Young EFL students’ reliance on path-breaking verbs in the use of English argument structure constructions

Volume 18
Issue 3
Hyunwoo Kim, Haerim Hwang, Yangon Rah
This study investigates the extent to which young EFL students rely on path- breaking verbs in the comprehension and production of English argument structure constructions. In a sentence-sorting task, Korean EFL learners in grades 7 and 10 sorted English sentences, which were created by crossing four verbs with four constructions, into same groups according to overall sentence meaning and form. The results showed dominant verb-oriented sorting in grade 7, and more construction-biased sorting in grade 10 when the sentence included a path-breaking verb. In a written production task, Korean EFL students from grades 4 to 7 wrote a book report in English after a 4-week extensive reading program. The results demonstrated the more dominant use of path-breaking verbs in the ditransitive and resultative constructions than in the caused-motion construction. We discuss these findings in terms of usage-based perspectives of constructional learning.

Keywords: Path-breaking verb, argument structure construction, usage- based learning, young EFL student