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Wk11 7805

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  • 1. Second Language Acquisition Semester 1, 2005
    • Week 11
    • Individual differences in SLA
  • 2. Non-linguistic factors in L2 development
    • motivation personality / cognitive style factors
    • beliefs extroversion / introversion
    • affective states locus of control
    • anxiety risk-taking
    • field dependence / independence
    • age aptitude
    • learner strategies
  • 3. Role of individual differences (ID) in L2 development
    • IDs more important in L2 than L1
    • IDs consist of states and traits
    • states: specific learning situation or state of mind
    • traits: enduring characteristics of a person
    • Direct versus indirect cause of L2 development. ID models are multivariate in that different factors combine to affect learning outcomes.
    • IDs are hard to measure.
  • 4. Age
    • Does it make a difference?
    • What kind of difference does it make?
    • What is the cause of the difference?
  • 5. Critical versus sensitive period for SLA
    • A critical period implies that there is an age, after which SLA is not possible.
    • A sensitive period implies that there is an age when (second) language acquisition is optimised.
  • 6. A sensitive period for SLA
    • What is the evidence for a sensitive period in language acquisition?
    • Three generalizations.
    • 1. Universal age of onset of production, rate of acquisition and age of completion of language learning (Slobin, 1982).
    • 2. Relatively homogenous across individual cognitive abilities.
    • 3. Little effect for environmental variation (social class, childrearing patterns).
    • 4. “Feral” cases like Genie, where I child does not receive normal exposure.
  • 7. Does age make a difference?
    • 1. Adults are faster than children at earlier stages of morphological and syntactic development. (Holding time and exposure constant)
    • 2. Older children acquire faster than younger children.
    • 3. Child starters outperform adult starters in the long run.
    • 4. Attainment of native-like fluency across all domains is only possible if the language is started prior to six years of age. Learners starting not much later than age 6 can become fluent but will have an accent in phonology. Learners starting after 15 will have 'accents' in all domains.
    • (Long 1990)
    • See also DeKeyser, R. M. (2000). The robustness of critical period effects in second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 22 , 499-532.
  • 8. What kind of difference does age make?
    • Phonology.
    • Evidence for a critical age of 6 for phonology has come from a number of studies looking at age-of-arrival (AO) (Oyama, 1976, Fathman, 1985). Counterevidence from Neufield, 1978.
    • Morphology and syntax.
    • Strong main effect for AO no main effect for other variables (Coppieters 1987 ; Newport & Johnson, 1989; DeKeyser, 2000).
    • Semantics, Discourse and Pragmatics.
    • Not much research but anecdotal evidence for an “accent” in this areas in adult learners.
  • 9. What is the cause of age differences?
    • Social/Affective factors . The development of identity makes adult learners more self-conscious. Ego permeability and cultural identification make it difficult for adults to learn another language.
    • Input. Children receive more and better input than adults
    • Cognitive development. The cognitive system overrides natural language learning. The acquisition of metalinguistic skills occurs at around puberty.
    • Neurophysiological Loss due of natural language learning ability due to hemispheric lateralization, or changes due to mylenation of neural pathways. Recent evidence shows late acquired language to be localised in different part of the brain (Kim et al 1999).
  • 10. What difference does it make?
    • Is the “native speaker” the appropriate target for adult SLA?
  • 11. Social Distance
    • Acculturation model (Schumann, 1978) The learner needs to adapt to the target language culture in order for successful acquisition to take place.
    • Two kinds of distance:
    • Psychological (individual) distance
    • Social (group) distance
  • 12. Beliefs
    • SLA can be affected by the attitudes, values, theories and assumptions about learning (& teaching) which learners build up over time and bring with them to the classroom.
    • Richards, J. C. & Lockhart, C. (1994) Reflective teaching in second language classrooms . Cambridge University Press.
  • 13. Motivation
    • Integrative motivation is present in learners who identify with the target culture, would like to resemble members of the target culture and who would like to participate in the target culture. It is assumed to be based in the personality of the learner.
    • Instrumental orientation refers to those cases where the learners are interested in learning the language for the possible benefits: professional advancement, study in the target language, business.
  • 14. General findings on the role of motivation
    • Motivation plays an important role in L2 development.
    • Motivation is separate from aptitude.
    • Integrative motivation is more powerful for facilitating L2 development in some situations than in others.
    • Both integrative & instrumental motivations may lead to success, but lack of either causes problems.
  • 15. Motivation as a multi-componential construct
    • Motivation
    • = effort + desire to achieve goal + attitudes
    • (Gardner, 1985)
  • 16. The motivation construct
    • Short-term motivation towards the day-to-day activities in the classroom and general motivations for classroom learning are also important.
    • The instrumental-integrative dichotomy: is it real?
    • Does motivation drive achievement or vice versa?
    • Causal versus resultative effects
  • 17. Affective states: Anxiety
    • state anxiety versus trait anxiety
    • state anxiety: anxiety related to a specific learning situation
    • trait anxiety: a predisposition to be anxious (unchangeable?)
  • 18. There is a non-linear relationship between anxiety and performance:
    • Facilitating versus debilitating anxiety (Scovel, 1978; Bailey, 1995).
    • It depends on the amount and context of anxiety
  • 19. Affective states: Locus of control
    • Internal External
    • Stable Ability Task difficulty
    • Unstable Effort Luck
    • Individuals who believe success is based internally on ability and externally on luck are likely to be less motivated.
  • 20. Personality & cognitive style factors: Extroversion / Introversion
    • Extrovert: sociable; dislikes solitude; takes risks; impulsive.
    • Two main components are sociability and risk-taking.
    • Introvert : introspective; quiet; retiring; reserved; dislikes order.
    • Some evidence that introverts have higher academic achievement.
    • Extroversion has been linked to success in L2 development: sociable learners should generate more input, maximize contact and emphasize using the language.
  • 21. Personality & cognitive style factors: Risk-taking
    • Risk-taking has been viewed positively in L2 learning, e.g., Naiman's GLLs.
    • Ely (1986): Risk-taking predicts classroom participation which in turn predicts proficiency.
  • 22. The Good Language Learner
    • What strategies do successful language learners use that unsuccessful learners don't use?
    • Taxonomies of learner / learning strategies
    • Wong-Filmore (1976, 1979)
    • Naiman, Fröhlich, Stern & Todesco (1978)
    • O'Malley & Chamot (1985, 1990)
    • Oxford, R. (1990)
  • 23. Learner strategies
    • “ A behavioral or mental procedure used by learners to develop their interlanguages.” (Ellis, 1997)
    • Oxford's Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL). SILL is designed to help students better understand how they learn a new language and to help them become better learners.
  • 24. L2 Learning Aptitude
    • A generalized capacity to learn a foreign language.
    • > Separate from intelligence
    • > Reflects rate, not necessarily capacity.
    • > Concerned with prediction, not necessarily explanation.
  • 25. Measuring Aptitude
    • Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT) developed by Carroll & Sapon (1959)
    • Designed to predict success in foreign language learning.
    • Four components of Aptitude.
    • Phonemic coding ability
    • Grammatical sensitivity
    • Inductive language learning ability
    • Rote memory skills
  • 26. Aptitude has received limited attention in SLA research
    • Other factors more important. Motivation, cognitive style, attitude.
    • > ‘High' correlations leave much variance unaccounted for.
    • > Fixed and innate? Empirical question. People attacking the notion assume it is fixed, determinist
    • > Elitist. Focus should be learner styles. But could be used to identify particular areas of strength and weakness.
    • > Appears to only be relevant to formal learning
    • > Prediction not explanation.
  • 27. End of individual differences.
    • Week 11 end