Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Interaction between Sytactic and Semantic Modules in Chinese Learners' English Spotaneous Speech

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Interaction between Sytactic and Semantic Modules in Chinese Learners' English Spotaneous Speech

Article excerpt

Abstract

According to modular theory, there are interactive effects between the central modules and language modules. The central cognition may deploy and redeploy resources from language modules. Moreover, the language modules can activate the cognitive ability. So this paper studies the spotaneous speech of students who learn English as a foreign language, to check whether activated syntactic module could speed up speech processing or not, and whether activated semantic module could also influence selection of syntactic structures. Therefore, this paper mainly conducts a qualitative study on English subjunctive mood based on the analysis on related syntactic and and semantic factors in Chinese learners' spontaneous speeches, aiming at exploring the influence of sytactic and semantic modules on subjunctive mood learning. The result shows there are interactions between syntactic module and semantic module: the activation of either module will speed up speech processing of the other. Therefore in the teaching of Chinese learners' English spotaneous speech, the teachers should take measures to strengthen the input of the language modules in an applicable atmosphere, so that the two modules can reinforce each other, thus improving students' spotaneous speech ability effectively.

Keywords: central modules, language modules, syntactic module, semantic module, interaction

1. Introduction

Modular theory is very important in the field of cognition, psychological science and neural science. In recent years, this theory has showed its significance on visual imagination and language comprehension. Moreover, Kosslyn (1994) has exemplifed modular activities in his research and showed the interactive effect between language modules and the central module in language production. As we know, for language production, the mind may process the information stored in the central cognition and then produce new utterances. Although these specific modules must work together with the central conceptual modules, syntax is usually considered as a major medium for modular research, for in making up a sentence, almost all language modules are invoved. Since semantics and syntax are closely related, the paper will mainly explore the relationship between syntactic and semantic modules in the application of subjunctive mood in Chinese learners' spontaneous speeches, aiming at exploring the influence of sytactic and semantic modules on subjunctive mood learning, thus contributing to the improvement of oral English teaching for learners of EFL.

2. Literature Review on Modular Theory

According to Fodor (1983), the human mind can be clearly divided into two distinct parts: a set of peripheral input and output modules on one hand, and central cognition on the other. Fodor's input modules include specialized aspects of vision, audition, taste, smell, touch, and language; output modules include a variety of systemscontrolling different types of motor activity, and language. However, in Fodor's view, central cognition remains inherently mysterious for no clear modular cognitive processes are perceived. Apart from Fodor's (1983) peripheral modules, the central mind also contains a number of innately channeled conceptual modules, designed to process conceptual information concerning particular domains. Such modules might include a naïve physics system (dealing with the mechanical properties of middle-sized objects and substances), a naïve psychology or mind-reading system (dealing with the mental states), a folk-biology system (dealing with generic relationships amongst living things), an intuitive number system, a geometrical system for re-orienting and navigating in unusual environments and a system for processing and keeping track of social contracts (Carruthers, 2004). Here, the mind is also composed of modules because the processes which generate beliefs, desires and decisions are modular in nature.

According to the views above, the notion of central-process modularity is a legitimate one and central modularity is powerful. …

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