Studies in Second Language Acquisition

Research Articles

VARIABLES IN SECOND LANGUAGE ATTRITION

Advancing the State of the Art

Kathleen Bardovi-Harliga1 c1 and David Stringera1 c1

a1 Indiana University

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.

(Received August 02 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 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.

Footnotes

This work was supported by Stottler-Henke through a grant from the Office of Naval Research (N00014-08-M-0375). We thank Dr. Jeremy Ludwig of Stottler-Henke for his many discussions during this project.

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