Second Language AcquisitionPrepared By:Edward Valcárcel MelgarejoDocente de Educación en IdiomasUniversidad Nacional de San Agustínde Arequipa
CHAPTER 4 INTERLANGUAGE AND THE NATURAL ROUTE OF DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVES1. Gain skills in observing, identifying and resolving problems in the language acquisition process.2. Demonstrate an understanding of the interlanguage effects in second language acquisition.3. Demonstrate theoretical knowledge of the L1=L2 hypothesis.
INTERLANGUAGE This was used to refer to the systematic knowledge of language which is independent of both the learner’s L1 and the L2 system he is trying to learn. Interlanguage was the theoretical construct which underlay the attempts of SLA researchers to identify the stages of development through which L2 learners pass on their way to L2 ( or near L2) proficiency.
This term reflect two related but different concepts. First, interlanguage refers to the structured system which the learner constructs at any given stag in his development (i.e. an interlanguage). Second the term refers to the series of interlocking systems which form what Corder called the learner’s built in syllabus (i.e. the interlanguage continuum) Selinker suggested that five principal processes operated in interlanguage. These were:
1. language transfer (this was listed first, perhaps in deference to the contemporary importance attached to L1 interference),2. overgeneralization of target language rules3. transfer of training (i.e. a rule enters the learner’s system as a result of instruction4. strategies of L2 learning (i.e. an identifiable approach by the learner to the material to be learnt)5. strategies of L2 communication (i.e. an identifiable approach by the learner to communication with native speakers.
Interference was then seen as one of several processes responsible for interlanguage. The five processes together constitute the way in which the learner tries to internalize the L2 system.
Fossilization Fossilized structures can be realized as errors or as correct target language forms. Selinker and Lamendella argue that the causes of fossilization are both internal and external. It can occur both because the learner believes that he does not need to develop his interlanguage any further in order to communicate effectively whatever he wants to, or it can occur because changes in the neural structure of his brain as a result of age restrict the operation of the hypothesis testing mechanisms.
Characteristics of Interlanguage Permeable (rules that constitute the learner’s knowledge at any one stage are not fixed, but are open to amendment).
Dynamic (changes frequently) However, it does not jump from one stage to the next, but rather slowly revises the interim systems to accommodate new hypothesis about the target language system. This takes place by the introduction of a new rule, first one in context and then in another, and so on. A new rule spreads in the sense that its coverage gradually extends over a range of linguistic contexts.
Systematic (governed by rules and by students’ L1) Despite the variability of interlanguage, it is possible to detect the rule-based nature of the learner’s use of the L2.
Error AnalysisThe procedure for error analysis is as follows:1. A corpus of language is selected.2. The errors in the corpus are identified.3. The errors are classified.4. The errors are explained. An attempt is made to identify the psycholinguistic cause of the errors.5. The errors are evaluated.
Error Analysis provides two kinds ofinformation about interlanguage.1. The first is the linguistic type of errors produced by L2 learners.2. The second is about the strategies used in interlanguage-concerns the psycholinguistic type of errors produced by L2 learners. Provide clues about the kinds of strategies learners employ to simplify the task of learning a L2.
Empirical Evidence for the Interlanguage Hypothesis When the continuum is conceived as stretching from the learner’s mother tongue to the target language. (restructuring continuum). When the continuum is conceived as the gradual complexification of interlangauge knowledge. (recreation continuum).
Restructuring continuum: the learner is seenas gradually replacing features of hismother tongue as he acquires features of thetarget language.Recreation continuum: the learner is seen asslowly creating the rule system of the targetlanguage in a manner vey similar to thechild’s acquisition of his first language.
Longitudinal Studies Transitional constructions are defined by Dulay as the language forms learners use while they are still learning the grammar of a language. L2 learners do not progress from zero knowledge of a target language rule to perfect knowledge of the rule. They progress through a series of interim or developmental stages on their way to target language competence.
This is probably true for all grammaticalstructures, including functors such asarticles and verb inflections, but is mostclearly evident in the acquisition ofgrammatical sub-systems. For this reasonnegation, interrogation and to a lesserextent relative clauses in SLA provide thebest indicators of the progression which,according to interlanguage theory , is thebasis of SLA.
THEMATIC NUCLEUS 2THE L2 = L1 HYPOTHESIS AND INPUT
The L2 = L1 Hypothesis and Input Slobin suggested that the way children process language in L1 acquisition can be explained in terms of a series of Operating Principles :
Pay attention to the ends of words The phonological forms of words can be systematically modified Pay attention to the order of words and morphemes Avoid interruption and rearrangement of linguistic units Underlying semantic relations should be marked overtly and clearly Avoid exceptions The use of grammatical markers should make semantic sense
Some Outstanding IssuesOrigins of InterlanguageCorder considers two possibilities. One isthat the learner starts from scratch in the sameway as the infant acquiring his mother tongue.
The second possibility is that the learner starts from some basic simple grammar . Corder suggests that language learners regress to an earlier stage in their own linguistic development before starting the process of elaboration.
Ellis, however, argues that there is no need to posit that the leaner remembers early acquisitional stages. The starting point consists of the early vocabulary that the learner has acquired, This is used in no grammatical utterances, and conveys the learner meaning with the help of information supplied to the listener by the context of situation. In other words, the starting point is the learner’s knowledge of how to get a message across without the help of grammar.
The Problem of VariabilityOne of the main principles in interlanguage theory isthat language-learner language is systematic. At anyone stage in his development, the learner operates inaccordance with the system of rules he hasconstructed up to that point. A crucial issue , then, iswhy his performance is so variable. On oneoccasion he uses one rule, on another he uses adifferent rule. Each developmental stage, therefore,is characterized not by a system of categorical ruleswhich are invariably applied , but by a system ofalternative rules.
The natural route of development alsoignores another type of variability, thatwhich derives from individual learnerdifferences.
Summary and Conclusion Two important questions:1. Was there a natural route of development?2. Was this route the same or different from that reported in L1 acquisition?
The answer to the first question was that there was evidence to show that leaners followed broadly similar routes, although minor differences could also be observed as a result of the learner’s L1 and other factors. SLA is characterized by a natural sequence of development (i.e. there are certain broad stages that they pass through), but the order of development varies in details (i.e. some steps are left out, or specifical morphological features are learnt in a different order).
It may well be that the sequence of development is common to both L1 acquisition and SLA, whereas the order of development is different. Certainly, the L2 = L1 acquisition hypthesis has not been proven in its strong form, although similar processes appear to operate in both types of acquisition. In SLA both the L1 and also maturational factors, which affect the use of at least some cognitive processes, play a part.
Input, Interaction and Second Language Acquisition Input is used to refer to language that is addressed to the L2 learnereither by a native speaker or by another L2 learner. Interaction consists of the discourse jointly constructed by the learner and his interlocutors; input therefore, is the result of interaction. Not all the available input is processed by the learner, either because some of it is not understood or because some of it is not attended to. The part of the input that is processed or “let in” will be referred as intake.
Three views of input in Language AcquisitionIt is axiomatic that in order fo SLA to takeplace, there must be: 1) some L2 data madeavailable to the learner as input and 2) a setof internal learner mechanisms to account forhow the L2 data are processed.
Behaviourist accounts of SLA views the learner as a language producing machine. The linguistic environment is seen as the crucial determining factor. Nativist accounts. of SLA view the learner as a grand imitator. They maintain that exposure to language cannot account satisfactorily for acquisition. Input is seen merely as a trigger which activates the internal mechanisms.
A third view, however, is tenable. This treats the acquisition of language as the result of an interaction between the learner’s mental abilities and the linguistic environment.
Input and Interaction in natural settingsDiscourse studiesL2 data are made available to the learner inthe input he receives. However, this input isnot determined solely by the native speaker.It is also determined by the learner himself.The feedback he provides affects the nature ofthe subsequent input from the native speaker.