The Persistence of L1 Patterns in SLA: the Boundary Crossing Constraint and Incidental Learning


  • Amani Alghamdi
  • Michael Daller
  • James Milton



motion events, boundary-crossing, implicit statistical learning, linguistic typology, Arabic speakers of English


Based on the theoretical framework of Talmy (1985 et passim) and Slobin (1987 et passim) the present study analyses the influence of L1 patterns on the description of motion events with boundary crossings. Arab speakers avoid the use of manner of motion verbs in the description of these events and use simple path verbs (e.g. enter, go etc.), whereas speakers of English mostly use manner verbs (run, crawl etc.). These deeply engrained differences between L1 and L2 are a learning challenge in SLA. We analyse the use of manner verbs by an intermediate and an advanced group of Arab EFL learners, who live in the UK. Most learners either avoid the description or use path verbs as in Arabic. As the learners do not produce ungrammatical sentences, they will not receive negative feedback (e.g. from a teacher) and rely entirely on incidental learning from the input. However, despite the high frequency of these manner verbs in the daily input of the learners, they do not acquire the patterns of the target language even at a high proficiency level. Implicit learning in this context is hardly possible and explicit teaching and learning is needed to overcome the influence of the first language.


Download data is not yet available.