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What teen learners can learn from children

It is commonly believed that children are better at learning foreign languages than older learners. Do we lose our language learning ability with age or do we change our approach to language learning? In this talk I look at some successful strategies child learners use which teenage learners can draw on and their teachers can tap into.

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ETAI Annual
National
conference
9 July 2014
WHAT TEEN LEARNERS
CAN LEARN FROM
CHILDREN
Leo Selivan
 Ability to acquire language is linked to age
 Gradual decline in language learning ability
after puberty
 “Biological clock” of the brain
CRITICAL PERIOD HYPOTHESIS
A child’s mind
Image credit:
@aClilToClimb
eltpics on Flickr
Lateralization of brain function
Image credit:
vaXzine via Flickr
[CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
LANGUAGE ACQUISITION DEVICE
Image credit:
Tartanactivist via Flickr
LANGUAGE ACQUISITION DEVICE
Image credit:
Tartanactivist via Flickr

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What teen learners can learn from children

  • 1. ETAI Annual National conference 9 July 2014 WHAT TEEN LEARNERS CAN LEARN FROM CHILDREN Leo Selivan
  • 2.  Ability to acquire language is linked to age  Gradual decline in language learning ability after puberty  “Biological clock” of the brain CRITICAL PERIOD HYPOTHESIS
  • 3. A child’s mind Image credit: @aClilToClimb eltpics on Flickr
  • 4. Lateralization of brain function Image credit: vaXzine via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
  • 5. LANGUAGE ACQUISITION DEVICE Image credit: Tartanactivist via Flickr
  • 6. LANGUAGE ACQUISITION DEVICE Image credit: Tartanactivist via Flickr
  • 8. LearningAcquisition KRASHEN’S MODEL • Subconscious process • Similar to L1 learning • Conscious process • Formal instruction
  • 10. Child learners see language as a tool for communication often do not make a conscious decision to study a foreign language do not worry about making mistakes Older learners are aware of language as a phenomenon in its own right world knowledge & metalinguistic knowledge different goals, needs, motivation… DIFFERENCES
  • 11. “The differences between a child learner and an older learner need not be solely – and perhaps not even primarily – to do with what the brain can handle so much as the profound differences in how children and adults engage with the world.” Wray 2007, p. 256 THE AGE FACTOR OR… AGE FACTORS ?
  • 12.  Example of a very successful learner  Sociable personality; effective social and learning strategies  Memorised and used recurring word sequences like dese, right here, in the high school CASE STUDY: 5 YEAR-OLD NORA Fillmore 1979
  • 14. Idioms fly off the handle Fixed phrases if all else fails Collocations submit a proposal FORMULAIC LANGUAGE
  • 15. Idioms fly off the handle Fixed phrases if all else fails Collocations submit a proposal FORMULAIC LANGUAGE Short expressions apart from, rather than… Lexico-grammatical chunks it’s been a long time since…
  • 16. den Zug verpassen auf der einen Seite . . . auf der anderen Seite Übung macht den Meister vorsätzliches Missverhalten From Peters(2012) NOT ONLY IN ENGLISH
  • 17. den Zug verpassen (to miss the train) auf der einen Seite . . . auf der anderen Seite (on the one hand . . . on the other hand) Übung macht den Meister (practice makes perfect) vorsätzliches Missverhalten (willful misconduct) From Peters (2012) NOT ONLY IN ENGLISH
  • 18.  Ubiquitous in language (55 - 80% of discourse is formulaic)  Help realise various functions  Serve as a basis for fluency  A vehicle of language acquisition (?) FORMULAIC LANGUAGE
  • 19. ‫מחר‬ ‫עובד‬ ‫אתה‬?‫זה‬ ‫מחר‬ ‫אבל‬‫שמח‬ ‫חג‬! I like to go to the cinema city Je m’appele EVIDENCE FROM MISAPPLIED CHUNKS
  • 20. THE SOUTHAMPTON STUDY Learners rely on memorised chunks to produce new utterances Comment t’appelles-tu? What's your name? / What are you called? Classroom learners of French Myles, Mitchell & Hooper 1998
  • 21. THE SOUTHAMPTON STUDY Learners rely on memorised chunks to produce new utterances Comment t’appelles-tu? What's your name? / What are you called? *Comment t’appelles-tu, le garcon? *What are you called, the boy? *Comment t’appelles-tu, la fille? *What are you called, the girl? Classroom learners of French Myles, Mitchell & Hooper 1998
  • 22.  Learners’ early correctly produced grammatical structures are chunks  New utterances are beyond their current level of grammatical competence  Grammar eventually catches up with formulaic language THE SOUTHAMPTON STUDY: CONCLUSIONS Myles, Mitchell & Hooper 1998
  • 23. Two approaches Children don’t need to learn grammar because its principles are innate Grammar is an abstraction of regularities from a large repertoire of formulas GRAMMAR ACQUISITION IN L1 Ellis 2012
  • 24. Two approaches Children don’t need to learn grammar because its principles are innate Grammar is an abstraction of regularities from a large repertoire of formulas GRAMMAR ACQUISITION IN L1 Ellis 2012
  • 25. Children don’t need to learn grammar because its principles are innate Grammar is an abstraction of regularities from a large repertoire of formulas GRAMMAR ACQUISITION IN L1 Ellis 2012 Same process in L2 ?
  • 28. THE ADULT ‘APPROACH’ TO L2 break it down extract rules reassemble it Wray (2008)
  • 29. Image credit: Benjamin D. Esham via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0] ‘Lego’ approach
  • 30. Elementary school How are you? Good morning Where do you live? Let’s go Middle school I went to school Did you go to school? I didn’t go to school L2 TEACHING
  • 34. I don't know I don't understand I don't believe it I don't care CHUNKS FIRST
  • 35. I don't know I don't understand I don't believe it I don't care Instead of a more ‘traditional’ approach I believe it – I don't believe it. - Do I believe it? CHUNKS FIRST
  • 36. What are you doing? What are you reading? What are you saying? What are you waiting for? CHUNKS FIRST
  • 37. How long have you been… How long have you known… How long have you lived… How long have you had… How long have you worked… PROBABLE LANGUAGE
  • 38. How long have you been… How long have you known… How long have you lived… How long have you had… How long have you worked… PROBABLE LANGUAGE more than 50% of all occurrences of this pattern in the British National Corpus (BNC)
  • 39. Elementary students How are you? Good morning Where do you live? Let’s go EXTENDING EARLY ‘CHUNK PHASE’
  • 40. Elementary students How are you? Good morning Where do you live? Let’s go Intermediate students I’ve never heard of it. She lives on her own. What do you want me to do? EXTENDING EARLY ‘CHUNK PHASE’
  • 41. Back home in Vietnam I was a doctor. But when I wanted to work here, they told me I had to get a British degree. I didn’t have enough money to study and I needed to support my wife and children. To begin with, I worked in two different places – I did cleaning jobs during the day and at night I worked in a pizza take-away. I hated it, but after a few years I saved up enough money to do a nursing course and now I work in a big local hospital. HIGHLIGHTING USEFUL CHUNKS From Innovations Pre-Intermediate by H. Dellar & A. Walkley Cengage- Heinle
  • 42. Back home in Vietnam I was a doctor. But when I wanted to work here, they told me I had to get a British degree. I didn’t have enough money to study and I needed to support my wife and children. To begin with, I worked in two different places – I did cleaning jobs during the day and at night I worked in a pizza take-away. I hated it, but after a few years I saved up enough money to do a nursing course and now I work in a big local hospital. HIGHLIGHTING USEFUL CHUNKS From Innovations Pre-Intermediate by H. Dellar & A. Walkley Cengage- Heinle
  • 43. TAKING CARE OF “DIFFICULT” GRAMMAR I’ve never seen Harry Potter One of the most difficult problems I’ve had to deal with was… The issue of … has become increasingly… … has become a major topic in recent years Speaking Writing
  • 45. USING QUIZLET FOR CHUNKS http://quizlet.com/_jqc7r
  • 47.  Expose learners to formulaic language  Introduce learning strategies to record and practise chunks  Set up situations where learners can practise and recycle them  Provide MORE authentic input (MUSIC, MOVIES) CONCLUSIONS
  • 48.  Exposure to formulaic language is not enough - Need explicit focus in class  Find out what chunks are relevant to learners  Don’t be too anxious to move into explanations. Memorization should precede analysis. CONCLUSIONS (CONT.)
  • 49. Ellis, N. C. (2012). Formulaic language and second language acquisition: Zipf and the phrasal teddy bear. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 32 , 17-44 Wong Fillmore, L. (1979). Individual differences in second language acquisition. In C. J. Fillmore, D. Kempler, & S-Y. W. Wang (eds.), Individual differences in language ability and language behavior. New York: Academic Press, 203–228 Myles, F., J. Hooper & R. Mitchell (1998). Rote or rule? Exploring the role of formulaic language in classroom foreign language learning. Language Learning 48(3), 323–363 Peters, E. (2012). Learning German formulaic sequences: The effect of two attention drawing techniques. Language Learning Journal, 40, 65-79 Singleton, D. (1989). Language Acquisition: The Age Factor. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Warga, M. (2005). “Je serais tres merciable”: Formulaic vs. creatively produced speech ` in learners’ request-closing. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 8(1), 67–93 Wray, A. (2008). The puzzle of language learning: From child’s play to ‘ linguaphobia’. Language Teaching 41(2), 253–271 REFERENCES
  • 50. Email leosel@hotmail.com Blog http://leoxicon.blogspot.com Go to the Presentations tab to download a copy of this Power Point CONTACT