whether there is a disparity between native speaker and second language speaker
due to L1 influence on L2, the research design will focus on tense and aspects
usage in English, especially on simple past and present perfect.
is a medium through which human beings express their ideas, exchange
information, and form their cognitive landscape. By probing into one language,
it gives us clues on how people who speak that language view the world.
However, for people who are trying to learn such communicative medium as a
second language might have hard time achieve a full understanding of such
cognitive sense, regardless of their linguistic proficiency, due to their
preexisting L1 and its system of processing the world. This deficiency act as a
hindrance for ESL speakers from using certain linguistic functions.
and aspects reflect the way speakers think of time. It is a grammatical device
to describe the time span and the order of incident, ‘indicate both the time of
the action expressed by the verb’ and ‘the speaker’s view on the of that action
in time’ (Cowan 2008). It is used to present the situation that happened and the
hidden intention of such affair (Park 2015). Although expressed in various
ways, it mainly appears in a verb with inflection or auxiliary verb and through
the effective application of the tense to the verb, it will lead to more
accurate visualization and understanding of the speaker’s intention.
that is contained in a verb ‘expresses the time that an action occurs in
relation to the moment of speaking’ (Cowan 2008). Researchers usually say that
tense of English can be divided into two categories, the present and the past,
and the future is represented periphrastically, meaning it is represented with a
help of auxiliary verb. Furthermore, people can use time signaling adverbs or
prepositional phrases to enrich the meaning.
how ‘the speakers view the action of the verb’ (Cowan 2008). The example could
be perfect(an action that is complete), imperfect(the action that is not
complete), iterative(the action that is repeated), habitual(the action that
occurs regularly), etc. Two aspects, progressive and perfect, in English is
revealed through auxiliary verbs and the form of main verbs. Like those two
aspectual meanings are retained in such form, different languages have their
own distinctive methods to show the aspects and these devices cover the different
area of aspect.
than tense and aspect, there is another medium to deliver the idea of time
called lexical aspect. It makes the discrepancy between meaning, which may end
up changing the interpretation of the reader. The verbs in this viewpoint can
be divided into stative verbs, which indicate situation rather than the motion,
and dynamic verbs, which depicts the action taken by the subject. Regardless of
the categories, some verbs can be relevant to both sides.
In The Teacher’s Grammar of English written
by Cowan(2008), it explains about the wall that ESL and EFL students face when
they are acquiring the tense and aspect. He points out three influential
factors for such obstacles: the lexical aspect of verbs, the influence of L1,
and the input that students received in a formal setting. To tell the effect of
L1 to L2 tense and aspect learning, he gives 3 examples from different L1
backgrounds. Firstly, from Collins study in 2002, French L1 speakers who are
trying to learn English showed a tendency to use present perfect forms where
the simple past forms are necessary as the appropriate answer in French(passé composé)
is similar to present perfect in English. For some language, like Chinese,
verbs are not inflected to express the tense. The experiment done to Chinese
ESL learners indicate that they use ‘bare infinitive forms’ when inflection is
needed. German can be another example to demonstrate L1 influence to L2 since
it has only one tense that is correspondent to two tenses in English. They use
simple present to both simple present and present progressive in English,
causing the difficulty for German ESLs to learn to distinguish the appropriate
tense choice in English.
In Yang’s research on ‘A Comparison between
Aspectual Markers of English and Korean’ (2002), how English and Korean language
convey aspect, especially the perfect aspect, differs in their forms. When
English signify aspect through rather precise and overt marker of ‘have + p.p.’
for perfect or ‘be + ~ing’ for progressive, Korean do not specifically have one
on one corresponding marker for the aspect. It uses periphrasis and adverbs
with no fixed forms to make up for the absence. As for the lexical aspect,
English and Korean seem to use similar verbs to deliver speaker’s view of the action.
However, in both language, verbs that are used to indicate each aspect are also
applied to other different aspectual expressions depending on the context and
the situation. Therefore, we can say that the natives of each language assert
their intuitive power to distinguish the aspect in the verbs.
to Park(2015) in ‘A Study on Korean EFL University Learners’ Use of the English
Present Perfect and the Simple Past’, she conducted a study on Korean ESL students’
usage of past and present perfect. Park tested university students with
questions about tense, dividing them by their English proficiency level, and
compared the results with the native English speakers who were also tested by
the same material. The outcome of this experiment shows that Korean English
learners got the lower rate of correct answers than ENL in overall and that ESL
students got the higher percentage of wrong answers in specific types of
present perfect, resulting in the wider gap with ENLs. She also analyzed the
rate of incorrect answers, finding out that Korean EFL learners showed
undergeneralization on present perfect if the stative verb is in the sentence.
However, Park’s study has its limitation from using grammar test to see whether
Korean ESLs really do lack their understanding of English tense and aspect
system, since the students might just be well trained to solve the grammar
questions rather than having the full comprehension.
hypotheses of our experiment are 1) People whose English is native language
will use more various types of tense and aspect combinations in their sentences
than Korean whose L2 is English, 2) the gap between simple past tense usage and
present perfect will be bigger in Korean ESLs than ENLs.
if ESL really avoid such tense and aspect which are different from their L1, the
research can be done by analyzing and comparing the newspaper articles between
one written by native English journalist and the other by Korean journalist
whose second language is English. The two articles that are concerned with the same
topic will be picked and the genre of the texts will be limited to informative
rather than assertive like editorials or opinion. The reason for choosing news
articles as an object of investigation is because writers are looking at the
same events and explaining them through their own language process. To study if
ESLs really have limited usage of tense and aspects, the texts should be the result
of free writing rather than merely translating L1 writing to L2. The topic that
the articles are dealing with would not matter as the study is mainly focusing
on its time expression shown through inflections. In the articles, there can be
a lot of interviews and quotes. They should be eliminated to see the actual
writing output of the journalists and because when the interview contents are
transformed into reported speech, the tenses of that verbs are backshifted. The
selection of target articles will be implemented enough to say there is a
plausible relationship to back up the hypothesis.
data representing the ESL writing can be collected from The Korea Time and the
ENL from The New York Times. The journalists should also be controlled to make
sure they are representatives of their analysis group – no native English
speaker in Korean news samples. Although it might seem problematic that there
could be ESL journalists in the foreign press, it can be regulated through
their way of recruiting the reporter, choosing the people who they think is
most natural to their linguistic taste. In that sense, it would be more crucial
to eliminate the native English journalists in Korean press.
gathering the articles, the frequency of each tense and aspects usage will be
categorized and counted. The categorization can be divided into twelve: past,
past progressive, past perfect, past perfect progressive, present, present
progressive, present perfect, present perfect progressive, future, future
progressive, future perfect and future perfect progressive. The number of
appearances then will be modified into percentage since the length of both news
result of such experimental design, overall variety of tense and aspect
appearance will be higher for ENL news articles than ESL. Also, information
delivered in the past tense will be seen more frequently than present perfect in
ESL journalists than ENL journalist. This gap between the two can be expected
through the previous studies on how two system of language process time in a different
perspective of Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis(CAH), such hardship of acquiring
the English grammatic sense of time is explainable with the negative transfer of
their L1, Korean. In CAH, there is a notion of positive transfer and negative
transfer – former meaning that some factors which already exists in L1 are
relatively learned easier for L2 and the later vice versa. Since there are some
factors missing or appearing in other special forms in L2, preexisting L1
function as the barrier against acquiring the L2 readily, or negatively
transferred. Korean lack the clear marker for the aspect, making the ESL
learner hesitant when applying present perfect in their L2 writing.
Parameters model assumes the existence of ‘principles’ which are universal
properties of all language in the world. The parameters are the specific choices
that can be taken by a particular language and these choices constitute the
trait of that language. When a person who has already established one’s L1
parameter settings is trying to learn a second language, he or she needs to
reset some of the parameters that are different from L1 accordingly to the target
language. That is the point where one may suffer from learning the L2. Although
the journalists easily mastered simple past as it shows similar parameter setting
with Korean, it might have been hard for them to fully comprehend the perfect
aspect of English which is ambiguous in Korean, making them avoid using rather an
Other than the discussions
on learner’s perspectives, the inputs that are given to them through formal settings
can be pointed out for the reason of such expectations. People learn their L1
without any clear instructions on aspects of language. From the time they were
very young, they just speak out the sentences that contain those functions unconsciously.
They learn about its being when they start to learn English and even in that classes,
the teachings are focused on memorization of the markers and the syntactic
structure than the lexical understandings. The lack of idea on tense an aspect
in L1 and fixed L2 formal settings on memorization may have caused such misuse.
There are a lot of
limitation in the research design. The journalist could have just copied the
Korean news articles, undermining the intent of this experiment of probing the
free writing of the ESLs. Also, it is hard to control the sample journalists to
match the exact definition of ESL. For the tense and aspect itself, as this design
is close to corpus study, we can only look at the apparent, superficial usage.
For example, some simple present tense might be containing the future tense
without any auxiliary verbs. It is also difficult to see the lexical aspects of
As a window to our
mind, language reflects the view of the world, causing the diversity among them.
We have thought of a research design to see if L2 is affected by the preexisting
L1 focusing on the tense and aspect usages of ENL and Korean ESL. After defining
the ideas, previous studies showed the L1 background hinderance on L2, the
difference between Korean and English in aspect perception and how Korean EFL
learners use English present perfect and simple past. To see if those results coincide
with the free writing of ESLs, the research was designed to investigate the
Korean news articles written in the second language, English. The expectations
were made and the plausible explanations were discussed through contrastive
analysis theory, principles and parameters model and the formal instructions. Regardless
of the limitations, the research could demonstrate the limited understanding of
tense and aspect due to their L1.