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  1. 1. SECOND-LANGUAGE ACQUISITION AND MODELS OF INSTRUCTION Juan Francisco Oyana 2012/04/23BehaviourismIs also called learning perspective, is a philosophy of psychology based on theproposition that all things that organisms do including acting, thinking, andfeeling can and should be regarded as behaviors, and that psychologicaldisorders are best treated by altering behavior patterns or modifying theenvironmentConstructivism Is the theory that deals with the way people create meaning of the worldthrough a series of individual constructs. Constructs are the different types offilters we choose to place over our realities to change our reality from chaos toorder. Von Glasersfeld describes constructivism as, “a theory of knowledge withroots in philosophy, psychology, and cybernetics”. Simply stated, it is a learningprocess which allows a student to experience an environment first-hand,thereby, giving the student reliable, trust-worthy knowledge. The student isrequired to act upon the environment to both acquire and test new knowledge.What is language Acquisition?Language acquisition is a process. Humans acquire the capacity to perceiveand comprehend language, as well as to produce and use words to
  2. 2. communicate. The capacity to successfully use language requires one toacquire a range of tools including syntax, phonetics, and anextensive vocabulary. This language might be vocalized as with speech ormanual as in sign. The human language capacity is represented in the brain.Even though the human language capacity is finite, one can say andunderstand an infinite number of sentences, which is based on a syntacticprinciple called Recursion. Evidence suggests that every individual has threerecursive mechanisms that allow sentences to go indeterminately. These threemechanisms are: relativization, complementation and coordination.[1] Languageacquisition usually refers to first language acquisition, which studies infantsacquisition of their native language. This is distinguished from second languageacquisition, which deals with the acquisition (in both children and adults) ofadditional languages.The capacity to acquire and use language is a key aspect that distinguisheshumans from other beings. Although it is difficult to pin down what aspects oflanguage are uniquely human, there are a few design features that can befound in all known forms of human language, but that are missing from formsof animal communication.For example, many animals are able to communicatewith each other by signaling to the things around them, but this kind ofcommunication lacks the arbitrariness of human vocabularies (in that there isnothing about the sound of the word "dog" that would hint at its meaning). Otherforms of animal communication may utilize arbitrary sounds, but are unable tocombine those sounds in different ways to create completely novel messageswhich can then be automatically understood by another.Hockett called thisdesign feature of human language "productivity." It is crucial to theunderstanding of human language acquisition that we are not limited to a finiteset of words, but, rather, must be able to understand and utilize a complexsystem that allows for an infinite number of possible messages. So, while manyforms of animal communication exist, they differ from human languages, in thatthey have a limited range of non-syntactically structured vocabulary tokens thatlack cross cultural variation between groups.A major question in understanding language acquisition is how these capacitiesare picked up by infants from what appears to be very little input. Input in thelinguistic context is defined as "All words, contexts, and other forms of languageto which a learner is exposed, relative to acquired proficiency in first or secondlanguages" It is difficult to believe, considering the hugely complex nature ofhuman languages, and the relatively limited cognitive abilities of an infant, thatinfants are able to acquire most aspects of language without being explicitlytaught. Children, within a few years of birth, understand the grammatical rules oftheir native language without being explicitly taught, as one learns grammar inschool.A range of theories of language acquisition have been proposed in orderto explain this apparent problem. These theories, championed by the likesof Noam Chomsky and others, include innatism and Psychological nativism, inwhich a child is born prepared in some manner with these capacities, asopposed to other theories in which language is simply learned as one learns toride a bike. The conflict between the traits humans are born with and those thatare a product of ones environment is often referred to as the "Nature vs.Nurture" debate. As is the case with many other human abilities and
  3. 3. characteristics, it appears that there are some qualities of language acquisitionthat the human brain is automatically wired for (a "nature" component) andsome that are shaped by the particular language environment in which a personis raised (a "nurture" component).What is mastery learning?There is a school of thought that presumes all children can learn if they areprovided with the appropriate learning conditions. Learning formastery ormastery learning, are terms coined by Benjamin Bloom in 1968 and1971 respectively. Bloom hypothesized that a classroom with a masterylearning focus as opposed to the traditional form of instruction would reduce theachievement gaps between varying groups of students In Mastery learning,"the students are helped to master each learning unit before proceeding to amore advanced learning task.Schema teory. An organized pattern of thought or behavior. A structured cluster of pre-conceived ideas. A mental structure that represents some aspect of the world. A specific knowledge structure or cognitive representation of the self. A mental framework centering on a specific theme that helps us to organize social information. Structures that organize our knowledge and assumptions about something and are used for interpreting and processing information.ConclusionWhile the majority of SLA research has been devoted to language learning in anatural setting, there have also been efforts made to investigate second-language acquisition in the classroom. This kind of research has a significantoverlap with language education, but it is always empirical, basedon data and statistics, and it is mainly concerned with the effect that instructionhas on the learner, rather than what the teacher does.The research has been wide-ranging. There have been attempts made tosystematically measure the effectiveness of language teaching practices forevery level of language, from phonetics to pragmatics, and for almost every
  4. 4. current teaching methodology. This research has indicated that many traditionallanguage-teaching techniques are extremely inefficient. cited in Ellis 1994 It isgenerally agreed that pedagogy restricted to teaching grammar rules andvocabulary lists does not give students the ability to use the L2 with accuracyand fluency. Rather, to become proficient in the second language, the learnermust be given opportunities to use it for communicative purposes.Another area of research has been on the effects of corrective feedback inassisting learners.This has been shown to vary depending on the techniqueused to make the correction, and the overall focus of the classroom, whether onformal accuracy or on communication of meaningful content. There is alsoconsiderable interest in supplementing published research with approaches thatengage language teachers in action research on learner language in their ownclassrooms As teachers become aware of the features of learner languageproduced by their students, they can refine their pedagogical intervention tomaximize interlanguage development.

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