Hang Du presenting in front of a slide show on a large monitor

Hang Du: Linguistic Development during Study Abroad: Research on a corpus of spoken learner Chinese

Research investigating the effect of study abroad on the development of grammatical accuracy has produced conflicting results. Using corpus linguistics research methods—yet to be used more extensively in Second Language Acquisition research—this study investigated students’ acquisition of grammatical accuracy and lexical development during study abroad in China on data from a subgroup of 62 students in a corpus of over one million characters of transcribed spoken learner Chinese produced by 83 American college students who studied in China for a semester or academic year. Results show that the students made significant progress in their accuracy of using the perfective aspect marker le; they used more sophisticated vocabulary; and for the two words that mean “but” in English, they shifted from using the less frequent word kěshì to the more frequent dànshì, towards the native norm. The significance of such research and pedagogical implications will be discussed.

Hang Du joined Middlebury’s Chinese Department in 2004 and also is active in Middlebury’s program in linguistics. Her language teaching includes over 15 years’ experience teaching beginning Chinese, second-year Chinese, and senior seminars about contemporary Chinese culture and society for students who have returned from study abroad in China, using all authentic material written/produced by and for the Chinese people. Her main research area is the acquisition of Chinese as a second language. 

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