Background of the Study The study of language attrition has recently emerged as a new field of study. The conception of loss in language skills occurred in a conference at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in 1980. In literature, the term 'language loss' and 'language attrition' have been used interchangeably, where Language attrition is supposedly applicable to language loss. This is because language loss suggests that linguistic information is totally removed from the memory of an individual, whereas in language attrition, linguistic information becomes inaccessible to the individual. Inaccessibility is a matter of degree and the degree hinges on various reasons such as proficiency levels, social, effective and other personality factors. For language maintenance, forgetting or losing language skills is defined as a problem in recent decades.
This taxonomical framework is proposed by Van Els (1986) within which this language attrition research will be conducted. The study on language attrition has been classified into the following categories:
L1 loss in L1 environment: Dialect loss
L1 loss in L2 environment: Immigrant
L2 loss in L1 environment: Foreign language attrition
L2 loss in L2 environment: Language reversion in elderly people
Hansen (2001a) remarked that "language attrition has been studied for two reasons; First of all, researchers have taken interest in knowing attrition processes and then, it has got considerable pedagogical implications".
As remarked by Schmid (2005), "there are many forms of attrition, and one type takes place when foreign language learners are in contact with the language". Tomiyama pointed out that acquisition and attrition might occur at the same time.
This research compares two groups of the subjects of study on the same variables that have been done in past researches. As there is no treatment in this study, the researcher determined the relationships between the various variables. Hence, the design selected for this study is the quantitative research (ex-post facto).
The designation of ex-post facto , from Latin for "after the fact", is used to determine the natural course of events. Its purpose to investigate the cause-and-effect relationships between the IV and DV, where the researcher cannot randomly assign subjects to different conditions or manipulate the independent variable directly.
This study is conducted in the Islamic Republic of Iran . The research location is in the capital of Iran, Tehran at the KISH English Language Institute.
An accidental sampling of the main major of non-probability sampling employed in this research. The subjects in this study consist of two hundred male and female adult Iranian language learners who have registered in intermediate and advanced (IPL3 & APL) levels at the KISH Institute English Language in mixed classes during the spring and summer season in 2009.
Yukawa (2001) suggested that a number of field procedures are to be used to collect information for language learning researches, such as questionnaires, interviews, tests, observations and think-aloud. A composition test was employed in the present study for data elicitation.
ESL/EFL COMPOSITION PROFILE (Jacob, 1981)
Research Instrument effective complex constructions ; few errors of agreement, tense, number, word order/function, articles ; few errors of pronouns, prepositions Grammatical Morpheme Criteria sophisticated range ; effective word/idiom choice & usage; word form mastery; appropriate register Lexical Density Criteria knowledgeable ; substantive; thorough development of thesis; relevant to assigned topic Syntactic Complexity Criteria demonstrates mastery of conventions; few errors of spelling; few errors of spelling punctuation; few errors of spelling capitalization and paragraphing Mechanics Criteria fluent expression ; ideas clearly stated/ supported; succinct ; well-organized; logical sequencing; cohesive Organization Criteria
The data of this study were collected in two separate stages with an interval period of six months. The composition test was administrated during class time in one session.
In the first stage which was towards the end of the summer term (the end of September 2009), all of the participants sat for the test.
After the period of six months, which was the second stage, the continuing group (those who would be attending classes in the next term, the end of May 2010) took the same test in the class.
The researcher also sent an electronic version or hard copies of the test to the non-continuing students after making sure that these students had no contact with the English language during the period of interval.
The results of the one-way ANOVA tables indicate that the continuing students do not undergo significant attrition of the using grammatical morpheme across different proficiency levels whereas for the non-continuing students, they have undergone a significant level with the grammatical morpheme at the intermediate and advanced proficiency levels in stages.
Thus, in this study, a trend of attrition in writing ability on non-continuing students with different proficiency levels at stages is observed.
The results of this research revealed that the continuing students do not experience attrition with the grammatical morpheme across different proficiency levels. In spite of the short period of non-use, non-continuing students have shown a trend of attrition across different proficiency levels. In contrast to previous studies, grammatical morphemes turned out to be more resistant to attrition.
Consequently, according to this result, the first and third null hypothesis is accepted for the continuing learners (sig-F>α, Accept Ho); while, the second and fourth ones were rejected for the non-continuing learners across different proficiency levels (sig-F<α, Reject Ho).
Arent, R. (2003). Promoting revision and development in L2 writing through a combination-based curriculum. The Korea TESOL Journal, Vol.6, No.1, 1-26.
Bahrick, H. (1984). Fifty years of second language attrition: Implications for programmatic research. The Modern Language Journal, 68, 105- 118.
Brown, H. & Doughlas, S. (2000). Princples of languagage learning and teaching(4 th ed.). Son Francisco: Addison Wesley Longman Inc.
Cohen, A. (1989). Attrition in the productive lexicon of two Portuguese Third language speakers. SSLA, 11, 135-149.
de Bot, K.& Stoessel, S. (2000). In search of yesterday’s words: Reactivating a long forgotten language. Applied Linguistics, 21/3. 333-353.
de Groot, A. M. B. & Keijzer, R. (2000). What Is Hard To Learn Is Easy To Forget: The Roles of Word Concreteness, Cognate Status, and Word Frequency in Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning and Forgetting. Language Learning, 50, 1-56.
Ellis, N. C. & Beaton, A. (1993). Factors affecting the learning of foreign language vocabulary: Imagery keyword mediators and phonological short-term memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 46 A, 533-558.
Gardner, R. C., Lalonde, R.N. & MacPherson, J. (1985). Social factors in second language attrition. Language Learning 35(4), 519-540.
Grendel, M. (1993). Verlies en Herstel van Lexicale Kennis. (Attrition an recovery of lexical knowledge). Ph.D. thesis, University of Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
Gurel, A. (2004). Selectivity in L2-induced L1 attrition: a psycholinguistic account. Journal of Neurolinguistics, Vol.17, 53-78.
Hansen, L. (1999). Not a total loss: The attrition of Japanese negation over three decades. In L. Hansen, Second Language Attrition In Japanese Contexts (pp.142-153). New York: Oxford University Press.
Hansen, L. (2001a). Language attrition: The fate of the start. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 21, pp. 60-73.
Isurin, L. (2000). Deserted islands or a child’s first language forgetting. Bilingualism:Language and Cognition, 3,151-166.
Jakobson, R. (1941). Kindersprache, Aphasie und allgemeine Lautgesetze (Child language aphasia and phonological universals. English Translation, 1972. The Hague: Mouton.
Jamshidiha, H. (2005). L1 Persian attrition: a study of adult bilinguals. Unpublished master thesis, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.
Jaspaert, K., Kroon, S. & Hout, R. V. (1986). Points of reference in first-language loss research. In Weltens et al. (eds.). Language attrition in progress, 37-49.
Kopke, B. (2004). Neurolinguistics aspects of attrition. Journal of Neurolinguistics, Vol. 17.3-30.
Levelt, W. J. M. (1989). Speaking. From intention to articulation. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.
Murtagh, L. (2003). Theoretical and empirical issues in second language attrition. Retrieved July 1, 2005, from : www. Ub.rug.nl/eldoc/dis/arts/l.murtagh/thesis.pdf
Nae, N. (2004). In Defense of Translation. NUCB Journal of language Culture and Communication,6(1),35-446.March 2007.
Nagasawa, S. (1999). Learning and losing Japanese as a second language: A multiple case study of American university students. In L. Hansen (Ed.), Second language attrition in Japanese contexts (pp.169-199). New York: Oxford Press.
Oxford, R. (1982). Research on language loss: A review with implications for foreign language teaching. The Modern Language Journal, 66, 106-169.
Paradis, M. (2004). A Neurolinguistic Theory of Bilingualism. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia:John Benjamins.
Pavlenko, A. (2004). L2 influence and L1 attrition in adults bilingualism. In M. schmid et al. (Eds.), First language attrition (pp.47-59). USA: John Benjamins North America.
Ross, L. (2002). The role of word class in the attrition of school-le arned French: Are nouns or verbs more likely to be lost? Retrieved July 11, 2005, from www.hofstra.edu/pdf/lib undergrad res award_2003.pdf
Schmid, M. S. (2004). First Language Attrition: The Methodology Revised, International Journal of Bilingualism, 8, 239–255.
Schmid, M. S. (2005). The Language Attrition Test Battery: A Research Manual. MS, University of Groningen.
Smith, L. R. (2002). The social architecture of communicative competence: A methodology for social-network research in sociolinguistics. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 153, 133-160.
Tomiyama, M. (1999). The first stage of second language attrition: A case study of a Japanese returnee. In L. Hansen (Ed.). Second language attrition in Japanese contexts (pp.59-79). New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Van, Els, T. (1986). An overview of European research on language attrition. In B.Weltens, K. de Bot and T. van Els (Eds.), Language Attrition in Progress (pp.318).Dordrecht: Foris.
Weltens, B., & Grendel, M. (1993). Attrition of vocabulary knowledge. In R. Schreuder & B. Weltens (Eds.), The Bilingual Lexicon. (pp. 135-156). Amsterdam: John Benjamin.
Yamgur, K. (2004). Issues in finding the appropriate methodology in language attrition research. In M. Schmid et al. (Eds.), First language attrition (pp.133-164). USA: John Benjamin North America
Yukawa, E. (2001). Second language attrition in Japanese contexts. Applied Linguistics, 21/1, 124-129.