Availability of UG Economy Principle in Persian EFL Learners and Its Implication for Teaching English as a Foreign Language

By Fariba Rahimi Esfahani and Farshad Kiyoumarsi.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A primary goal of second language acquisition research is to determine the linguistic knowledge of learners. How this is done has been of long-standing concern within the field of second language (L2) research. This study is an indirect assessment of availability of Economy Principle of UG in Multiple wh-questions to Persian learners of English through an on-line sentence-matching task. To do so, 60 university students, both male and female, majoring in EFL in Isfahan university were chosen through an Oxford Placement Test (OPT) as the criterion for their selection and divided into three proficiency groups (i.e. 20 Low Intermediate, 20 High Intermediate, and 20 Advanced groups). Moreover, 10 native English speakers from University of Sydney were chosen as the control group in this study. Both English native speakers and Persian EFL learners performed an on-line sentence-matching task .The on-line test contained 40 pairs of English sentences, 20 matching grammatical pairs which observed the UG Economy Principle and 20 matching ungrammatical pairs which violated this Principle. In sentence-matching task students responded to two sentences on a computer screen indicating whether the two sentences were identical or not. The reaction time of EFL learners to both grammatical and ungrammatical pairs was measured and compared to that of English native speakers. The results revealed that native speakers of English can do the task faster than non-natives. Thus, Economy Principle is not accessible to second language learners to the same extent that it is to first language learners. Moreover, the more proficient groups were faster than the less ones in sentence-matching task. As the proficiency increased, the results got much closer to the results of native speakers. Therefore, proficiency can be considered as a strong factor for UG activation. Given these findings, language education which promotes UG activation is encouraged.

Keywords: Economy Principle, Universal Grammar, Sentence-matching Task, EFL Learners, Linguistic Knowledge

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.010MB).

Fariba Rahimi Esfahani

University Faculty Member, English Department, Islamic Azad University-Shahrekord Branch, Shahrekord, Chaharmahal, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Fariba Rahimi Esfahani a faculty member in Azad University of Shahrekord (Iran) and PhD student majoring in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

Dr. Farshad Kiyoumarsi

Faculty Member, Computer Department, Islamic Azad University-Shahrekord Branch, Shahrekord, Chahar Mahal, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

University Faculty Member in Islamic Azad University Shahrekord.


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