Is L2 Exposure Always a Strong Modulator of L1 Influence? Evidence from Chinese EFL Learners Acquiring English Collocations

  •  Hanzhong Sun    


Despite the voluminous body of research investigating the role of L1 influence in acquiring L2 collocations, research that examines the extent to which L2 exposure modulates L1 influence is relatively scant. The present study, therefore, aims to address this under-studied issue. To this end, two types of collocations comprising congruent collocations (i.e., collocations which have literal translation equivalents in learners’ L1) and non-congruent collocations (i.e., collocations that do not have L1 literal translation) were used as materials to elicit the potential role of L1 in acquiring L2 collocations. A blank-filling collocation test and an acceptability judgement collocation test were designed and then administered to three groups of Chinese EFL learners differing in L2 exposure, i.e., years of instructions (freshmen, sophomores and juniors), affording the chance to explore the possible relationship between L1 influence and L2 exposure. The findings indicate that (a) L1 had a robust and persistent impact on acquiring L2 collocations at both reception and production level, regardless of the amount of L2 exposure received; (b) with an increase in L2 exposure, receptive/productive congruent and non-congruent collocational knowledge was developed in parallel (from freshman to sophomore), and then plateaued or even decreased (from sophomore to junior), suggesting that L2 exposure may not always be a strong modulator of L1 influence. Possible reasons and pedagogical implications arising from this study are discussed.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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