production tasks with the results of the comprehension task Compare learners’ performance across production tasks TBLT Implications Past tense morphology is a developmental feature. 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