The variable acquisition of English tense in Turkish learners of English
Stalker, James C.
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Any language itself is a complex structure, therefore acquisition of any language is highly complex. The fact remains that studying the acquisition process is a relatively complex field. No single process has been proven to account for all of second language acquisition. Ellis' (1985) statement that "second language acquisition is the product of many factors pertaining to the learner on the one hand and the learning situation on the other" (p. 4) explicitly explains the complexity of the acquisition process. The interaction of different learners, different learning styles, and different ways of learning brings about this complexity and diversity as well. Understanding this, researchers attempt to follow an inductive procedure to arrive at general principles. That is, researchers reasoning from findings of previous studies try to identify some aspects of the acquisition process that are common to larger groups of learners. In this respect the interim stages a learner goes through in his interlanguage continuum are of crucial importance in second language acquisition research. This study is concerned with the interim stages of learners in the interlanguage continuum in terms of tense acquisition. In this study American native speakers and Turkish learners of English as a Foreign Language are compared in terms of their abilities to match particular temporal and aspectual references with particular English tenses. The baseline for comparing Turkish nonnative speakers with native speakers is native speakers' responses rather than the knowledge given in English grammar books. The aim of this study was to find out whether Turkish learners from three different language experience levels demonstrate a development in approximating the native speaker responses in accord with their language experience level. In this study the participants were 13 American native speakers and 83 Turkish learners of English from three different levels of language experience. The source of data was a questionnaire in which the participants were asked to match particular English temporal and aspectual references with particular English sentences. The data analysis in this study involved two steps. First, the statistical analysis of differences between American native speakers and the Turkish speaker groups was performed using a one way analysis of variance (ANOVA). In order to explain the patterns of variation, which remain obscure in the results of analysis of variance (ANOVA), the data was analyzed by means of percentages in the second step of the analysis. The results of the study suggest variability in the progression of learning English tenses on the part of students' having different language learning experiences. Yet, the findings of the study are subject to potential limitations. For this reason, the findings of the study cannot be considered as a strong evidence for idiosyncrasy because it does not disprove a stable order