Learners' output proceeds along predictable paths

Target audience: intermediate learners.

Second language learners’ output follows predictable developmental sequences.

For example, regardless of first language background, learners acquire English negation through the following stages (reproduced from vanpatten2015introduction: 10):

  1. no + phrase, e.g. No want that,
  2. subject + no + phrase, e.g. He no want that.
  3. don’t, can’t, not may alternate with no, e.g. He can’t/don’t/not want that.
  4. Negation is attached to modal verbs: He can’t do that.
  5. Negation is attached to auxiliaries: He doesn’t want that.

There are also orders of acquistion for certain grammatical structures. For example, English verbal affixes are acquired in the following order:

  1. the -ing suffix
  2. the regular past tense suffix -ed
  3. irregular past tenses, such as went
  4. the 3rd person singular present tense suffix -s

Learners often exhibit U-shaped learning, where they start out doing something correctly, then incorrectly, and finally correctly once again.


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