Number agreement errors and null subjects in young (non-)CLIL learners

Yolanda Fernandez-Pena and Francisco Gallardo-del-Puerto.
Vigo International Applied Linguistics
There is a wealth of studies on L2 English acquisition in CLIL contexts in Spain,
but most have underexplored the potential impact of CLIL in the longer run on the
morphosyntax of earlier starters from monolingual regions. This paper fills this gap by
exploring agreement morphology errors and subject omission in the oral production
of Primary Education English learners from the Spanish monolingual community of
Cantabria. The sample investigated consists of the individual narration of a story by
learners in two age-matched (11-12 year-olds) groups, one CLIL (n=28) and one non-
CLIL (n=35). The results show no statistically significant differences between both
groups for the provision of specific linguistic features at a younger age, though some
evidence also points to a subtle effect of additional CLIL exposure. Both groups show
moderately low rates of null subjects; they omit affixal morphology (*he eat) significantly
more frequently than suppletive inflection (*he _ eating) and they seldom produce commission errors (*
they eats). Interestingly, non-CLIL learners show far greater rates of omission with auxiliary
be than copula be and frequently use the placeholder is( *he is eat), which evinces an earlier stage of acquisition than that of CLIL learners.