Effects of Age of Arrival on Acquisition of Formulaic Expressions in the Second Language

Irina Vaynshteyn, Diana Van Lancker Sidtis


Little is known about age effects on formulaic language acquisition in second language (L2) learners. This research compared use and comprehension of formulaic expressions (FEs) in English and Russian by two groups of Russian bilingual speakers differing in age of arrival (AoA) to the USA. A critical period perspective predicts better performance in the early than the later group in the second language. Contrary to this expectation, the early arriving group did not perform significantly better than the later arriving group on the English formulaic tasks. They did perform better on the English than the Russian formulaic tasks. The later arriving group scored significantly higher than the early group on all formulaic tasks in Russian, and performed significantly better in Russian than English. Both bilingual groups scored higher on comprehension than production for English. The surprising result, that earlier arrival in the second language country did not significantly benefit formulaic language use, remains to be explained. Linguistic input and brain maturation likely both play important roles in formulaic language acquisition.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/selt.v7n4p391


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