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Second Language Acquisition: Monika Bellucci

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Discussion (main focus)

In the first interview, Bellucci was aged thirty-six, lived in Italy, but often travelled to England beginning her acting career here aged twenty-eight. Although a decrease in errors, Bellucci appears to make little development of the English article system between the years 2000 and 2005, as the percentage of errors dropped marginally from 30% to 21%. This could be a result of instrumental orientation whereby Bellucci focuses on L2 proficiency for work reasons. It is predicted that integrative learners are better achievers than instrumental learners because they have a positive disposition towards the L2 community. At this time of Bellucci’s life, this may not have been her motivation.

In Appendix 1, Bellucci makes an error with the definite article where she uses it in place of the preposition “to”. She also omits the indefinite article twice. For one of these errors, Bellucci makes two attempts at producing the “an” indefinite article and one of these attempts is non-target-like. Figure 2 shows how this does not support the hypothesis that Bellucci would make more errors with the definite article, as she makes more errors with the indefinite articles. Relating back to Shoebottom’s (2017) research on the differences between Italian and English articles, here Bellucci talks about an “Italian movie” and a “great situation”. In Italian they would have masculine and feminine singular articles and the speaker’s interlanguage could cause this error, preserving features of the L1.

In Appendix 2, Bellucci omits the definite article three times and the indefinite article “a” once out of six obligatory contexts. This supports the hypothesis that Bellucci would make more errors with the definite article than with indefinite articles due to the indefinite article being acquired first.

Over the years 2005-2015, Bellucci’s linguistic proficiency improves significantly, making no errors in 2010 and 2015. This corresponds with Myles (2005) study showing that L2 development is linked to the amount of exposure to utterances in the target language. Over time, it appears that the more frequently Bellucci travelled to England, reflected by the increasing number of English films she appeared in, the more her grammatical knowledge improved. Becoming immersed in the L2 and receiving active, quality input is reflected in her systematic development. Aptitude could be accountable, as Bellucci appears to have a talent for English grammar.

In order to fully research the order of acquisition hypothesis, one would need to look at more examples of Bellucci’s speech from before 2000. This is because she makes no article errors in the two recent interviews making it difficult to understand if Bellucci follows the L1 natural order of acquiring articles from two clips. To support this hypothesis Bellucci would make more errors with definite articles before 2000.

Ideas for the future (main focus)

Using the same speaker to empirically investigate a factor relating to social context, I would hypothesise that Bellucci’s English grammar proficiency significantly improved when she frequently travels to England to appear in films. Bellucci was aged twenty-eight when she first appeared in an English film and one would imagine she faced social pressures to sound English, playing many English characters. She acted alongside famous native English actors in films for an English-speaking audience, therefore Bellucci was probably motivated to be equally as competent and focus on her English skills. To investigate this hypothesis, transcripts of Bellucci’s language from the age of five to twenty-eight would be analysed and compared with the transcripts in this study. This would compare the grammatical proficiency of her L2 before and after she begun to appear in English films. I predict that her linguistic proficiency would dramatically improve post age twenty-eight, based on the fact she would be motivated to sound like a competent speaker of the target language surrounding her.


Native speakers acquire the English article system subconsciously at an early stage, though, this report shows how L2 learners with different systems can face difficulties when acquiring articles. With increased exposure, the systematic development of the English article system does improve over time, potentially to a stage of making zero errors.

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