Processing Dutch : A study on the acquisition of Dutch as a second language using Processability Theory as a framework

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Centrum för tvåspråkighetsforskning

Abstract: An ongoing debate within the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) discusses the possibility of universal developmental stages in the interlanguage of second language learners. Processability Theory (PT) is one of the theories that enhances this way of thinking about second language acquisition. The belief is that learners go through the same stages of development when learning a new language. An ongoing process in PT is the construction of these developmental stages for individual languages, but today there is still much work needed in this area. The purpose of this thesis is to construct the developmental stages for Dutch, based on an error analysis of second language learners’ interlanguage. The data was collected from Swedish students learning Dutch on a university level. The students were interviewed once per month, and three times in total, so that no developments in their interlanguage could be missed. The data is processed according to the emergence criterion, resulting in developmental tables of the learners’ progress. The result of these interviews provides for the outline on how one acquires Dutch, and together with a grammatical analysis of Dutch word order procedures and morphology, a developmental hierarchy for the acquisition of Dutch according to PT is constructed.

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