Processing instruction in L2 acquisition of direct object clitics (Elena Shimanskaya, University of Nevada, Reno, United States)
Title: Processing instruction in L2 acquisition of direct object clitics
Keywords: French; clitics; processing instruction
The study looked at the effects of Processing Instruction (VanPatten, 2004) on L2 acquisition of French direct object clitics “le” and “la” by English-speaking learners. In addition to their non-canonical/preverbal position in a sentence (Je le vois. = I see him.), French direct object clitics can be used to refer to both human and non-human antecedents (Je le vois. = I see him./it.). In other words, in French there is no different pronoun that would correspond to English “it” and instructional practices rarely focus on this cross-linguistic difference (Shimanskaya & Slabakova, 2017). Processing instruction approach is particularly suitable to teaching this aspect of French grammar because it focuses on training students in correctly interpreting pronouns, under the assumption that target-like interpretation will eventually lead to target-like production.
One hundred students in their second semester of college French were randomly assigned to three conditions:
(i) training in using clitics’ gender with animate antecedents (Je le vois. = I see him. vs. Je la vois. = I see her.);
(ii) training in using clitics’ gender with inanimate antecedents (Je le vois. vs. Je la vois. = I see it.);
(iii) training in using clitics with animate and inanimate antecedents (Je le vois. = I see him. vs. I see it.).
Participants completed a pre-test, a grammar tutorial online and a post-test. They also filled out a c-test as an independent measure of their French proficiency. Data analysis is currently underway and will focus on comparing post-test scores across the three treatment groups. I will further discuss the appropriateness of the processing instruction approach to teaching French object pronouns and their interpretation.