L1 influence on the acquisition order of English grammatical morphemes: A learner corpus study

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We revisit morpheme studies to evaluate the long-standing claim for a universal order of acquisition. We investigate the L2 acquisition order of six English grammatical morphemes by learners from seven L1 groups across fi ve profi ciency levels. Data are drawn from approximately 10,000 written exam scripts from the Cambridge Learner Corpus. The study establishes clear L1 infl uence on the absolute accuracy of morphemes and their acquisition order, therefore challenging the widely held view that there is a universal order of acquisition of L2 morphemes. Moreover, we fi nd that L1 infl uence is morpheme specific, with morphemes encoding language-specifi c concepts most vulnerable to L1 influence.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-401
Number of pages37
JournalStudies in Second Language Acquisition
Issue number3
Early online date2 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016