Cross-linguistic influence on Chinese-L2 learners’ acquisition of classifiers

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Jiahuan Zhang


Chinese-L2, Cross-linguistic influence, second language acquisition, dynamic assessment, Age of Acquisition, Learning classifiers


This research aims to investigate cross-linguistic influence (CLI) on Chinese-L2 learners’ acquisition of classifiers. So far, limited empirical studies have concerned themselves with how L1 affects second language acquisition (SLA), specifically in relation to the acquisition of classifiers. Although many theories and hypotheses have predicted that L1 contributes both positive and negative effects to L2 acquisition, this current research will scrutinise the reasons this is so. I conducted a picture-based composition via dynamic assessment. Two participants with contrasting L1 backgrounds were chosen: Sally and Yui, from New Zealand and Thailand respectively. Findings suggest that L1 both facilitates and hinders SLA, where reasons can be explained through the L1–L2 similarities and differences in classifier system as well as L1 syntactic transfer. These mixed results demonstrate that language acquisition is, predominantly, a particularly complicated process in which other factors such as the linguistic environment, age of acquisition (AoA) and individual differences must be considered within the overall analysis.

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