The Influence of Cultural Schema on L2 Production: Analysis of Native Russian Speakers' English Personal Narratives
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The present study focuses on 24 personal narratives told by eight highly proficient bilingual L1-Russian, L2-English speakers (NRS) in comparison to 24 personal narratives told by eight native English speakers (NES) in an effort to not only discover any structural differences that may be revealed through statistical analysis, but also to discover evidence of previously documented Russian and American cultural schema in the narratives through qualitative inquiry and narrative analysis. Although much has been written concerning Russian culture, cross-linguistic differences between Russian and English, and Russian English language learners these concepts have never been synthesized and applied to a study of Russian-English bilingual narratives in English in order to discover if the cultural schema and linguistic tendencies from L1 are maintained in the second language. The statistical structural analysis included in this study did not reveal any differences between the NES and NRS narratives. On the other hand qualitative analysis of cultural schemas revealed significant transfer of Russian cultural schema in the Native Russian Speaker participants' L2 narrative production. The Russian speakers were found to maintain their distinctly Russian emotional expression. Influence of cultural schema on L2 production was also visible in the thematic differences between the two sets of stories. The NES responses to each prompt were thematically quite similar, and differed noticeably from the themes of the NRS stories. Similarly, Hofstede's dimensions of national culture also revealed some differences between the two groups. However, theRussian cultural schema proposed by Croft, triplicity, was not found to be moreprominent in the NRS narratives than in the NES ones. In conclusion, the Native Russian Speakers in this study showed significant transfer of their L1 cultural schema when speaking their L2. The findings of this study have revealed the high likelihood of influence and transfer of cultural schema, even when bilingual English language speakers have achieved a very high level of English language mastery. However, this cultural influence on L2 production does not impinge on competence of bilingual speakers when speaking English.
Cunningham, Mary (2011). The Influence of Cultural Schema on L2 Production: Analysis of Native Russian Speakers' English Personal Narratives. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from