SLA: multidisciplinary field1. Linguistics – gives us an accurate description of what people are trying to learn (L2) and what we already know (L1)3. Psychology – privides us with the learning theory to account for how people acquire knowledge.5. L1 Acquisition – offers findings that can be applied to SLA.
Factors to consider in L2Acquisition The L1 – second language learner production always resembles their L1 in one way or another. (TRANSFER). The INTERLANGUAGE – contains features of the L1 as well as the L2. The FINAL STATE – what is to be acquired (Communicatice competence). VARIATION in performance – competence (linguistic knowledge the learner has) vs. performance (actual language used by the learner)
Variation: ExampleI didn’t like that movie so I told her I no want togo there.QUESTIONS:Why is there such variation?Have these learners acquired the English negationor not?
Variation: some explanations When learners are only focusing on the form of the L2 utterance, they may be able to produce it accurately.HOWEVER, When there are other factors such as communicating a complex thought, errors may occurA matter of PROCESSING? Need to shift processing from controlled to automatic (because of fixed processing capacity in humans).
Interlanguage GrammarsGeneral question:What is the structure of an interlanguage?Investigate the mental representations ofinterlanguage grammars within the differentdomains of linguistic theory.
L2 phonology The L2 learner will have to learn to perceive and produce some new sounds when learning an L2. Segmental phonology Prosodic phonology
L2 Phonology: Question Why are some sounds easier to acquire than others in an L2? What is the role of the L1?The role ofMarkedness – The Markedness Differential Hypothesis. Investigates L2 acquisition by comparing the relative markedness in the L1 and the L2.
L2 Syntax Two facets of syntactic structure that L2 learners must acquire: the null subject parameter and verb movement.THE NULL SUBJECT PARAMETER Languages with overt subjects vs. languages in which the subject can be omitted. Languages with null subjects also: Allow declarative sentences with flexible word order Speakers of null subject languages are more likely to permit that trace sequences).
L2 SyntaxVERB MOVEMENTSome languages do not allow verb movement,while others do.For example,English does not allow it, but French does.
L2 Morphology Is the developmental sequence in L2 learning the same as it is in L1 learning?Developmental Order in L1 Developmental Order in L2
Factors affecting SLA Does the onset age of L2 acquisition cause different levels of final proficiency? Is there an optimal time or a “critical period” to acquire an L2? Discussion focuses in the area of phonology Fairly certain predictions: People who start learning the L2 before the age of 7, will have native like L2 speech. People who start learning after the age of 14 or 15 will have non-native speech. It is much more difficult to predict knowledge or ability in the area of syntax, sociolinguistics, etc.
Individual differences Question asked: if learners have a particular quality “x”, does this make them better second language acquirers?Three main points that need to be well explained:5. How doe we define “x”?6. What does it mean to be a “better” acquirer?7. What aspect of communicative competence are we referring to?
Affective factors: motivation Will a person that is more motivated be more successful at acquiring an L2? Two types of motivation: INSTRUMENTAL (having a specific goal or reason to learn the L2). INTEGRATIVE (wanting to learn more about a culture or to fit in better). Some findings: The degree of integrative motivation, correlates with the degree of success in learning a target language.
Cognitive factors The mechanics of how an individual learns something new. Contrast between field dependence and field independence.Some SLA conclusions: field-independent learners do better on tests that focus on analytic tasks such as providing the correct grammatical form in a given sentence. Field-dependent learners do better in tasks that involve synthesizing their knowledge. (better communicative commpetence – more concerned with getting the message across than with the correctness)
The l2 classroomThree relevant characteristics of a second language classroom: Modified input (teacher talk) Modified interaction (recast) Focus on form (instructions about the language and explicit correction).
Bilingual education Minority language maintenance programs French immersion