Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Language teaching

An Investigation into English Attrition among College Students of Non-English Majors in Chinese Context

Author ZhangLi
Tutor MaLin
School Harbin Institute of Technology
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords second language attrition influencing variables initial proficiency gender language learning strategy
CLC H319
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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Language attrition is a process which accompanies language acquisition, for language acquisition not only includes the process of“learn and get”, but also includes the process of“forget and lose”. Language attrition has been understood as“the loss of any language or any portion of language by individual or speech community”(Lambert & Freed, 1982, p.1). In the current study, it refers to the phenomenon that a language user’s ability of using one specific language regresses with time due to cease or reduction of use. Language attrition can be generally classified into first language attrition and second language attrition. The current study is an empirical study on attrition of English as a second language in Chinese context.In the last few decades, research on second language attrition has been a heated issue abroad, which has got fruitful achievement. However, domestic research on this issue is still in its beginning. Most of the articles until now are introductory. In the context of Chinese, to efficiently avoid and reduce English attrition is an important aspect for good English acquisition. So research on second language attrition has great significance for both English learning and teaching in China.Using CET-4 examination as the testing instrument, the current study did empirical research among senior university students of non-English majors to explore their English attrition 18 months after they finished their formal study in class and discussed some influencing variables of language attrition such as initial proficiency, gender and learning strategy.The data in the study were analyzed by SPSS16.0. The results of the study were as follows: (1). there was attrition happening during the past 18 months; among the linguistic skills tested in the CET-4 examination, listening, reading and comprehensive knowledge have been significantly attrited, while attrition in translation and writing was not significant; (2). there was an inverse relationship between attrition and initial language proficiency; (3). there was no gender difference found in terms of attrition; (4). Proper use of language learning strategies was useful to prevent language skills from attrition.Based on the findings of the current study, the author also gave some suggestions for the maintenance of second language skills, which were hopefully helpful for English learning and teaching in Chinese Universities.

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