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Abstract

This study analyzes two groups of young adult native English speakers of L2 Chinese. One group consisted of beginner level students and the second group was comprised of intermediate/advanced level students. Both groups were administered acceptability tasks in three linguistic areas: syntax, morphosyntax, and semantics. It was hypothesized that students at the beginning level would have good mastery of measure words and semantic differences of lexemes (ren shi 认识and zhi dao 知道 and ke yi 可以, hui 会, neng 能), some mastery of syntax, and little to no mastery of aspectual markers le 了and guo . It was hypothesized that students at the intermediate/advanced level would have strong mastery of measure words, lexemes, and syntax, and partial mastery of le and guo. Both groups’ answers were compared to those of a native speaker control group. It was found that English speakers in both the beginner and intermediate/advanced groups comparatively had greater mastery of syntax and measure words (morphosyntax) while they both struggled with le and guo aspectual marker structures. Additionally, in this study lexemes had the greatest amount of variation in all groups. It is hoped that this kind of research will help shed light on what linguistic areas are more difficult for native English speakers to learn, therefore helping scholars devise more effect teaching methods for these topics.

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