The acquisition of discourse markers through study abroad in Spanish L2 learners' oral narratives
Mauffray, Erin Rebeccah
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Discourse markers (DMs) are invariable linguistic elements existing outside of syntax with the function of guiding and organizing speech. The felicitous use of DMs improves an L2 learners’ discourse competence, making DMs an ideal target for studies on second language pragmatics acquisition. Previous studies found that exposure to a target language environment alone can improve L2 learners’ pragmatic capabilities. This study addresses the effects of study abroad on the use of DMs in a group of L1 English, L2 Spanish learners’ oral narratives. Using the functions of the prevalent English so as a point of departure, this study compares L2 learners’ and native speakers’ oral narratives, analyzing DMs according to type, phrase position, and function. L2 learners in this study overused DMs when compared to native speakers. After a study abroad experience, learners employed fewer DMs to fill gaps, showing a decrease in hesitation and a step toward more native-like use of DMs.