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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractL1 attrition - which in the context of this study is defined as the decline of any native language skill (or portion thereof) in a healthy bilingual speaker (Ecke, 2004) - has been studied extensively for several decades. However, only few studies have examined the native speech of immigrants who use their L1 for professional purposes, such as language instructors (Isurin, 2007; Major, 1992; Porte, 1999, 2003). Furthermore, no research has been conducted comparing the L1 speech of such individuals with that of individuals who do not use their L1 for professional purposes. This study analyzed and compared L1 speech samples from two populations of German immigrants in the U.S., German Instructors and Other Professionals, and from a monolingual control group in Germany. It was hypothesized that German instructors may be less vulnerable to L1 attrition due to more frequent L1 use, a higher motivation to maintain the L1, and greater identification with the native language and culture. Data elicited through verbal fluency tasks, a film retelling task, a semi-structured interview, and a sociolinguistic questionnaire revealed significant differences between the control group and the two bilingual groups which point to L1 attrition (primarily as an access problem) in the bilingual speakers. The data also revealed significant differences between the German Instructors and the Other Professionals, suggesting that the severity of L1 attrition is not the same for all populations. In addition, a comparison of the two bilingual groups with regard to sociolinguistic variables, and correlations between linguistic measures and sociolinguistic variables also yielded interesting findings which have implications for L1 attrition research as well as L1 maintenance.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching