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English to Non-Native Speakers in Dynamical Systems
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English to Non-Native Speakers in Dynamical Systems



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  • 1. Understanding and Teaching English to Non-Native Speakers from a Dynamical System Perspective Dr. Eva de Lourdes Edwards College of General Studies University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus March 30 th , 2007 Ateneo Puertorrique ño
  • 2. James Gleick
    • Dynamical systems are unpredictable, non-linear, with infinite possibilities, and all the uncertainties of two or more bodies interacting in time and space.
  • 3. The Analogy of a Feather
    • Understanding how we acquire a second language is much more challenging than understanding the learning of a first language. If observing first-language acquisition is like studying the forces of gravity at work by dropping feathers in a vacuum, perhaps taking a look at second-language acquisition is more like watching a feather drop from an airplane, buffeted by winds, weighted by moisture, and slowed by pressure. Just as observing the feather in a real and changing atmosphere teaches us about winds and other environmental factors, studying how one acquires a second language holds out the promise of helping us to understand the role of the diverse conditions under which human learning occurs. (Bialystok & Hakuta, 1994, p. 4)
  • 4.
    • Sue Rumbaugh and Kanzi
    Matata with her adopted son Kanzi
  • 5. Acquiring language while focused on something else
    • Plaster the classroom with language peripherals
    • Word walls
    • Student centers
    • Posters
    • Pictures with labels
  • 6. COLT A COLT A describes classroom events at the level of episode and activity.
  • 7. COLT B 40 codes memos Primary Documents 10 minute transcript assigned codes
  • 8. A rose by any other name … English as a Second Language Bilingual Education World Languages (foreign languages)
  • 9. Puerto Rico Satellite Photo
  • 10. Applied Linguistics learning another language Linguistics Language Transfer Contrastive Analysis Systematicity Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Development Staged Development Fossilization Non-verbal communication Sociolinguistics Identity Deficiency perception Minorities
  • 11. International Phonetic Alphabet
  • 12. Vowels
    • English
    • Spanish
    The vowels in Spanish and English (IPA, 2000). Sound symbols with oval frames are found in most varieties of Spanish. The ones with hexagons are found in most varieties of English (adapted by Díaz-Edwards, 2001).
  • 13. Consonants The consonants in Spanish and English (IPA, 2000; Ladefoged, 1993; Whitley, 1986) Sound symbols with oval frames are found in most varieties of Spanish. The ones with hexagons are found in most varieties of English. Sounds with broken lines are not found in all varieties of the language. Combination sounds are identified with arrows (adapted by Díaz-Edwards, 2001)
  • 14. Lev Vygotsky “ The reciprocal dependence is less known and less appreciated. But Goethe clearly saw it when he wrote that he who knows no foreign language does not truly know his own.” from Thought and Language
  • 15. Bibliography
    • Baca, L., & Cervantes, H. (1998). The bilingual special education interface (3rd ed.) . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
    • Bialystok, E., & Hakuta, K. (1994). In other words: The science and psychology of second-language acquisition.
    • Chomsky, N. (1975). Reflections on language. New York: Pantheon Books.
    • Coulmas, F. (2005). Sociolinguistics: The study of speakers’ choices. NY: Cambridge University Press.
    • Gleick, J. (1987). Chaos: Making a new science. NY: Penguin Books.
    • IPA-The International Phonetic Alphabet (2005). The International Phonetic Association reproduction of the international phonetic alphabet. University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. [On-line]. Available:
    • Krashen, S. (1981). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. English Language Teaching series. London: Prentice-Hall International (UK).
    • Lightbown, P., & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    • Odlin, T. (1989). Language transfer: cross-linguistic influence in language learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.
    • Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language (Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Original work in Russian published 1934).
  • 16.  
  • 17. Review of the Literature Innovative Programs Serving L2 Learners in Elementary Schools and Teacher Preparation Patterns of K-12 English learners’ long-term achievement in NCEs on standardized tests in English reading compared across six program models (Thomas & Collier, 1997, p. 53)
  • 18. Why is this important for teachers? The importance of being aware of these linguistic and cultural nuances is best summarized by Odlin (1989) when he states that: “ There are a number of reasons for language teachers and linguists to consider more closely the problem of transfer. Teaching may become more effective through a consideration of differences between languages and between cultures. An English teacher aware of Spanish-based and Korean-based transfer errors, for example, will be able to pinpoint problems of Spanish-speaking and Korean-speaking ESL students better, and in the process, communicate the very important message to students that their linguistic and cultural background is important to the teacher” (p. 4).