Influence of L1 Properties and Proficiency on the Acquisition of Gender Agreement
This research investigates the influence of L1 properties and proficiency level on the acquisition of the Spanish gender agreement system. French and English-speaking learners of Spanish participated in the study. Subjects were divided into four different groups considering their L1 (French and English) and their proficiency level (intermediate and advanced). Subjects completed three different tasks: an untimed grammaticality judgment (UGJT) to measure learners’ explicit knowledge, an elicited oral imitation (EOI) and an eye-tracking to assess their implicit knowledge of the Spanish gender agreement system. From this multi-tiered methodology, this research project aimed to examine whether L1 properties and proficiency level influence learners’ explicit and implicit knowledge of the Spanish gender agreement. The results from the UGJT suggest that both French and English learners can notice noun-adjective discord. As for the EOI and eye-tracking tasks, only the French advanced learners clearly demonstrated integrated implicit knowledge of gender agreement. Therefore, based on these results, we can imply that implicit knowledge of gender agreement is acquired later and that L1 properties influence this whole process, even at an advanced proficiency level.