Seminar from the Department of Language and Linguistics
Where does language aptitude come from? Relationships among L1 ability, L2 aptitude, and L2 achievement
Richard Sparks (Mount St. Joseph University, Cincinnati, U.S.).
In this seminar, I will examine the evidence for relationships among L1 (first language) ability, L2 (second language) aptitude, and L2 achievement. I present the position that L1 ability is the primary origin for L2 aptitude and ultimate L2 achievement, and that language aptitude is relevant for both formal learning situations and acquisition settings. I review Peter Skehan’s seminal research on L1-L2 relationships from which the title of the paper is drawn and summarize research showing that individual differences in L1 ability are universal, can be identified early, and are stable over time. Next, I review my group’s research on L1-L2 connections over 30+ years, focusing on our numerous longitudinal studies. Then, I describe my newest studies examining the relationship between L1 achievement and L2 aptitude on the MLAT (Modern Language Aptitude Test). I conclude by proposing answers to the question posed in the title.