The Extent of EFL Adult Learners Access to UG

  • Published : 2002.09.01


This paper is in line with the attempts to examine two assumptions implied about the role of Universal Grammar (UC) in nonnative language acquisition: Are the EFL learners at disadvantage in acquiring UC-driven knowledge? Are there critical period effects in EFL learning? Based on the research with the seven studies of ESL and EFL adult learners performance on the Subjacency violation sentences, the paper investigates the extent to which the EFL adult learners can attain UG-driven knowledge represented by the Subjacency Principle. It also makes comparison of the EFL learners level of access to UG with that of their counterparts, the ESL learners. The research findings suggests that the EFL environment doesn't prevent the learners from acquiring target grammar in UG domain. That is, the current paper strongly suggests that the EFL adult-learners be able to acquire UG-driven knowledge to a considerable extent, at least as high as the ESL adult learners can attain. For the interpretation of the research results of the seven studies, Constructionist Hypothesis (CH) supported by a Minimalist Program (MP) assumption is employed. CH seems more plausible to account not only for incomplete acquisition observed among the beginning and intermediate level learners but also for the native-like competence acquired by advanced level L2 learners.