What's in a name? The quest for a new SLA metaphor.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? THE QUESTFOR A NEW SLA METAPHOR Vera Menezes (UFMG/CNPq) BRAZIL
"Whats in a name? that which we call arose/ By any other name would smell assweet” says Juliet to Romeo, trying to 02persuade Romeo to abandon hissurname.Can we use the same reasoning toabandon the acquisition metaphor?
Metaphor definition “A set of conceptual correspondences, or more technically, mappings, between two conceptual domains, a source and a target (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980; Köveceses, 2002). The source is more physical and the target more abstract.Ex. source: container domain: mind Thus the mind is a container
Etymoloy of “learn”• learn – O.E. leornian "to get knowledge, be cultivated," from P.Gmc. *liznojan (cf. O.Fris. lernia, O.H.G. lernen, Ger. lernen "to learn," Goth. lais "I know), with a base sense of "to follow or find the track," from PIE *leis- "track." Related to Ger. Gleis "track," and to O.E. læst "sole of the foot" (see last (n.)). The transitive sense (He learned me how to read), now vulgar, was acceptable from c.1200 until early 19c., from O.E. læran "to teach" (cf. M.E. lere, Ger. lehren "to teach;" see lore), and is preserved in the adj. learned "having knowledge gained by study" (c.1340).(Oxford Dicionary of Etymology) – apprehend late 14c., "to grasp in the mind," from L. apprehendere "to take hold of, grasp,“ from ad-"to" + prehendere "to seize" (see prehensile). Metaphoric extension to "seize with the mind" took place in L., and was the sole sense of cognate O.Fr. aprendre (Mod.Fr. apprendre "to learn, to be informed about;" also cf. apprentice). Original sense returned in Eng. in meaning "to seize in the name of the law, arrest," recorded from 1540s, which use probably was taken directly from Latin. to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, instruction, practice or experience. (Webster) to gain knowledge of or skill in, by study, practice or being taught: ~ a foreign language (Oxord)
Acquisition and participation• When a metaphor names a phenomenon it highlights one of its aspects, but hides others. In the case of acquisition, language is conceived as a commodity, something the learner (a recipient) acquires from the ones who possess it. Sfard (1998:5) tells us that “[S]ince the dawn of civilization, human learning is conceived of as an acquisition of something” and building on Lave and Wenger’s theory (1991), she proposes the participation metaphor (becoming member of a community) to complement the acquisition metaphor (mind as recipient). Such a metaphor emphasizes the sociocultural aspects of the phenomenon but neglects the cognitive aspects.
(Sfard, 1998:7)In the acquisition metaphor "turning into a part of a greaterlanguage is conceptualized whole“, togetherness,as a commodity: reception, solidarity, and collaboration.acquisition, construction,internalization, appropriation, Learning as a process oftransmission, attainment, participation.development, accumulation,grasp.
What are the learners’ metaphors? To enjoy an experienceA journey (sail new seas, travelcrazily, have a passport for the To climb a ladder/ aglobalized world; fly in an mountainunknown place) To build a multi-storeyAn adventure buildingTo ride a bicycle To learn the commands ofTo discover the world a new softwareTo open the windows/doors of To make connectionsthe world To acquire a powerful toolTo dive into an unknown place To be part of a globalizedTo overcome an obstacle world
“We have to accept the fact that themetaphors we use while theorizingmay be good enough to fit small areas,but none of them suffice to cover theentire field.” (Sfard, 1988:11)
Is participation a metaphor?• What is the source? source: commodity domain: language Thus the language is a commodity• Acquisition metaphor: something (language) is acquired• Where is language in the participation metaphor?• I can say second language acquisition, but I cannot say second language participation.• Participation in which community?
Language learning histories• Learners are aware that to learn a language they must look for linguistic social practices. So, participation is implicit in their narratives, but language as a commodity is also present.
SLA AS A COMPLEX SYSTEMAs pointed out by van Lier (1996:170), “we can neitherclaim that learning is caused by environmental stimuli(the behaviourist position) nor that it is geneticallydetermined (the innatist position). Rather, learning is theresult of complex (and contingent) interactions betweenindividual and environment”. There is evidence to support the claim that SLA is a Complex adaptive system due to its inherent ability to adapt to different conditions present in both internal and external environments.
A complex model can accommodate apparently opposedelements in aneffort to explain SLA.
LANGUAGEIn this perspective, language must be understood as a non-Linear dynamic system, made up of interrelated bio-cognitive,sociocultural, historical and political elements, which enable usto think and act in society. A language is not a static object,but a system in constant movement and its interactingelements influence and are influenced by each other. Aslanguage is in evolution, so too is SLA and any change in asubsystem can affect other elements in the network. Itdevelops through dynamic and constant interaction among thesubsystems, alternating moments of stability with moments ofturbulence.
SLA AS A COMPLEX SYSTEMSLA consists of a dynamic interaction among differentIndividual and social factors put into movement by innerand social processes. The random interaction among allthe elements of the acquisition system yields the changesresponsible for acquisition.The rate of change is not predictable and varies accordingto the nature of the interactions among all the elements ofthe system. A live acquisition system is always in movementand never reaches equilibrium, although it undergoes periodsof more or less stability.
In a complex perspective,Emergence of a second language might be a good alternative. BUT
Whats in a name? that which wecall acquisition or participation/ By any other name would sound as inadequate”.