Toward a Theory of Second Language Acquisition


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Summary of Chapter 10- Toward a Theory of Second Language Acquisition form the book Principles of Language Learning and Teaching by H. Douglas Brown

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  • Adult SLL have two means for internalizing the target language (Krashen, 1981)
    In order to acquire language, the learner needs a source of natural communication. The emphasis is on the text of the communication and not on the form. Young students who are in the process of acquiring English get plenty of “on the job” practice. They readily acquire the language to communicate with classmates.

    Language learning, on the other hand, is not communicative. It is the result of direct instruction in the rules of language. And it certainly is not an age-appropriate activity for your young learners. In language learning, students have conscious knowledge of the new language and can talk about that knowledge. They can fill in the blanks on a grammar page. Research has shown, however, that knowing grammar rules does not necessarily result in good speaking or writing.r A student who has memorized the rules of the language may be able to succeed on a standardized test of English language but may not be able to speak or write correctly.
  • Toward a Theory of Second Language Acquisition

    1. 1. RUZAINI BINTI IBRAHIM GS37936 NUR LIYANA BT SAHRIF GS37001 OKOH GRACE IFEOMA GS 39937 Toward a Theory of Second Language Acquisition
    2. 2. Introduction Second language learning is a complex process. According to Larsen- Freeman (1997), complexity means there are so many separate interrelated factors within one intricate entity that it is exceedingly difficult to bring order and simplicity to that “chaos”.
    3. 3. Building a Theory of SLA This part will cover the following topics: • Domains and Generalizations • Hypothesis and Claims • Criteria for a Viable Theory
    4. 4. Building a Theory of SLA Several decades ago Yorio (1976), proposed a taxonomy - Classification of Learner Variables. (Figure 10.1, Pg.: 286). The taxonomy shows many different domains of inquiry that must be included in a theory of SLA.
    5. 5. Domains and Generalizations 1) Age 2) Cognition 3) Native language 4) Input 5) Affective Domain 6) Educational Background Classification of learner Variables (Yorio, 1976).
    6. 6. Domains and Generalizations (1) A set of domains of consideration in a theory of SLA include: 1) General understanding of what language is, what learning is & what teaching is. 2) Knowledge of how children learn their L1. 3) Understand the differences between adult and child learning and between first and second language acquisition. 4) General principles of human learning and intelligence controls to second language learning. A set of domains of consideration in a theory of SLA include: 1) General understanding of what language is, what learning is & what teaching is. 2) Knowledge of how children learn their L1. 3) Understand the differences between adult and child learning and between first and second language acquisition. 4) General principles of human learning and intelligence controls to second language learning.
    7. 7. Domains and Generalizations (2) 5) Personality- the way people view themselves and reveal themselves in communication. 6) Affect quantity and quality of L2 learning. 7) Learning a second language is often intricately intertwined with learning a second culture. 8) The acquisition of communicative competence is in many ways language socialization- ultimate goal of L2 learners. 9) The linguistic contrasts between the native and target language form one source of difficulty in learning L2.
    8. 8. Domains and Generalizations (3) • Beneficial learner strategies cannot be specified without reference to age, human learning in general, and some crucial affective factors. • In comparing and contrasting the first and second language acquisition, it is impossible to ignore affective and cultural variables and differences between adult and child cognition. • Determining the source of L2 learner’s error inevitably involves consideration of cognitive strategies and styles, group dynamics and even the validity of data –gathering procedures. • No single component of this “theory” is sufficient alone: the interaction and interdependence of other components are necessary.
    9. 9. Hypothesis and Claims  A theory of SLA is an interrelated set of hypotheses/ claims about how people become proficient in a second language.  The popular hypothesis/ claims include:  Ten Generalizations about SLA (Lightbown, 1985)  Claims of Lightbown and Spada (1993)- Myths about SLA
    10. 10. Lightbown's Ten Generalizations about SLA (1) 1) Adults and adolescents can "acquire" a second language. 2) The learner creates a systematic interlanguage that is often characterized by the same systematic errors as [those of] the child learning the same language as the first language, as well as others based on the learner's own native language. 3) There are predictable sequences in acquisition so that certain structures have to be acquired before others can be integrated. 4) Practice does not make perfect. 5) Knowing a language rule does not mean one will be able to use it in communicative interaction. In summary of research findings on SLA , Lightbown (1985) has made the following claims:
    11. 11. Lightbown's Ten Generalizations about SLA (2) 6) Isolated explicit error correction is usually ineffective in changing language behaviour. 7) For adult learners, acquisition stops- “fossilizes”- before the learner has achieved nativelike mastery of the target language. 8) One cannot achieve nativelike command of a second language in one hour a day. 9) The learner’s task is enormous because language is enormously complex. 10) A learner’s ability to understand language in a meaningful context exceeds his or her ability to comprehend decontextualized language and to produce language of comparable complexity and accuracy.
    12. 12. Myths about SLA •Languages are learned mainly through imitation.1 •Parents usually correct young children when they make errors. 2 •People with high IQs are good language learners.3 •The earlier a second language is introduced in school programs, the greater the likelihood of success in learning. 4 •Most of the mistakes that second language learners make are due to interference from their first language. 5 •Learners' errors should be corrected as soon as they are made in order to prevent the formation of bad habits. 6 Following are some myths about SLA that may not be supported by research (Lightbown & Spada 1993:111-116): Certain claims about SLA demand caution; prefaced with a "Well, it depends" sort of caveat.
    13. 13. Group Activity: SLA Myths Instructions: i. Figure out why each statement is a myth ii. Provide examples or counter-examples in the language classroom. 1) Languages are learned mainly through imitation. 2) Parents usually correct young children when they make errors. 3) People with high IQs are good language learners. 4) The earlier a second language is introduced in school programs, the greater the likelihood of success in learning. 5) Most of the mistakes that second language learners make are due to interference from their first language. 6) Learners' errors should be corrected as soon as they are made in order to prevent the formation of bad habits.
    14. 14. Criteria for a Viable Theory Larsen- Freeman (1997) suggested some lessons from chaos theory to help us design a theory of SLA: Beware of false dichotomies (contradictions). Look for complementarity, inclusiveness and interface. Beware of linear, causal approaches to theorizing because SLA is very complex with so many interacting factors. Beware of overgeneralizations- focus on details. Beware of reductionist thinking- oversimplifying a complex system. • Diane Larsen-Freeman (1997), argued that SLA is a dynamic, complex and non-linear system • Each learner takes a different path to achieve success.
    15. 15. Long’s Criteria for a Theory of SLA 1 • Account for universals. 2 •Account for environmental factors. 3 •Account for variability in age, acquisition rate and proficiency level. 4 •Explain both cognitive and affective factors. 5 •Account for form-focused learning, not just subconscious acquisition. 6 •Account for other variables besides exposure and input. 7 •Account for cognitive/ innate factors which explain interlanguage systematicity. 8 •Recognize that acquisition not a steady accumulation of generalizations. Michael Long (1990) offered eight criteria for a comprehensive theory of SLA:
    16. 16. Hot Topics in SLA Research Help define terms not covered in previous chapters and review crucial terms in understanding theoretical models of SLA. Explicit and Implicit Learning Awareness Input and Output Frequency
    17. 17. Explicit and Implicit Learning (1) Researchers are still occupied with the questions about the effectiveness of explicit and implicit learning. Explicit Learning- involves conscious awareness and attention. Implicit Learning- learning without conscious attention or awareness. Related concepts: intentional and incidental learning. Attention can occur under both conditions.
    18. 18. Explicit and Implicit Learning (2) There is a universal agreement that both explicit and implicit learning offer advantages and disadvantages. The central questions are complex: Under what conditions, for which learners and for what linguistic elements is one approach is advantageous to SLA? How are we to measure (Ellis, 2004) explicit knowledge? Generalizations are not possible, all the specifics of a given context should be considered before making a conclusion.
    19. 19. Awareness (1) Noticing may be an essential prerequisite to a learner’s ability to convert input into intake (Schmidt, 1990; Robinson, 2003; Ellis, 1997; Leow, 2000). Input refers to the subset of all input that actually gets assigned to our long-term memory store. Intake is what you take with you over a period of time and can later remember. Awareness is similar to conscious ( vs. subconscious) learning, where learners are intentionally controlling their attention and some aspect of input and output. Schmidt’s (1990) proposed the noticing hypothesis in which he suggested a central role for focal attention, stemming from awareness, for a learner to notice language input.
    20. 20. Awareness (2) The debate over requisite levels of awareness in SLA is complex and demands a careful specification of conditions before any conclusion can be offered. It seems advantageous that learners are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and to consciously employ strategic options in their learning (Brown, 2002). Certain degree of focus on form can be beneficial. However, many learners are much too consciously involved in the forms of the target language that it blocks their ability to focus on meaning.
    21. 21. Input and Output There is still a great debate over what constitutes optimal quality of input and output. Both input and output are necessary processes, which are in varying degree of complementary distribution in L2 learners’ language learning process. Output- is the production of language (speaking and writing). Input- the process of comprehending language (listening and reading). The relationship of input to output in SLA was controversial but is becoming less so.
    22. 22. Frequency Frequency- how many times a specific word, structure, or other defined element of language captures the attention of a learner. Frequency may be more important than we once thought. Educators cannot simply ignore the possibility that frequency can potentially influence acquisition.
    23. 23. Innatist Model: Krashen’s Input Hypothesis  One of the most controversial theoretical perspectives in SLA  Proposed by Stephen Krashen (1997, 1981, 1992, 1985, 1992, 1997) Monitor Model Acquisition- Learning Hypothesis Input Hypothesis
    24. 24. Innatist Model: Krashen’s Input Hypothesis Acquisition- Learning Hypothesis Monitor Hypothesis Natural Order Hypothesis Input Hypothesis Affective Filter Hypothesis
    25. 25. 1.Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis Acquisition • Subconscious & intuitive process of constructing the system of language. Learning • Conscious learning process in which learners attend to form, figure out rules, aware of their own process.
    26. 26. 1. Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis (1) Krashen (1981) “Fluency in second language performance is due to what we have acquired, not what we have learned.” • Adults should do as much acquiring as possible in order to achieve communicative fluency; other wise they will get stucked in: -rule learning -too much conscious attention to forms of language & watching own progress. Krashen (1982) • Conscious learning processes and subconscious acquisition processes are mutually exclusive: -Learning cannot become acquisition • “No interface” between acquisition & learning is used to strengthen the argument; -large doses of acquisition activity in classroom -minor role assigned to learning
    27. 27. 2. Monitor Hypothesis  “Monitor” involved in learning, not acquisition  A device for “watchdogging” one’s output: Editing Making alterations, or Corrections (consciously perceived)  Explicit and intentional learning are largely avoided, as it is presumed to hinder acquisition.  Once fluency is established, optimal amount of monitoring or editing be employed by learner. (Krashen, 1981)
    28. 28. 3. Natural Order Hypothesis  We acquire language rules in a predictable or ‘natural’ order.  Follows the earlier morpheme order studies of Dulay and Burt (1974, 1976).
    29. 29. 4. Input Hypothesis (1)  Comprehensible input is the only true cause of second language acquisition.  Important condition for language acquisition to occur: the acquirer understand (via hearing /reading) input language that contains structure a bit beyond his/her current level of competence.
    30. 30. 4. Input Hypothesis (2)  If acquirer at the stage ‘i’, the input he/she understands should contain i+1. (Krashen, 1981).  Language exposed should be just far enough beyond their current competence, that they can understand most of it but still be challenged to make progress.  Input should neither so far beyond (i + 2), nor so close to their current level (i + 0). (not challenged at all)  Krashen’s recommendation: speaking not be taught directly or very early in language classroom. Speech will emerge once acquirer has built enough comprehensible input (i + 1).
    31. 31. 5. Affective Filter Hypothesis Environments where anxiety is low, defensiveness absent = best acquisition
    32. 32. Evaluations of Five Hypothesis Critique on the distinction between subconcious (acquisition) and conscious (learning process) No interface, overlap between acquisition and learning. • Second language learning is a process in which varying degrees of learning and of acquisition can both be beneficial, depending on one;s own styles and strategies • (Swain, 1998) Implication that the notion of i +1 is a novel idea; reiteration of a general principle of learning that has been discussed. • Ausubel’s terms • Vygotsky’s ZPD
    33. 33. The Output Hypothesis (1)  It is important to distinguish between input and intake.  Input: information that gets assigned to out long- term memory store.  Intake: what you take with you over a period of time and can later remember.
    34. 34.  Krashen (1983) suggests that input gets converted to intake through a learner’s process of linking forms to meaning and noticing “gaps” between the learner’s current internalized rule system and new input.  Seliger (1983) broader conceptualization of the role of input that gives learners more credit for eventual success. The Output Hypothesis (2) HIGH INPUT GENERATORS (HIGs) LOW INPUT GENERATORS (LIGs)
    35. 35. The Output Hypothesis (3) HIGH INPUT GENERATORS (HIGs) LOW INPUT GENERATORS (LIGs) People who are good at initiating and sustaining interaction, or generating input from teachers, etc. Passive learners who do less efforts to get input directed toward them, Learners who maintained high levels of interaction (HIGs) in second language, progressed faster than learners who interacted little in classroom. (Seliger, 1983)
    36. 36. The Output Hypothesis (4) Three Major Output in SLA Speech and writing can offer a means for learner to reflect on language itself in interaction with peers. Output serves as a means to try out one’s language to test various hypothesis that are forming. While attempting to produce target language, learners may notice their erroneous attempts to convey meaning • Swain (2005, 1995) suggested three major functions of output in SLA.
    37. 37. Cognitive Models McLaughlin’s Attention- Processing Model Implicit and Explicit Models
    38. 38. McLaughlin’s Attention-Processing Models (1)  A more sound heuristic for conceptualizing language acquisition process, and one that avoid any direct appeal to a consciousness continuum.  Proposed by Mclaughlin and his colleagues; (McLaughlin, 1990b, 1987; McLeod & McLaughlin, 1986; McLaughlin, Rossman, & McLeod, 1983; McLaughlin, 1978)
    39. 39. McLaughlin’s Attention-Processing Models (2) Attention to Formal Properties of Language INFORMATION PROCESSING Controlled Automatic Focal (Cell A) Performance based on formal rule learning (Cell B) Performance in a test situation Peripheral (Cell C) Performance based on implicit learning or analogic learning (Cell D) Performance in communication situations Table 10.1. Possible second language performance as a function of information- processing procedures and attention to formal properties of language (McLaughlin et al., 1983)
    40. 40. McLaughlin’s Attention-Processing Models (3) Controlled Processes: Typical process of learning new skill, only few elements of skill can be retained. Automatic Processes: Processing more accomplished skill, brain can manage a lot of information simultaneously. Characterized as fast, effortless, unconscious and independent of the amount of information being processed. Segalowitz, 2003
    41. 41. McLaughlin’s Attention-Processing Models (4)  Automatic processes: The automatizing of the multiplicity data is accomplished by a process of restructuring in which the components of a task are coordinated, integrated into new units, and allows the old component to be replaced by a more efficient procedure.  Both ends of this continuum of processing can occur with either focal (focusing attention centrally)or peripheral attention (focusing attention on the periphery) .
    42. 42. McLaughlin’s Attention-Processing Models (5) CONTROLLED: New skill, capacity limited AUTOMATIC: Well trained, practiced skill capacity is relatively unlimited Focal Intentional Attention A. Grammatical explanation of a specific point Word definition Copy of a written model The first stages of “memorizing” a dialog Prefabricated patterns Various discrete-point exercises B. “Keeping an eye out” for something Advanced L2 learner focuses on modals, formation, etc. Monitoring oneself while talking or writing Scanning Editing, peer-editing Peripheral C. Simple greetings The later stages of “memorizing” a dialog TPR/Natural Approach New L2 learner successfully completes a brief conversation D. Open-ended group work Rapid reading, skimming Free writes Normal conversational exchanges of some length Table 10.2. Practical applications of McLaughlin’s attention-processing model (Brown, 2007, p. 302)
    43. 43. Practical Applications of McLaughlin’s Attention- Processing Model  The cells are described in in terms of one’s processing of and attention to language forms (grammatical, phonological, discourse rules, etc.)  If, peripheral attention is given to language forms in a more advanced language classroom, focal attention is given to meaning, function, purpose or person.  Child second language learning: may consist almost exclusively of peripheral attention to language forms (Cell C and D).  Adult second language learning: involves movement from Cell A through a combination of C and B, to D. (DeKeyser, 1997).
    44. 44. Implicit and Explicit Models (1)  Explicit processing: one’s knowledge about language  Implicit knowledge: *information that is automatically and spontaneously used in language tasks * implicit processes enable learners to perform language, but not necessarily to cite rules governing the performance. (Brown, 2007, p. 302)
    45. 45. Implicit and Explicit Models (2)  Ellen Bialystok (1990a, 1982, 1978) is one of those who have proposed models of Second language Acquisition (SLA) using the implicit/explicit distinction.  Bialystok (1982, p.183) equated implicit and explicit with synonymous terms; unanalyzed and analyzed knowledge.
    46. 46. Model of Second Language Learning (Bialystok, 1978) Figure 10.2. Model of second language learning(adapted from Bialystok 1978, p. 71) (Brown, 2007, p. 303)
    47. 47. • General form in which we know most things without being aware of the structure of that knowledge. • Learners have little awareness of language rules Unanalyzed knowledge • Learners are overtly aware of the structure of analyzed knowledge. • Learners can verbalize complex rules governing language. Analyzed knowledge Implicit and Explicit Models (3)
    48. 48. Comprehension Check!  What are two terms used in Output Hypothesis proposed by Seliger (1983)?  How many hypothesis are there in the Innatist Model? What are they?  What is Controlled Processes and Automatic Processes?
    49. 49. A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVIST MODEL: LONG’S INTERACTION HYPOTHESIS (1) Two Preceding Theories Krashen’s Input Hypothesis The Cognitive Model of Second Language Acquisition Focus to a considerable extent of the learners
    50. 50. A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVIST MODEL: LONG’S INTERACTION HYPOTHESIS (2) The social constructivist perspectives emphasize the dynamic nature of the interplay between learners, their peers and their teachers and others with whom they interact. The interaction between learners and others is the focus of observation and explanation
    51. 51. INTERACTION HYPOTHESIS (1) Micheal Long (1985-1996) takes up where in a sense Krashen left off. He posits in what has come to be called the interaction hypothesis, that comprehensive input is the result of modified interaction.
    52. 52. INTERACTION HYPOTHESIS (2) Learners learn new forms in a language through the negotiation around meaning that occurs when they engage in communication and communication learning activities.
    53. 53. Modify Interaction (1)  Interaction between native speakers For example: babies imitate their parents:” the cat fat” Parents might correct: no we don’t say that. We say: “the fat cat” Our parents may modify their speech to children Mommy go bye bye now”  Interaction between native speakers with second language learners.
    54. 54. But native speakers often slow down speech to second language learners(modification also include comprehension checks) EX: “go down to the subway- do you know the word subway?” and they explain the word “subway” Or “I went to a new year’s Eve party, You know, a night before the first day of a new year. Modify Interaction (2)
    55. 55. Modify Interaction (3) In Long’s view: - Interaction and Input are two major players in the process of acquisition. - Conversation and other interactive communication are the basic for the linguistic rules. Further, Long’s hypothesis center us on the language classroom that : Not only as a place where learners of varying abilities and styles and background mingle But also as a place where the contexts for interaction are carefully designed.
    56. 56. Theories and Models of SLA INNATIST (Krashen) COGNITIVE (McLauglin / Bialystok) CONSTRUCTIVIST (Long)  Subconscious acquisition superior to “learning” & “monitoring”  Comprehensible input (i+1)  Low affective filter  Natural order of acquisition  “Zero option” for grammar instruction  Controlled /automatic processing (McL)  Focal / peripheral attention (McL)  Restructuring (McL)  Implicit vs. explicit (B)  Unanalyzed vs. analyzed knowledge (B)  Form-focused instruction  Interaction hypothesis  Intake through social interaction  Output hypothesis (Swain)  HIGS (Seliger)  Authenticity  Task-Based instruction
    57. 57. From Theory to Practice (1)  Theories are constructed by professors and researchers who hypothesize, describe, measure and conclude things about learners and learning and the teachers
    58. 58. From Theory to Practice (2)  Researchers suggest many skills for teachers. For example: developing programmes, textbook writing, observing, measuring variables of acquisition applying technology to teaching.
    59. 59. Practitioners (1)  Practitioners are thought of as teachers who out there in classroom every day stimulating, encourage, observing and assessing real- live learners.
    60. 60.  A practitioner/ teacher is made to feel that he or she is the recipient of a researcher/ theorist's findings and prognostications, with little to offer in return. Practitioners (2)
    61. 61. Comprehension Check  What is the interaction hypothesis of Michael Long?  What are cognitive models?  Who is a practitioner?