Ultimate attainment in first and second language acquisition

Ewa Dabrowska

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The received opinion among language acquisition researchers is that first language acquisition is uniformly successful, with all learners rapidly converging on the same grammar, while the outcome of second language acquisition is more variable, with most learners failing to attain native-like of competence. However, a growing body of research on individual differences in adult native speakers’ knowledge suggests that language acquisition researchers have tended to underestimate the amount of divergence in L1 morphosyntactic attainment. This paper describes three studies comparing the comprehension abilities of native and non-native English speakers of varying educational backgrounds. The studies tested two constructions, passives and the universal quantifier every. The results show that, although on the whole native speakers perform better than non-natives, the effects of education are considerably larger than the effects of native speaker status, with highly educated non-natives outperforming less educated natives in two of the studies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2012
EventThe JACET 51st International Convention - Aichi, Japan
Duration: 31 Aug 2012 → …


ConferenceThe JACET 51st International Convention
Period31/08/12 → …
Internet address


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