Slighean gu fileantas: an exploratory study of the nature of proficiency in adult L2 Scottish Gaelic

Carty, Nicola (2015) Slighean gu fileantas: an exploratory study of the nature of proficiency in adult L2 Scottish Gaelic. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the measurement of adult second language (L2) oral proficiency in Scottish Gaelic (henceforth Gaelic). Gaelic is a minority language in Scotland, and is currently the object of a major effort to reverse language shift. Adult L2 users of Gaelic have been identified as key agents in this effort, but some weaknesses in adult Gaelic language-in-education policy are making it difficult for adult L2 users to fulfil this role. One such weakness is the absence of an empirically-derived means of assessing proficiency in Gaelic, through which adult L2 users and their teachers can assess their progress. This project aims to address this weakness. Data from two tasks — an interview and a narrative — performed by adult L2 users of Gaelic are analysed from the perspective of the complexity, accuracy, and fluency framework, as the three main dimensions of proficiency. Data are also analysed for Communicative Adequacy, using raters’ judgements. These data provide the first examination of Gaelic L2 proficiency from the perspective of second language acquisition (SLA) research. Adult L2 users of Gaelic have a wide range of learning experiences and motivations for learning the language. This study also explores these experiences and motivations, and discusses how these relate to proficiency. Results show that individuals’ Gaelic language skills interact in complex and unpredictable ways, depending on the nature of the task being performed. There is some evidence that the interview task encourages complexity and fluency, while the narrative task encourages accuracy at the expense of complexity. Results also show that the Communicative Adequacy rating scale developed for this project is valid and reliable, but that assessments of proficiency are subjective, to a large extent. Finally, the results confirm that adult L2 users of Gaelic draw on a vast range of experiences and are motivated in many different ways to learn the language. The outcomes of the project contribute to existing scholarship on the experiences and motivations of adult L2 users of Gaelic, confirming previous findings. The results also confirm previous findings in second language acquisition research that complexity, accuracy, fluency, and Communicative Adequacy in an L2 interact in complex ways, and that these interactions can be mediated by different task conditions. Finally, the outcomes of this exploratory research serve as the basis for future, more large-scale research into the acquisition of Gaelic as a second language by adults.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: SLA, CAF, motivation, Scottish Gaelic, trade-offs, language learning, communicative adequacy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages > PB1501 Scottish Gaelic Language
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Celtic and Gaelic
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Ó Maolalaigh, Professor Roibeard and Daborn, Doctor Esther
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Ms Nicola Carty
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6376
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 May 2015 08:10
Last Modified: 25 May 2015 12:33
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6376

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