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DANH MỤC NGHIÊN CỨU KHOA HỌC TỔ THỰC HÀNH TIẾNG 3 1. Nguyen Thi Bich Diep: A Pilot Study on Inter-language Variation: Copula BE in written Vietnamese – English 2. Hoàng Thị Hồng Hải và Cấn Thuỳ Linh: Nghiên cứu về việc sử dụng giáo trình Inside Out và nhu cầu xây dựng tài liệu bổ trợ phục vụ giảng dạy kỹ năng Nói cho sinh viên năm thứ 3. 3. Phạm Thị Hạnh MA., Nguyễn Thúy Lan BA., Bùi Ánh Dương MA.: NGHE HIỂU: Sinh viên năm 3 Khoa Anh đã sẵn sàng cho CAE? 4. Phạm Minh Hiền M.A,Phạm Mai Hương M.A, Lê Bạch Yến, M.A: Tạo động lực và phát triển kỹ năng đọc hiểu cho sinh viên giai đoạn nâng cao Khoa Sư phạm Tiếng Anh thông qua Đọc rộng 5. Nguyễn Hoàng Lan: Strategies for correcting the Sentence Structure error in third-year Vietnamese students’ paragraph writing 6. Lâm Thị Phúc Hân. M.A; Lê Thuý Hoà. M.A, Nguyễn Thanh Giang. M.A; Lê Phương Hoa. M.A: Motivational factors for writing 7. Th.S. Quách Ngọc Anh: Đánh giá của sinh viên về chương trình “Việt Nam trong con mắt người nước ngoài” – Một số gợi ý nhằm nâng cao hứng thú của sinh viên đối với chương trình phát triển kỹ năng nói cho sinh viên năm 3. 8. Trần Văn Phương : Khoa học để đi tìm tính cách một dân tộc 9. Nguyễn Thu Hiền (PPGDTA), Phạm Minh Tâm (PPGDTA), Nguyễn Thị Thúy ( Tiếng Anh 3): Một số lưu ý về việc khai thác sử dụng tài liệu thực trong giảng dạy ngoại ngữ 10. Phan Thị Hoàng Yến M.A: NĂNG LỰC CẢM XÚC VỚI NGHỀ DẠY NGOẠI NGỮ VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH PEDAGOGY DIVISION III A Pilot Study on Inter-language Variation: Copula BE in written Vietnamese – English NAME: NGUYEN THI BICH DIEP Table of contents 1. Introduction 3 1.1 Aim 3 2. Theoretical background 4 2.1 Different approaches to SLA 4 2.2 Methods of Sociolinguistics approaches to SLA 5 2.3 Inter-language variation in Asian’s English acquisition 2.4 Copula be in Vietnamese 6 3. Data and Methodology 5 3.1 Data 5 3.2 Data collection and analysis method 6 4. Data Analysis 6 9 5. Conclusion 10 References 11 Appendices 12 1. Introduction Second Language Acquisition (SLA) has developed as a branch of linguistics to analyze the process that people apply actively to learn other languages (L2) in addition to their mother tongue (L1). SLA focuses on the learners and the learning method and only involves pedagogy if the teaching influences on the acquisition course (Gass and Selinker 2000. 2). SLA researchers, through many approaches, try to account for the situation where people are able to acquire L2 at different rates and levels but their L2 can rarely be as fluent as their L1. The approaches are classified into “three broad categories: linguistics approaches, sociolinguistics approaches and psychological or cognitive approaches” (Towell and Hawkins 1994. 4). Sociolinguistics approaches become more popular in recent years to concentrate on two main themes involving learners’ attitude toward the L2 and the context in which learners acquire the L2 (Towell and Hawkins 1994. 4). Furthermore, sociolinguistics has examined four main fields of SLA as “inter-language variation, cross-cultural communication, conversational phenomena and social identity” (Young 1999. 106). Being discussed more in the later parts of the essay, the sociolinguistics approaches and their methods play the core role in this pilot study mainly because it is the field that I feel secure to have a closer look with my data analysis. Besides, my special interest in the relationship between language and society has led to the fact that I would like to figure out the impact of the society- the context on the language generally and the second language acquisition specifically. The most obvious field for me to look at is inter-language variation since currently it has the strongest link with my teaching at school. I decided to choose Vietnamese because my native language is still “a mystery, an unknown story” to most of my colleagues from other countries and continents except my Chinese and Indochinese counterparts. I hope to bring my mother tongue into more international context and for the first step I chose the simple BE in this pilot study. 1.1 Aim and scope The research investigates to be in pieces of writing by young Vietnamese students learning English at elementary level with two different backgrounds. This is not an error analysis but the study surveys the errors that those two groups made with the verb to be to identify the inter-language variations that the learners may have when acquiring English with distinguishing points in their motivation and language input. The first group have a passion for learning English plus a dream of studying overseas and hunt for chances to communicate with native speakers while the second one lack of the motivations and only talk to their native speaker teacher after being pushed to talked during the class time. In short, the essay attempts to answer two research questions 1) which group of young Vietnamese students have more BE errors in their writing? and 2) what are the possible reasons for the variations? 2. Theoretical Background 2.1 Different approaches to SLA To understand a certain kind of approaches such as sociolinguistics ones, it is necessary to see the “whole picture” of SLA by reviewing briefly other approaches. Linguistics approaches base mainly on the assumption that people are born with the ability to ‘take’ their L1 naturally and when they learn L2s, they just “transfer the forms and meanings, and the distribution of forms and meanings of their native language and culture to the foreign language and culture” (Lado 1957. 2 in Gass and Selinker 2000. 65). The combination of this early approaches and behaviorism in 1950s resulted in the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis emphasizing on the ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ language habit transfer from L1 to L2 and identifying the ‘potential errors’ in language comparison (Gass and Selinker 2009. 96). Then, SLA was realized not to be just the habit formation and transfer; moreover, the number of errors found was too small in comparison with the number made by L2 learners. Gradually the attention was shifted to the “staged development and systematicity’ and Natural Order Hypothesis lying in morpheme studies were developed (Towell and Hawkins 1994. 18-23). Later, Krashen denied the order of grammatical structures in SLA and gave the Input hypothesis and Affective Filter hypothesis which discussed the L2 input and ‘affective variables’ that could affect learners’ L2 acquisition (Schutz 2007). Cognitive approaches show the achievements of psychology linguistics who depend on qualitative analyses to use the description of how the brain works to process information to explain L2 acquisition. Naturally, everything we know about the world is meaningfully arranged and connected and the new things we learn are influenced by ‘our perceptual apparatus and our perceptual history’ and so is language. Specifically, cognitive linguistics pay the most attention to syntax and syntax building in learners’ ‘experience’ and ‘embodiment’ during their whole life of acquiring second languages (Ellis 1999. 25). Chomsky, basing on child language acquisition, launched the theory of Universal Grammar (UG) about the common grammar aspects shared by all kinds of language. UG has recently been applied in SLA with the inter-language grammar access (White 2009. 9) and more developed with a reference to language diversity to reduce the influences of ‘ethnocentrism’ - the major number of cognitive linguistics researchers can only use some European languages sharing many similar points in structure (Evans and Levison 2009. 430). Sociolinguistics approaches represent the relationship between social context and SLA, one of which is Tarone’s approach in 1980s. Tarone considered the L2 acquired by learners as the “continuum of grammar” from the lowest to the highest level (from “vernacular style” to careful style” as she called in the following diagram) and variability can be observed through the “style shifting” along the capability continuum (Towell and Hawkins 1994. 34-36). Vernacular style (more pidgin-like) Unattended speech data Style 2 Attended speech data Style 3 Style 4 Style n Various elicitation task: elicited imitation, sentence combining etc. Figure 2.1 Inter-language capability continuumw (Tarone 1988. 41 cited in Towell and Hawkins 1994. 34) Careful style (more TL/NL-like Grammatical intuition data Another approach was raised by Ellis who did not share the same idea with Tarone. Through his study of Zambian English, Ellis discussed the “free and systematic variation” allowing much more variable rules which can only be found in L2 learners’ grammar and cannot be found in TL grammar. The free variation includes the rules occurring randomly in all kinds of contexts while the systematic one refers to the rules that can come only in certain contexts; and none of them follow the “capability continuum” (Towell and Hawkins 1994. 36-37). This is also the particular approach implemented in this essay for the analysis of to be in Vietnamese English. 2.2 Methods of Sociolinguistics approaches to SLA According to Young (1999. 107-109), two main methods have been applied to analyze the interaction between context and SLA. The first way bases on quantitative approach with “enough set of data” to identify the “likelihood of co-occurrence of a variable form and any one of the contextual features we are interested” (Young and Bayley 1996. 253 cited in Young 1999. 107). This method is traditionally used with many studies on inter-language variation. The second way was called “hermeneutic approach” implementing on not only quantitative analysis but also “learner’s diaries and case studies” involving the experiences that the researchers themselves have collected in their whole life as L2 learners. Recently, this method has been regarded as the major trend for researches in sociolinguistics approaches to SLA, especially in “discourse analyses of cross-culture communication” (Young 1999. 108). 2.3 Inter-language variation in Asian’s English acquisition About the researches on English acquisition by Asian, Rau, Chang and Torone (2009) focused on the inter-dental fricative was chosen as the best substitute for by Chinese students to find out that [s] by both Taiwanese and Chinese learners (Rau et 2009. 582). Also, the result constructed a hypothesis that “immediate phonetic environment and speech style accounted for the accurate production of ”; the high level students with good pronunciation of the inter-dental fricative implemented the “monitoring strategies” while their lower level counterparts relied on “phonetic salience strategies” (Rau et 2009. 581). Besides, another study was conducted by Bayley (1996) on the cutting of final [t] and [d] in English by Chinese inhabitants in California. Its result showed that the frequency of final [t/d] deletion among the speakers involving themselves in “mixed Chinese and American social network” was much less regular than among those who communicated mainly with other Chinese in their community (Bayley 1996 cited in Young 1999. 110). Despite their dominance in inter-language variation researches, phonetic and phonology are not the only fields that language variables can be found (Plat et 2007: 217). In lexicology and syntax, variables in English language acquisition by Asian learners have been and will also be identified with this study as an example. 2.4 Copula be in Vietnamese The most important copula in Vietnamese is “ ” usually translated as “be” in English and “ ” and mainly used in “as the copula verb with nominal predicate and as a complementizer-like element” (Duffield 2009). While “be” is compulsory in non-verbal clause in standard English, “ ” can rarely be found in adjectival predicate, and be replaced with “ ” in locative predicate. The normal structure for Vietnamese copula is NP - - NP to show the equal or identificational relationship between subject and predicate (Clark 1995. 7) (1) Mr. Dang is a genius (nominal predicate) Mr. Dang is free (adjectival predicate) Mr. Dang is in Japan (locative predicate) (2) (3) 3. Participants, Data and Methodology 3.1 Participants This pilot study put an emphasis on the written grammar in English acquisition by young Vietnamese students. To serve the purpose, the data were collected from a small cohort of two classes with 10 students in each class. In comparison with the second class, the first class consisted of students with much higher level in English basing on their performance in continuous assessment. Besides, the first group also has much stronger desire for English language, more active in communication with the native speaker teachers, and holds a dream of studying overseas. The brief information about two groups of students participating in the pilot study can be described as the following tables. Group Age Years of Class-contact hours per week learning With Vietnamese With native speaker English at teachers to focus on teacher to focus on school Grammar communication 7 3 hours 3 hours 1 15 2 Table 3.1.1 Similarities in background information of participant Group Passion for English language Other motivation like Active communication studying overseas, better with native speakers jobs, etc. 1 Yes Yes (Very strong) Yes 2 Not really Yes No Table 3.1.2 Differences in background information of participant In the secondary education, all the learners spent about two hours every week in five years in learning English with the same program and textbook designed and controlled by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), employing the grammar-translation pedagogy approach. Most of the interaction among teachers and students were in Vietnamese and all the tests were mainly on grammar. The learners entered the upper-secondary school for four months where they have had class-contact of six hours a week and the common textbook highlighting grammar and four language skills. There the communicative approach is implemented since the native speaker teachers are involved and beside the grammar tests ordered by the MOET, every month, the students take the English competence test in the form of the International English Language Test System (IELTS). 3.2 Data collection and analysis method The data consist of the English copula to be mistakes that the students in their writing about the same topic and under the same conditions of time, space and task requirement. Since this essay serves as the pilot investigation in variables in Vietnamese English by young learners, the qualitative method is suitable for the limited number but still able to give the “detail description of phenomenon” (Nelson and Damico 2006: 635). The data are then presented with tables and charts to compare the level of copula to be accuracy made by two groups of students with a reference to verb and general mistakes, as well as the total length of writings. 4. Data Analysis and Result 4.1 Copula to be errors in young Vietnamese learners’ writing All the errors in young Vietnamese students’ writings were counted and classified into different categories as copula BE, verbs and others shown in the following table. Group Errors in copula BE Errors in verbs Total Writing numbers of Length errors n % Other errors n n (in word number) % % 1 3 38 24 4.6% 58.4% 37% 65 2593 2 17 34 36 19.5% 39% 41.5% 87 1322 Table 4.1.1 Vietnamese students’ errors in written English Generally, under the same condition and topic, group 1 tended to write as twice as long as group 2 whereas making less mistakes. For both groups, most of the errors were found in the use of verbs and copulas, which were 63% and 58.5% for group 1 and group 2 respectively. In terms of copula BE, group 2 exceeded group 1 in both number and percentage. To highlight the comparison between the two groups, the data are then presented with the bar chart showing the number of errors. While the numbers of mistakes of Verbs and Others are rather equal (38-34, 24-36), a very clear distinction can be seen in copula BE. The whole groups 1 made only 3 errors but their counterparts in group 2 made 17 ones. 38 40 36 34 35 30 24 25 20 Group 1 Group 2 17 15 10 5 3 0 Copula to be Verbs Others BE Chart 4.1.1 Differences in the number of errors in young Vietnamese learners’ writing BE Group 1 Group 2 Chart 4.1.2 Differences in the percentage of errors in young Vietnamese learners’ writing The pie charts illustrate the percentage of each kind of errors found in the writing of the two groups. Among all the mistakes, copula BE accounts for only 4.6% in group 1 and 19.50% in group 2. For the first group, Verbs covers the majority with 58.4% then Others contributes 37%; for the other group, these figures are rather equal with 39% and 41.5% accordingly. 4.2 Result and discussion The data analysis has answered the two research questions mentioned in the earlier part of this essay. More errors in copula BE were made by the second group of students with lower level in English competence, lack of passion for English and less activeness in communicating with their native speaker teachers. For both groups, the inflectional morpheme mistakes predominated in writing. The reasons for the phenomena can be explained with the basic difference between Vietnamese and English. Vietnamese is an isolating language which lacks of “all the inflectional affixes of person, number, tense, and aspect as well as systematic word derivation process” (Evans and Levison 2009. 434); as a result the young Vietnamese learners find it very difficult to give the correct forms of the verbs and copulas they use. Most of the times, the students of group 2 cannot give the correct form of the singular third person verbs and the mistakes like “my mother is always love me” (Group 2, student 2) can be easily found. Moreover, in Vietnamese, people normally do not put copulas between subject and adjectival predicate (Clark 1995. 7) so the low level students, being influenced by their mother tongue, make many mistakes like “she always beautiful, she thin” (Group 2, student 4). Then, the results of other studies investigating variations in English acquisition by Asian learners confirmed the hypothesis that the students can get rid of copula BE errors (and other kinds of errors as well) when they improve their English competence and have more input from communication with native speakers. According to Rau, Chang and Torone (2009), the Chinese students with higher English proficiency and “more consistent input on a single norm from native speakers” produced more accurate and limited their variants to [s] while the Taiwanese students made much more variants of (such as , [d] and deletion) due to their lower level in English and the language input from peers “whose output contains a range of errors” (Rau et 2009. 602-603). Another contribution of this essay is proving the importance of students’ passion for English (as a subject at school) and their motivation to learn the L2. Even when both groups of students have the same class contact with the same native speaker teachers, which means the same quality of language input, the lower level and less motivated group 2 still have many errors generally in their writing and particularly in copula BE. Furthermore, the better language input cannot assure an improvement in either students’ writing or their performance if the students are not willing to play active roles in communicating with their native speaker teachers. 5. Conclusion By answering the two research questions, the essay has fulfilled the role of identifying inter-language variation in written Vietnamese - English by focusing on the copula BE as one of the most effective indicators of Vietnamese students’ levels in English acquisition. For pedagogy purposes, the analysis puts the copula BE and inflectional morphemes into consideration of both Vietnamese and international teachers working in this particular context to help their young local learners overcome the negative transfer of their isolating mother tongue. Also, the teachers should concentrate on building the students’ learning motivation and activeness, which seems to be the key point in their success in L2 acquisition. The essay can be considered a pilot study- the first step that will be farther developed in the future with a deeper and wider examination basing on quantitative method and the help of SPSS. It provides me the confidence to conduct some future researches to discover the inter-language variants in Vietnamese English in morphology, lexicology, phonetics, phonology, syntax, and discourse analysis to fulfill my dream of putting my Vietnamese into more international context. References Clark, M. 1995. 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