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Title: The Role of Achievement Motivation on the Interlanguage Fossilization of Middle-Aged English-as-a-Second-Language Learners
Written By: Zoran Vujisic
Series Title: LINCOM Studies in Language Acquisition 25
Description:

Second language acquisition (SLA) is seldom entirely successful with adult
learners. It has been suggested that all second language (L2) learners, in
the process of mastering a target language (TL), develop a linguistic
system that is self-contained and different from both the learner’s native
language and the TL. This system is referred to as ‘interlanguage’ (IL). In
the process of SLA, IL evolves into an ever-closer approximation of the TL,
and ideally, a learner’s IL should continue to advance until it becomes
equivalent to the TL. However, it has been observed that somewhere in the
L2 learning process, IL may reach one or more plateaus during which the
development of the IL is delayed or arrested. A permanent cessation of
progress toward the TL is referred to as ‘fossilization’. Researchers in
SLA agree that motivation is one of the key factors influencing
language-learning success and studies suggest that some language learning
motivation may be related to the need for achievement. The purpose of this
research was to establish if adult English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL)
learners are aware of fossilization and, to examine if motivation, and more
specifically achievement motivation (AM), is a factor in IL fossilization.

The participants in this study consisted of 15 ESL learners in Puerto Rico
who had at least eight years of formal ESL training / classroom exposure.
The instrument used to gather information included a questionnaire to
obtain demographical and qualifying data, an ‘English Language Proficiency
Evaluation’ (ELPE) to determine levels of IL fossilization, a ‘Measure of
Achievement Motivation’ (MAM) to ascertain achievement motive, and
individual, group, and follow-up interviews in order to ascertain
perception(s) regarding the role of motivation on fossilization and
perceptions regarding the barriers to achieving TL competency. The research
demonstrated that there is a moderate to strong positive relationship
between IL fossilization and achievement motivation, i.e., high achievement
motive is correlated to TL competency and descending levels of achievement
motive are correlated to ascending levels of IL fossilization.

During the study’s follow-up interviews, the 14 participants with IL
fossilization were individually provided negative cognitive feedback
related to the fossilized items of their speech. These participants were
re-tested 6 months later to determine if the corrective feedback provided
in those interviews resulted in participants taking any action towards (1)
diminishing or overcoming IL fossilization and (2) achieving TL competency.
The findings have significant implications for both ESL learning and
instruction, and suggest that not all IL fossilization is permanent.

Publication Year: 2009
Publisher: Lincom GmbH
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
Issue: All announcements sent out by The LINGUIST List are emailed to our subscribers and archived with the Library of Congress.
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Versions:
Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9783895861932
Pages: 187
Prices: Europe EURO 62.00