Age of Acquisition Effects in Chinese EFL learners’ Delexicalized Verb and Collocation Acquisition

Miao Haiyan


This paper investigates age of acquisition (AoA) effects and the acquisition of delexicalized verbs and collocations in Chinese EFL learners, and explores the underlying reasons from the connectionist model for these learners’ acquisition characteristics. The data were collected through a translation test consisted of delexialized verb information section and English-Chinese and Chinese-English collocation parts, aiming to focus on Chinese EFL learners’ receptive and productive abilities respectively. As Chinese EFL is a nationally classroom-based practice beginning from early primary school, the pedagogical value and different phases of acquisition are thus taken into consideration in designing the translation test. Research results show that the effects of AoA are significant not only in the learners’ acquisition of individual delexicalized verbs but also in delexicalized collocations. Although learners have long begun to learn delexicalized verbs, their production indicates that early learning does not guarantee total acquisition, because their grasp of delexicalized verbs still stay at the senior middle school level. AoA effects significantly affect the recognition but not the production of collocations. Furthermore, a plateau effect occurs in learners’ acquisition of college-level delexicalized collocations, as their recognition and production have no processing advantages over earlier learned collocations.



Chinese EFL; AoA effects; delexicalized; collocations

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