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DOES FIRST LANGUAGE MAINTENANCE HAMPER NATIVELIKENESS IN A SECOND LANGUAGE?

A Study of Ultimate Attainment in Early Bilinguals

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 May 2012

Emanuel Bylund
Affiliation:
Stockholm University and University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Niclas Abrahamsson
Affiliation:
Stockholm University
Kenneth Hyltenstam
Affiliation:
Stockholm University
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Within the field of SLA, the incidence of nativelikeness in second language (L2) speakers has typically been explained as a function of age of acquisition. An alternative interpretation, however, is that L2 learners do not attain nativelike proficiency because of first language (L1) maintenance. This interpretation has nevertheless remained mostly theoretical due to the lack of empirical evidence. This study sets out to address the role of L1 proficiency in L2 ultimate attainment by examining L1 and L2 proficiency in 30 early L1 Spanish–L2 Swedish bilinguals. Language proficiency was assessed through grammaticality judgment tests and cloze tests, and additional data on language aptitude were collected through the Swansea Language Aptitude Test (v.2.0; Meara, Milton, & Lorenzo-Dus, 2002). The results showed positive correlations between nativelike L1 and L2 behavior. Additionally, it was found that language aptitude was positively correlated with nativelike L1 and L2 performance. In view of these findings, it is suggested that (a) L1 maintenance does not hamper L2 nativelikeness and (b) language aptitude is an important factor for bilingual ultimate attainment.

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ARTICLES
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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DOES FIRST LANGUAGE MAINTENANCE HAMPER NATIVELIKENESS IN A SECOND LANGUAGE?
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