Variability in the Second Language Acquisition of Verb Morphology by Shona Speakers of English: A Developmental Analysis

  • M. Mlambo University of Zimbabwe


This article seeks to make a developmental study of variability in the acquisition of verb morphology by second language (L2) pupils who learn at an English input impoverished school where variability in learner language is often presumed to be quite extensive. By studying variability in such settings, it is hoped that we can gain considerable insights into the nature of the process of second language acquisition. Most studies in variability are product oriented and cross – sectional because they focus on the study of linguistic features at particular points in time. This study is process oriented and examines variability not just at particular points in time but also, overtime. The study of variability enables us to have a fuller understanding of both the learner’s internal mechanisms as well as the inner logic of the language learner’s grammar. In this study, it is argued that although on the surface the learner’s language might sometimes appear chaotic, underneath it is characterised by systematicity. It is also, however, argued that variability in contexts where learners’ exposure to English input is restricted is more non-systematic than it is systematic, and that it is vertical variability that best explains “development” in second language acquisition.

Author Biography

M. Mlambo, University of Zimbabwe
Lecturer, Department of English

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1013-3445