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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Hispanic Literatures & Linguistics

Year Degree Awarded

2016

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Luiz Amaral

Second Advisor

Carole Cloutier

Third Advisor

Glaucia Silva

Subject Categories

Spanish Linguistics

Abstract

The current project contributes to the growing body of research in second language acquisition that investigates the facilitative effects of drawing learner attention to problematic aspects of linguistic input through input enhancement. Specifically, the research examines the extent to which input enhancement (Sharwood Smith 1991, 1993) via typographically altered texts facilitates the acquisition of third person dative and accusative clitic pronouns in Spanish for university level native English speakers enrolled in both beginner and advanced levels of Spanish second language courses. A number of past studies have indicated that all verbal clitics have been an obstacle in gaining L2 Spanish proficiency. Prior research has indicated that the most difficult pronominal system for L1 English speakers learning L2 Spanish are the third person dative and accusative clitic pronouns (VanPatten 1984). These students also tend to misinterpret preverbal clitics as subjects (VanPatten 1984).

The significance of the project is twofold. First, it will consider whether input enhancement used to facilitate the identification of referents of anaphoric pronouns aides in the acquisition of the pronouns. Secondly, it examines at which level, beginner or advanced, input enhancement could be most beneficial for the L2 Spanish student. It also takes into account local comprehension, whereas prior input enhancement studies have investigated global comprehension. Furthermore, the results may have a direct impact on future computer technology that could be developed for foreign language instruction as it investigates the effects of this external attention drawing device in a Computer Assisted Language Learning setting. Results of the investigation indicated that input enhancement at the advanced level was successful in aiding L2 Spanish students to comprehend anaphora resolution with third person dative and accusative clitic pronouns in Spanish.

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