The role of input in early second language acquisition: A study of the long-term effects of initial extra English input on Norwegian 4th graders' receptive vocabulary
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This study aims to investigate the long-term effects of initial extra English input in early second language learners on receptive vocabulary. It builds on a study conducted by Dahl & Vulchanova (submitted), where a group of Norwegian pupils in their first year of English instruction received systematic extra English (EE) input in and outside English classes, but within the school environment and without increasing teaching hours. Compared to a group in a different school where only normal English (NE) input was provided, the EE input group showed a substantial growth in vocabulary size throughout the school year (Dahl & Vulchanova, submitted). The systematic extra English input focus was discontinued after the pupils' second year of schooling. The current study tested the receptive vocabulary of the EE exposure group and that of a NE exposure group two years after the discontinuation of the EE input focus. 44 monolingual children in two schools were tested using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (Dunn & Dunn, 2007). The results indicate that, contrary to the development seen in 1st grade, the two groups now develop at a similar and almost parallel rate in terms of receptive vocabulary. Although the EE exposure group retains a slightly higher mean raw score, an ANOVA analysis shows that the difference in raw score of the two groups is not statistically significant. Based on reports from parents, the ANOVA was also conducted to investigate whether external factors of input such as media exposure and stays in countries where English is an official language had an impact on the pupils' receptive vocabulary. The analysis did not yield any statistically significant results. The results suggest that it is indeed the discontinuation of the EE input that has resulted in the change of receptive vocabulary development, and that the initial vocabulary boost the EE exposure group's participants obtained in 1st grade does not seem to provide a lasting advantage.