Nominal Agreement in L2 Speakers of Italian: Suggestions for a Teaching Plan

Jan Casalicchio


This paper addresses the topic of adult acquisition of nominal agreement in Italian, a crucial issue in teaching Italian as Second/Foreign Language. Building on a corpus containing spontaneous and semi-spontaneous production data from two advanced L2-speakers of Italian, I show that nominal agreement can be problematic even in the last stages of the acquisition process. The discussion of the instances of missing agreement in the corpus suggests that these are not due to a missing knowledge of the agreement rules in Italian, but instead on processing and production. In particular, some contexts prove to be more difficult than others: gender agreement (i.e., agreement with feminine nouns) is more difficult than number agreement, and the presence of two or more modifiers that refer to the same noun increases the error rate. Another difficulty is offered by the cases in which an item external to the determiner phrase (DP) has to agree with the subject of the clause. All these issues are tackled from a teacher’s perspective: I highlight how the various contexts could be addressed and considered in the classroom, in order to help the learners to improve their production. Therefore, this paper argues that the best way to tackle this issue is by coupling knowledge of the formal rules of the language and of the acquisitional process with practical application in the context of second/foreign language teaching.

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Copyright (c) 2021 Jan Casalicchio

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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