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English language attrition and retention in Chinese and Dutch university students

21 October 2010

PhD ceremony: Ms. Xiaoyan Xu, 13.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: English language attrition and retention in Chinese and Dutch university students

Promotor(s): prof. K. de Glopper, prof. K. de Bot

Faculty: Arts

 

Xiaoyan Xu explored English language attrition and retention both in Chinese and Dutch university students during the first two years after their English instruction ceases. English has been instructed as a foreign language for both groups of learners for a comparable length of time, but in two very different language environments. Thus, it is interesting to investigate whether and to what extent these learners could maintain or lose their English knowledge and during this process, what factors play a significant role, including their initial English proficiency, attitudes towards, and contacts with the language.

Attrition has been noticed in the Chinese learners two years after their English instruction ended in all tested skills, including vocabulary, grammar, reading and writing, while the Dutch learners managed to maintain their skills in vocabulary, grammar and reading, but showed attrition in writing skill. One of the main findings in the study is the strong effect of initial language proficiency on proficiency later on in both groups of learners, which is consistent with previous studies, indicating that higher language proficiency helps aiding its retention. The two groups of learners revealed differences in the effects of attitudes towards English on its retention and attrition in that a significant effect was noticed in the Chinese learners, but not in the Dutch. Unexpectedly, the variable of contacts with the language did not explain proficiency in both groups, indicating that the different language environments did not distinguish the groups of English learners in terms of language attrition and retention.

 

 

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.40 p.m.
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