Two problems with Behaviourism
The poverty of the stimulus argument
>>>>> Chomsky and SLA
Rewards have a tendency to lose their effect over time
>>>>> Social Psychology
What is Grammar?
A grammar that accounts for the observable regularities
in a language
A grammar that makes it ‘easier’ to teach or learn a
A learner’s internal grammar:
‘Something’ in a learner’s brain (and body?) that allows
the learner to use language correctly in meaningful
The Language Faculty (LAD)
Chomsky and L1 Acquisition
rule-governed and systematic (interlanguage);
resistance to correction.
Krashen and L2 Acquisition
affective filter hypothesis;
natural order hypothesis.
Acquisition / Learning hypothesis;
Learning grammar is a conscious process. The learner is
consciously attending to the rules/regularities of the
language. This does NOT lead to changes in a learner’s
Acquiring grammar is a subconscious process. The
learner is only aware of using the language for
communication. This DOES lead to changes in the internal
grammar of the learner.
(Teacher does a warm-up activity with 12 year old students)
T = teacher; S1, S2 = different students
How are you doing this morning?
Oh boy. Yeah, why?
Because this morning, my father say no have job this
Your father has no more job this morning? Or you have no
(from: Lightbown & Spada, 1999, p. 123).
The affective filter hypothesis argues that a learner will not acquire
language when she or he is anxious for any reason.
The monitor hypothesis accepts that conscious ‘knowledge of’
grammar, the result of learning (see above), can play a role in second
language use and acquisition.
It works as follows: if there is sufficient time to do so, a learner may ‘monitor’
their own second language use (generated by the internal grammar) with the
help of her or his conscious knowledge of grammar.
This may be a good reason for a teacher to provide plenty of ‘student thinking
time’ in class.
Yes, this means that a learner may have conscious knowledge of a grammar
rule which she has not yet acquired, and therefore not yet part of her internal
In a way, then, the learner’s monitor may create self-generated input that may
result in further acquisition.
If, however, there is not sufficient time for the monitor to operate, then the
second language speaker is entirely dependent on her internal grammar.
Natural Order hypothesis
The following is from Ellis (1997, pp. 9-10) reporting on a study of two young
learners’ (aged 10 and 11) development of English requests:
When I analysed J’s and R’s requests, I found clear evidence of development
taking place. Moreover, the two learners appeared to develop in much the
same way. Initially, their requests were verbless. For example, when J needed
a cut out of a big circle in a mathematics lesson he said:
while, in a different lesson, R just pointed at a piece of card to let the teacher
know that he wanted him to put a staple in it, saying:
A little later, both learners began to use imperative verbs in their requests:
Give me a paper.
Some time after this, they learned to use ‘Can I have ____?’:
Can I have one yellow book, please?
The next stage of their development of requests was marked by a general
extension of the linguistic devices they used. For example, R made use of
Miss, I want. (R wanted the teacher to give him the stapler.)
J used ‘got’:
You got a rubber?
Occasionally, both learners used hints instead of direct requests. For
example, when J wanted the teacher to give him a different coloured piece of
paper he said:
This paper is not very good to colour blue.
Finally, the learners began to use ‘can’ with a range of different verbs (i.e. not
just with ‘have’):
Can you pass me my pencil?
Issues with Krashen’s ‘thinking’
Redundancy in Language Input (today)
Negotiation of Meaning (today)
Collaborative Dialogue (session on sociocultural theory)
Noticing and Information Processing (next session)
Output Hypothesis (next session)
Formulaic language (next session)
Redundancy in Input (1)
What do the following examples suggest about information
Gt a gd jb wth mr py
Cntdwn t nw yr
Hw t b yr wn trvl gnt
Redundancy in Input(2)
Order the following examples in terms of how likely you
think the underlined grammatical feature will be noticed:
He wants to play.
He’s very angry.
David gave up playing the piano.
John kicked the football.
Redundancy in Input (3)
VanPatten (1996) argues that redundancy is a central
problem for learners, especially in their processing of input.
VanPatten's (1996, p. 14) input processing principles:
o Learners process input for meaning before they process it for form.
o Learners process content words in the input before anything else.
o Learners process lexical items before grammatical items (e.g.
o Learners prefer processing "more meaningful morphology before
"less" or "non-meaningful" morphology.
Negotiation of Meaning
If comprehensible input facilitates language
acquisition, and if negotiation of meaning makes input
more comprehensible, then negotiation of meaning
facilitates language acquisition (Long, 1983).
Negotiation commonly includes:
Negotiation of Meaning
Varonis, E.M. and Gass, S. (1985). Non-native/Non-native Conversations:
A Model for Negotiation of Meaning. Applied Linguistics, 6(1): 71-90.
Trigger – Indicator – Response – Pushdown ends
Generalizations from SLA Research
(Based on Lightbown 1985, 2000)
1. Adults and adolescents can ‘acquire’ a second language;
2. The learner creates a systematic interlanguage which is often
characterized by the same systematic errors as the child
learning the same language as a first language, as well as
others which appear to be based on the learner’s own native
3. There are predictable sequences in L2 acquisition such that
certain structures have to be acquired before others can be
4. Practice does not make perfect;
5. Knowing a language rule does not mean one will be able to
use it in communicative interaction;
6. Isolated explicit error correction is usually ineffective in
changing language behaviour;
7. For most adult learners, acquisition stops –‘fossilizes’ –
before the learner has achieved native-like mastery of the
8. One cannot achieve native-like (or near native-like) command
of a second language on one hour a day;
9. The learner’s task is enormous because language is
10.A learner’s ability to understand language in a meaningful
context exceeds his/her ability to comprehend
decontextualized language and to produce language of
comparable complexity and accuracy.
Ellis, R. (1997). Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford university Press.
Krashen, S.D. (1982). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition.
Lightbown, P. & N. Spada (1999). How languages are learned (2nd Ed.).
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lightbown, P. (2000). Anniversary article: Classroom SLA research and second
language teaching. Applied Linguistics, 21/4: 431-462.