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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Over the decades, research on heritage language learners has been quite popular, but most studies concern Russian, Spanish and other languages rather than Chinese. The Chinese heritage language learner’s studies focus mainly on K-12 students and their learning motivations, writing characteristics, and identification recognition and those concerned with language acquisition address their vocabulary and verbal Chinese development. There have been very few studies about learning grammar. This study emphasizes on the acquisition of the aspect marker LE among advanced learners.

To investigate the acquisition characteristics of advanced CHL learners, this study adopted the advanced CHL learners as the research group and the advanced CFL learners and native speakers as the control groups. A questionnaire survey was designed to investigate the participants' acquisition abilities. The survey utilized "similar semantics, different contexts, and English similarities" related to the aspect marker LE as the interference factors to investigate comprehension abilities and presented five different situations of using LE to investigate production abilities. There were 198 participants in the survey, and 183 effective questionnaires were collected.

Analysis of the data showed the following results: all three groups of subjects are equally affected by "similar semantics" and "different contexts" in comprehending the meaning of LE. But CHL and CFL learners are more affected by English interference than NS. In the production survey, CHL learners did better than CFL, but not as well as NS. In terms of comprehension on the aspect marker LE, CHL learners did better than CFL, but not as well as NS. The understanding and production abilities of CHL learners in the United States are better than those of CHL learners in China, and the influence of English on both CHL groups is quite similar.

The most important findings of this research are as follows: (1) Even when CHL learners reach the advanced level, they behave nearly native-like at language level, but cannot reach to the level of a native speaker. (2) Advanced CHL learners share similarities with CFL learners in production abilities. (3) The target Chinese language environment has no obvious influence on advanced CHL learners.

The results of this study have the following teaching implications: 1) Students are more likely to acquire LE in context; 2) Students are more likely to understand LE after they have clearly understood the semantic meaning of LE; 3) It would benefit advanced Chinese learners in acquiring LE if their study program could tailor classes for them; 4) If the teachers are explicit in explaining the meaning of LE, students will be more likely to understand the semantic meaning of LE and utilized it correctly.


First Advisor

Zhijun Wang

Second Advisor

Zhongwei Shen

Third Advisor

Yuki Yoshimura