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THE ROLE OF FREQUENCY IN SLA: AN ANALYSIS OF GERUNDS AND INFINITIVES IN ESL WRITTEN DISCOURSE

Abstract

The development of constructional schemas is based on frequency of input and output. Research demonstrating frequency as a significant factor in second language acquisition (SLA), however, has been limited (e.g. Ellis, 2002; Larson-Freeman, 2002). This study adds to the literature on SLA from a functional linguistics framework. We analyzed infinitive and gerund constructions in English by native speakers of Spanish because studies of gerunds and infinitives in SLA are relatively rare. Furthermore, L2 speakers of English often confuse these two constructions. Infinitives are high-frequency constructions in both English and Spanish. Conversely, gerund constructions are of low-frequency in English, occurring at a rate of less than 1% in the BNC, and do not generally exist in Spanish. This seemed a promising place, therefore, to test the relationship of frequency and error production in ESL students. The results demonstrated a significant difference in frequency of use. The findings demonstrate that frequency does indeed play an important role in SLA. We conclude by suggesting ways of incorporating this finding into second language acquisition curriculum.

How to Cite

Schwartz, M. & Causarano, P. L., (2007) “THE ROLE OF FREQUENCY IN SLA: AN ANALYSIS OF GERUNDS AND INFINITIVES IN ESL WRITTEN DISCOURSE”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 14, p.43-57.

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Michael Schwartz (University of New Mexico)
Pei-ni Lin Causarano (University of New Mexico)

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