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Data Analysis Assignment

Xiayu Guo

Colorado State University



The data includes question formation and development from spontaneous speech and

translation. Part one is Japanese girls’ question development, and part two is Norwegian boys’



1. Consider the way this child forms question at month 1. What kind of generalization has

she made about English questions?

The child forms question at month 1 by input. This is a little Japanese girl, so the teacher

should create an environment that is benefit to her study. In order to achieve this goal, teacher

can speak English to the girl, but just some simple sentences. As time goes by, the girl gets to

know how to use simple present tense interrogative sentences. She makes generalization that the

English questions are only simple sentences.

2. Now consider the child’s question at Month 2. Is the child using the same generalization

as she was at month 1? What additional information do the data at Month 2 provide

about interpretation of the data at Month 1?

The child doesn’t use the same generalization. From the diagram, it can be easily found

that the child put the object at the end of sentence. She enlarges sentence length but makes error

about word order and the present continuous tense. Combining Month 2 and Month 1, the girl is

confused about word order and tense (verb form). In the first month, her sentences are right

because the sentences are short and easy but in the second month, she is taught long sentences.

The subject of sentences at Month 1 is “you”, but at Month 2, they are “this boy”, “this froggie”

and “you”. It seems that she cannot get rid of the expression habit in Japanese and what she

learned at Month 1. Therefore, she makes errors at Month 2 because the subject isn’t “you”.

3. Describe this child’s use of wh-words. How would you describe the development of this

child’s knowledge of question information? What evidence can you bring to bear to

support your conclusion?

The development and use of wh-words seem like U-shape model. At Month 2 and 3, the

child makes errors of “what” and “why” questions. From Month 4, she makes a great progress,

but at the Month 12, she makes error again. At the beginning, the child only knows how to make

simple present tense questions and she isn’t good at wh-questions. She begins to learn past tense

at Month 4 and makes less error on wh-questions. However, at the Month 8, she has difficulties

in past tense. She doesn’t know which word should change in to past tense (see or do). Month 9

to Month 11 is a risen period; t seems that she doesn’t have problems in English questions, but at

Month 12, she makes word order error again.

The girl’s learning procedure is a reflection of monitor hypothesis and natural order

hypothesis. It takes her some time to understand grammar regulation, so she makes error at the

beginning. However, after a period of learning, she begins to focus on form and grammar and

makes progress. According to natural order hypothesis, teaching and learning procedure must

pass through predictable stages in acquisition of grammatical structure. For example, she learns

present tense firstly and then comes to past tense.

4. What additional evidence would you like to see to support your analysis?

Firstly, I’d like to see the girl’s acquisition of other tenses questions, such as present

perfect tense. Next, I want to see how she answers these questions. With these additional

materials, I can understand her acquisition procedure more comprehensively. Last, I need data

about past tense from Month 1 to Month 3 and present tense from Month 9 to Month 12.

5. Describe the differences you note among the four data collection periods and the

progression of this child’s knowledge of English question.

At time 1, the boy forgets link verbs in English questions.

At time 2, the boy cannot use auxiliary verbs correctly, and sometimes forgets auxiliary verbs.

At time 3, although the boy is still confused about the usage of auxiliary verbs, he knows when

he should add auxiliary verbs in sentences. However, he inverses subjects and verbs in questions.

At time 4, he sometimes makes errors about the position of “not”, but he understands how to use

auxiliary verbs.

At the beginning, he makes simple and short sentences and has no conscience about link verbs

and auxiliary verbs. After a period of learning, he can choose the correct form of auxiliary verbs,

although sometimes on a wrong position. Finally, he puts auxiliary verbs in right position but

makes error about “not”.

6. Compare the description of this child’s acquisition of questions with that of the child in

part 1. To what extent does the native language seem to play a role in the acquisition of

English questions?

Native language plays a very important role in SLA. In part 1, that Japanese girl has

difficulties in acquiring wh-questions because wh-words don’t necessarily appear in sentence

initial position in Japanese and there is no inversion of subject and verb. When she begins

learning English, she cannot change the expression habits. In part 2, there is no equivalent of

English “do” in Norwegian questions, so the boy cannot use “do” correctly. Meanwhile,

questions are formed by inversion of subject and verb. At time 2, there is a wrong sentence

“Climb you?” Obviously, it’s influenced by inversion in his first language. At the time 3, the

inversion is more common.

7. Based on these data, what general statements/arguments can you formulate about the

nature of L2 acquisition.

Sometimes first language has negative transfer to second language; it impedes the process

of SLA. Educators and teachers should focus on input. At the beginning of learning second

language, forms and grammatical structures should be emphasized. When a students starts to

learn a new language, he/she brings native language expression habits into new language; it’s

unavoidable. From these data, I find the SLA has a particular step; learner and educators should

follow the step (easy to difficult, present tense to past tense, short sentence to long sentence).

Meanwhile, learners need time to understand a new language habit. We cannot force them to

accept a new habit quickly.

Using usage-based approach to analyze data

According to the major constructs of usage-based approach, constructions range from

simple morpheme to complex syntactic frames. The learner’s brain engages simple learning

mechanism in distributional analyses of the exemplars of a form-meaning pair. Much of

language use is formulaic, which means students recycle phrasal constructions that they have

memorized from prior use (Wulff, 2008). Both Japanese and Norwegian student repeat and

consult sentence patterns in L1 or correct patterns in L2 that they have made. Language learning

is a process in which language emerges as a complex and adaptive system from the interaction of

simple cognitive learning. From the data, we can see that Japanese and Norwegian learn

questions from simple present tense to more complex structures.