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VARIABLES IN SECOND LANGUAGE ATTRITION: Advancing the State of the Art

  • Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig (a1) and David Stringer (a1)

Abstract

This article provides a comprehensive synthesis of research on language attrition to date, with a view to establishing a theoretically sound basis for future research in the domain of second language (L2) attrition. We identify the variables that must be tracked in populations who experience language loss, and we develop a general model for the assessment of the processes involved. This critical review suggests that future research in this domain should establish baselines for attainment against which to measure attrition, and that learners must be compared to themselves in longitudinal designs that involve periodic assessment of both linguistic and extralinguistic factors. In the proposed model, populations are defined as sets of variables, which are subject to change following shifts in discrete time periods in the general process of acquisition and attrition. A working model is elaborated for the assessment of L2 attrition and retention, which, we hope, might encourage additional work in this area.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address correspondence to: Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig, Department of Second Language Studies, Indiana University, Memorial Hall 315, 1021 E. Third Street, Bloomington, IN 47405; e-mail: bardovi@indiana.edu; or David Stringer, Department of Second Language Studies, Indiana University, Memorial Hall 315, 1021 E. Third Street, Bloomington, IN 47405; e-mail: ds6@indiana.edu.

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