Answering Korean Negative Questions by Elementary Students in Differing English Learning Contexts

HyunSook Ko 1 ,
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1University of Ulsan
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ⓒ Copyright 2017 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Feb 20, 2017 ; Revised: Mar 23, 2017 ; Accepted: Mar 26, 2017

Published Online: Apr 30, 2017


The study investigates whether different English learning contexts result in different grammar development in L1-specific structures in learners’ mother tongue, Korean. Three groups of 8-to-10-year old students (i.e., EFL, immersion, and ESL learners) participated in the research. Participants completed a dialogue by choosing either Yes or No in Korean, and accuracy and reaction time were measured. The results showed little difference among the three groups in reaction time, but a significant difference between the EFL students and the ESL students in accuracy. The ESL students showed more limited knowledge with the peculiar but common structures in Korean. In the correlation analysis, length of residence in Korea had the strongest correlation, implying that the longer students lived in Korea, the better they correctly answered. The study enhances understanding of the complicated aspects of bilinguals’ language development, particularly regarding L1 attrition or delayed development. In addition, it implies pedagogically that the mother tongue curriculum for bilingual learners could be well-served by more emphasis on enhancing learners’ grammatical development, including language-specific structures.

Keywords: EFL; immersion; ESL; mother tongue development; reaction time