Tema 2
Teorías generales sobre el aprendizaje y la
adquisición de una lengua extranjera.
El concepto de interlengua.
El co...
Introduction
 During the 20th century, a number of theories have been

developed on how second languages can be learned.
...
Overview
 different theories of first language (L1) acquisition,
 differences between first and second language acquisit...
First language acquisition theories
1. Imitation theory
 children learn a language

mostly through imitation of
the utterances they are
exposed to in their
s...
 Problem: children actually produce utterances they have

never heard from adults, such as “regularized” irregular verbs
...
2. Innateness
 In 1965, Chomsky

concluded that children are
born with the capacity to
process linguistic input
through t...
3. Cognition theory
 FromPiaget’s research on

development (19??).
 He does not completely deny
the existence of some in...
Piaget’s four stages
 Sensorimotor stage (0 to 2 yrs.) children begin to understand

their environment.
 Preoperational ...
4. Input theory
 based on parental input or

“motherese” (1970s.)
 It is a particular adaptation of
language for first l...
Acquisition of L1
vs. Acquisition of L2
Similarities
 subconscious processes that

help produce language
without reflection
 personality and contextual
factors ...
Differences
 L1 acquisition occurs before the age of

5
 L2 usually occurs after that age.
 I.e. learners over five yea...
Main theories on L1
acquisition
1.Behaviorism
 Fom Pavlov’s experiments on animal behavior.
 There are three main processes of habit formation,:
 Class...
B.F. Skinner
 B.F. Skinner considers language an

example of operant conditioning.
 That is, “good” language is
rewarded...
2. Cognitivism or Mentalism
 Speakers can reflect upon their learning, not only repeat.
 Based on the theories of the Ge...
Universal grammar
 Children are endowed with a Language

Acquisition Device that contains a component
known as Universal ...
L2 acquisition theories
Accomodation theory
Introduction
 It focuses on our ability to adapt our

style of speech in relation to the
setting, the topic of discourse,...
1. Convergence-Divergence
 If we choose to adapt our

speech to our interlocutors
in speed, vocabulary range,
register, e...
2. Similarity-attraction theory
 The more similar our attitudes

and beliefs are, the more we will
be attracted to our
in...
3. Social exchange theory
 Convergence/divergence is often

influenced by the social attitudes we
hold toward specific gr...
4. Causal attribution theory
 Causal attribution theory

describes how we tend to give
motives to the utterances of a
spe...
5. Intergroup distinctiveness
 Developed by Tajfel, also

explains why divergence
sometimes is a valid
option, as it resp...
The acculturation model
Introduction
 Assimilation of one group’s cultural traits by

another group.
 From the language teaching perspective, se...
Main factors
 Psychological factor refers to the

individual affective interactions of the learner
with the language,
 S...
Factors that influence L2 acculturation
(Smith)
 communicative function, which

affects transmission of information
 int...
Discourse theory
 Based on Dell Hymes’ theory of

communicative competence.
 Communicative competence not only
takes int...
Other theories
Krashen’s Monitor model
 1. There is a basic difference between

acquisition and learning, i.e.
acquisition is an unconsc...
Krashen’s Monitor model
 3. The monitor hypothesis poses that as

learners we are capable of self-supervising
our utteran...
Krashen’s Monitor model
 5. Finally, the affective filter

hypothesis pays attention to the
emotional and psychological
d...
Cognitive theory
 It focuses on the role general cognitive processes play






on L2 learning.
It presents a learner...
Interlanguage (IL)
General features
 Selinker, 1972. Not exactly a L2 acquisition theory.
 IL is a language system between L1 and L2 that

...
Some IL processes
 Language transfer, which shows the influence of the

speaker’s native language on the target language....
Some IL processes
 Transfer of training, where a rule enters IL through

instruction (can be positive or negative)
 Stra...
Error theory
General features
 Developed by Corder (1967)
 Slips occur both on native and non-native

speakers and are usually self-c...
Types of error
 Interlingual errors (where speakers transfer

from L1)
 Intralingual errors, which are usually similar t...
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Tema 2

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Tema 2

  1. 1. Tema 2 Teorías generales sobre el aprendizaje y la adquisición de una lengua extranjera. El concepto de interlengua. El concepto del error.
  2. 2. Introduction  During the 20th century, a number of theories have been developed on how second languages can be learned.  Generally these theories are influenced by:  theories on learning in general  theories on how children acquire their first language.  As a consequence, an overview on second language (L2) acquisition approaches is not complete without them.
  3. 3. Overview  different theories of first language (L1) acquisition,  differences between first and second language acquisition.  main theories about how second languages are acquired.  Interlanguage and error and their influence in L2 teaching.
  4. 4. First language acquisition theories
  5. 5. 1. Imitation theory  children learn a language mostly through imitation of the utterances they are exposed to in their surroundings,  with the help of corrections and reinforcement, their linguistic abilities increase.
  6. 6.  Problem: children actually produce utterances they have never heard from adults, such as “regularized” irregular verbs (*bringed, *catched).  Furthermore, young children, even when elicited to do so, are unable to reproduce certain grammatical structures. E.g. Function words take longer to develop properly.
  7. 7. 2. Innateness  In 1965, Chomsky concluded that children are born with the capacity to process linguistic input through the so-called Language Acquisition Device  This would explain in his opinion the ease and speed with which language is acquired.
  8. 8. 3. Cognition theory  FromPiaget’s research on development (19??).  He does not completely deny the existence of some innate capacity to acquire language.  No separate language module  Language is acquired along with other means of processing the environment.
  9. 9. Piaget’s four stages  Sensorimotor stage (0 to 2 yrs.) children begin to understand their environment.  Preoperational stage (2 to 7 yrs.) children begin to understand concrete symbols  Operational stage (7 to 11 yrs.) children’s ability to process language and mental tasks is reinforced.  Formal operational stage (from 11 yrs onwards) children acquire the ability to fully process abstract information
  10. 10. 4. Input theory  based on parental input or “motherese” (1970s.)  It is a particular adaptation of language for first language acquisition,  It is not a universal feature, does have certain traits that facilitate it, such as simplicity, clarity, expressivity and a tendency to be attentioncatching.
  11. 11. Acquisition of L1 vs. Acquisition of L2
  12. 12. Similarities  subconscious processes that help produce language without reflection  personality and contextual factors that influence the individual production of each student.
  13. 13. Differences  L1 acquisition occurs before the age of 5  L2 usually occurs after that age.  I.e. learners over five years old are unable to fully process the phonetic, grammatical, pragmatic and semantic modules in the same way that a native speaker can.  Furthermore, fossilization is likely to occur in L2 acquisition as most learners often retain non-native forms as grammatical, and transferences from L1 are frequent
  14. 14. Main theories on L1 acquisition
  15. 15. 1.Behaviorism  Fom Pavlov’s experiments on animal behavior.  There are three main processes of habit formation,:  Classical conditioning : association of a response to a stimulus through repetition. E.g. a dog will begin salivating when it hears a bell if food is consistently accompanied by the sound of a bell; even if food is not provided in the experiment.  Operant conditioning describes the learning of a conscious behavior that brings a desired response. E.g. a rat will press a handle, if it learns that after that action food it will be given food.  Multiple response learning is a complex development of operant conditioning, which requires more than one action. E.g., rats learning a particular route through a maze that brings them them the desired reward.
  16. 16. B.F. Skinner  B.F. Skinner considers language an example of operant conditioning.  That is, “good” language is rewarded, whereas ungrammatical, incoherent or inappropriate language is not.  Well extended L2 teaching methods such as the Audiolingual Method is a direct heir of this approach.  This method disregards the learner’s autonomy to process their environment in creative ways and proved to be insufficient.
  17. 17. 2. Cognitivism or Mentalism  Speakers can reflect upon their learning, not only repeat.  Based on the theories of the Gestalt school  Insightful learning is achieved with a sudden, immediate, repeatable and transposable flash of inspiration.  Noam Chomsky’s review of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (1959)  Animal behavior in laboratory conditions should not be extrapolated to human behavior.  There are a number of grammatical rules that all native speakers know, which allow them to create an infinite number of sentences.  Competence→ performance.
  18. 18. Universal grammar  Children are endowed with a Language Acquisition Device that contains a component known as Universal Grammar.  This Universal Grammar component is later specified in the grammar of their native tongues.  Cognitivism also considers that L2 learning is constructed through hypothesis testing, which means the learner constructs hypothesis that he/she later tests for validity.  Rejection then may lead to revision of rule and the generation of a new hypothesis. This theory is an important factor of interlanguage and may be either conscious or unconscious.
  19. 19. L2 acquisition theories
  20. 20. Accomodation theory
  21. 21. Introduction  It focuses on our ability to adapt our style of speech in relation to the setting, the topic of discourse, the person we are interacting with, our purposes, etc.  This theory highlights the “accommodative” nature of communication. It also explains why individuals choose a communication style over another.
  22. 22. 1. Convergence-Divergence  If we choose to adapt our speech to our interlocutors in speed, vocabulary range, register, etc. we can say we are converging with them  If we separate ourselves from them, we talk about a case of divergence.
  23. 23. 2. Similarity-attraction theory  The more similar our attitudes and beliefs are, the more we will be attracted to our interlocutors.  As a consequence, we tend to overlook the linguistic mistakes of our acquaintances and we tend to use phatic expressions to signal our good relationships.  Those with low social approval usally converge to the language of their social “superiors”.
  24. 24. 3. Social exchange theory  Convergence/divergence is often influenced by the social attitudes we hold toward specific groups of speakers.  E.g. RP is chosen in Britain by most middle- and upper-class speakers, as its users are considered better educated and more intelligent  At times a “downward” convergence may be seen when the speaker wants to identify himself with his listeners (e.g. a politician at a meeting)
  25. 25. 4. Causal attribution theory  Causal attribution theory describes how we tend to give motives to the utterances of a speaker in order to interpret their purposes. This explains why convergence can backfire at times and why sometimes divergence can be preferable.
  26. 26. 5. Intergroup distinctiveness  Developed by Tajfel, also explains why divergence sometimes is a valid option, as it responds to the need by certain groups to ascertain their selfimage, their prestige or their independence.  E.g. youth slang or professional terms.
  27. 27. The acculturation model
  28. 28. Introduction  Assimilation of one group’s cultural traits by another group.  From the language teaching perspective, second language acquisition is a trait of acculturation and the degree of acculturation influences the degree of language acquisition.  To give a practical example, we are all aware of the improvements many students undergo when exposed to the foreign language in its cultural context (e.g., on a language exchange tour).  This theory is also very relevant in relation to immigrant groups.
  29. 29. Main factors  Psychological factor refers to the individual affective interactions of the learner with the language,  Sociological factor: the social group of the learner and its cultural relations with the target language.  Schuman: A good learning environment is influenced by:  equality or inequality of the L2 learners in relation to the L2 language group  willingness to remain in the L2 country and assimilate  cohesiveness as a group  positive or negative attitudes both groups hold towards each other.
  30. 30. Factors that influence L2 acculturation (Smith)  communicative function, which affects transmission of information  integrating function, which marks the speaker as a member of a group, and finally  expressive function, which uses the language for virtuosity.  Second-language learners might stay at the communicative function level, and if they remain there, we may speak of fossilization.
  31. 31. Discourse theory  Based on Dell Hymes’ theory of communicative competence.  Communicative competence not only takes into account grammar competence but also sociolinguistic and appropriacy conventions.  According to discourse theorists, language acquisition is not complete unless the learner has some knowledge of social and pragmatic conventions, besides grammatical competence.  They also affirm that language arises from social interaction.
  32. 32. Other theories
  33. 33. Krashen’s Monitor model  1. There is a basic difference between acquisition and learning, i.e. acquisition is an unconscious skill while learning is conscious and based on memory.  2. The natural order hypothesis, which has developed a hierarchy of language acquisition that is predictable almost universally both on children and L2 learners (e.g., the verb to be is learnt first as a copula and then as an auxiliary, and later in time its contracted versions equally occur first as a copula and secondly as an auxiliary)
  34. 34. Krashen’s Monitor model  3. The monitor hypothesis poses that as learners we are capable of self-supervising our utterances and self-correct them if we are given enough time, if we are focused on form and know the rule. This accounts for the importance of allowing students for time to analyze their utterances themselves.  4. The input hypothesis gives importance to the need to adjust the “input” or amount of new information, to the student. This input must be comprehensible through our knowledge of “context” and also must offer an attainable amount of new information.
  35. 35. Krashen’s Monitor model  5. Finally, the affective filter hypothesis pays attention to the emotional and psychological dynamics of the classroom, and how a low affective filter (i.e. a good self-image, high motivation and low anxiety) can promote learning.
  36. 36. Cognitive theory  It focuses on the role general cognitive processes play     on L2 learning. It presents a learner that acts, constructs and plans. An important aspect of cognitive theory is also its contraposition of “rote” vs. “meaningful learning”. “Rote” is described as arbitrary and verbatim learning, which hinders its assimilation on the learners’ main linguistic system (e.g. the learning of phrasal verbs in lists) Meaningful learning is integrated into previous cognitive frames, thus facilitating the mastering and retention of the rule (e.g. if these phrasal verbs are learnt lexically, focusing on their meaning rather than on their form)
  37. 37. Interlanguage (IL)
  38. 38. General features  Selinker, 1972. Not exactly a L2 acquisition theory.  IL is a language system between L1 and L2 that     learners use while acquiring their second language skills. This system is different and independent from both and has particular traits. IL is permeable, that is, it is subject to constant revision on the part of the learner. It is also dynamic, as it is constantly changing, although very slowly. Finally, it is systematic, as it is made of predictable, understandable and coherent rules for the learner.
  39. 39. Some IL processes  Language transfer, which shows the influence of the speaker’s native language on the target language. (e.g. *more happy)  Overgeneralization of L2 rules, where a learner extends the use of rules he knows to the whole system (e.g. using the –ed ending for irregulars)
  40. 40. Some IL processes  Transfer of training, where a rule enters IL through instruction (can be positive or negative)  Strategies of L2 learning, e.g. memorization, use of dictionary…  Communication strategies, e.g. pointing, hypernyms, etc.
  41. 41. Error theory
  42. 42. General features  Developed by Corder (1967)  Slips occur both on native and non-native speakers and are usually self-corrected automatically by the utterer.  Mistakes are exclusive of non-native speakers and can be corrected if the learners have the mistakes pointed out to them either immediately (first-order mistakes) or when they are given clues as to where the mistake lies (grammar, semantic, etc). These are called second-order mistakes.  Errors, finally, are those that need the learning of a new rule as they cannot be self-corrected.
  43. 43. Types of error  Interlingual errors (where speakers transfer from L1)  Intralingual errors, which are usually similar to those made by children and which are indicative of the learner’s active processing of input.  Errors can be classified also according to their linguistic category:  substance errors (errors of speaking, writing, listening or reading)  text errors (i.e. errors of composing spoken or written texts; or errors on decoding oral or written texts)  discourse errors (i.e. errors of formulation in spoken or written texts; or errors on understanding oral or written texts)

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