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Teaching first and second language acquisition Nigel Duffield & Ayumi Matsuo School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, University of Sheffield.

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching first and second language acquisition Nigel Duffield & Ayumi Matsuo School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, University of Sheffield."— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching first and second language acquisition Nigel Duffield & Ayumi Matsuo School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, University of Sheffield Teaching Pscyholinguistics University of Essex 20/06/09

2 1st Language Acquisition at U of Sheffield 1)Overview of 1st language acquisition teaching 2)ELL 345 3)Assessment 4)Extension to Half Year Dissertation

3 Language Acquisition Modules at the University of Sheffield Module number and nameWhich year?Class size ELL 220: Cognitive Approaches to First Language Acquisition (Dr Dabrowska) 2nd year60 ELL 345: Generative Approaches to First Language Acquisition (Duffield and Matsuo) 3rd year20-30 EGH 310: Psychology of Language (Matsuo) 3rd year50-60

4 Unit Description of ELL lectures per week 1 workshop (seminar) per week

5 Unit Description of ELL 345 focus specifically on the first language acquisition of syntactic (and semantic) knowledge. Addressing both theoretical and methodological issues, the course explores the relationship between the logical problem of language acquisition -- how very young children manage to acquire quite abstract and subtle properties of their target grammars in the absence of clear positive evidence -- and the developmental problem of acquisition -- how children recover from systematic errors, and acquire subtle language-specific properties. We also explore the related tension between nativist vs. emergentist explanations for language acquisition and development.

6 Constructive Alignment in ELL 345: Aims of the unit This unit aims to (3.1) enable students to collect and analyze real language data from young children (3.2) provide an account of the structural principles that constrain children’s grammars (3.3) enable students to assess how two current views of language acquisition (emergentist vs. nativist) account for the observed data (3.4) train students in the various methodologies used to assess young children’s grammatical and lexical competence

7 Intended Learning Outcomes “By the end of the unit, a student will be able to demonstrate (4.1) a familiarity with major modes of explanation in first language acquisition (4.2) an ability to collect, transcribe and analyse spontaneous production data from a child acquiring her first language (4.3) an understanding of different methodologies used in assessing children’s lexical and grammatical knowledge (4.4) an ability to reflect on how both cognitive and generative approaches support the data obtained in first language development in children.

8 Component 1: Two different perspectives When we designed this module, we paid a lot of attention to focusing on the contrast between generative and cognitive approaches. This contrast is probably most highlighted in the third workshop of the module where we discuss how two perspectives differ in the treatment of “tense” (Li and Bowerman vs. Weinberg and Olsen) as well as in the inquiry based case study.

9 Component 2: Theoretical and methodological issues The series of workshops that introduce methodologies the procedure to obtain ethics clearance from the University since our project involves human participants. various methods of collecting children’s data and consider the data analysis. (some students become participants and try out our experiment with them in a workshop. )

10 Component 3: Language specific problems vs. universals The modules in our department tend to be only on English but we discuss various languages in this module. We compare children learning languages with different word orders (e.g. German vs. English), with different syntactic properties (e.g. French vs. English), with different semantic properties (e.g. Japanese vs. English) among others.

11 Assessment methods 5 mini-quizzes:5*2=10% 1 mid-term assignment= 30% Final Project (around 2000 words):40% Class presentation of final project: 10% Proposal for final project (around 500 words),: 10%

12 Reflection on Assessment ELL 345 includes diverse kinds of assessment to measure all the intended outcomes. Both formative and summative assessments that measure deep and surface learning. The assessments include various modes such as objective test (quizzes), performance assessment (oral presentation; project) as well as rapid assessment (workshop assignments).

13 This workshop involves… An online (Web CT) assignment prior to the workshop. The students are divided into 10 groups, and each group receives a different set of data via Web CT. Each data set comes from a corpus of spontaneous data from English-speaking children at different stages of development (different age groups). Each group is asked to analyze the children’s speech in terms of their production of present and past tense (eg. –ed vs. –ing) and verb types.

14 This workshop involves… During the workshop, we compare our findings with the two papers written on the same topic from different perspectives. We discuss which article reflects their findings in the workshop homework. This workshop assignment is formative and not assessed. Our aim is to give students opportunities to use the real language data and critically distinguish between the two perspectives using their own data.

15 different levels of knowledge Bloom (1956) 1. Knowledge 2. Comprehension 3. Application 4. Analysis 5. Synthesis 6. Evaluation

16 Quizzes The 5 quizzes are introduced in order to ease the difficulties that the students meet in this module, with reading journal articles for the first time. The mini-quizzes are quite popular among students. mini-quizzes helped to retain the contents of the journal articles! Principles of assessment the assessment must be timely, transparent, manageable, fair and valid.

17 Another method to measure students‘ understanding in journal articles EGH 310 (Psychology of Language) Journal blog in Web CT

18 Journal blog examples

19 Mid-term project 1 Inquiry based case study. Biggs (1999), based on the traditional constructivist learning theory (which stems from the findings/thought advocated in Piaget (1952)) argues that ‘teaching’ should be created by “the student’s learning activities” and “learning is a way of interacting with the world (60, 1999).”

20 Mid-term project 2 Inquiry based case study. “construct meaning through relevant learning activities”.

21 Mid-term project rationale whether Baby Einstein DVD really helps a baby to become a language genius timely well discussed but still controversial evoke cognitive conflict in students, which is said to work as a stimulus for learning.

22 Mid-term project rationale The students are encouraged to read many critical reviews available on the DVD And are asked to create an experiment that measures the reliability of the various claims. The main goal of this project is to summarize conflicting views in the field, argue whether these claims can be true based on the various research findings in psycholinguistics and finally come up with an experiment that will tease apart conflicting views.

23 Expected Learning Issues (things to inquire) Do babies become better linguists by listening to foreign language sounds? Does the DVD promote aspects of the language development? If so, which aspects? To prove the effectiveness of the DVD, what kind of experiment can you administer? Which method will you use and who are your participants? What kind of results are you expecting to get? There are two conflicting views in First Language Acquisition (i.e.,nurture/nature issues). What do you think that the researchers in different camps think about the influence of this DVD to young children? Based on what you have researched, do you think that the DVD is good as it is, that the DVD will not bring about any good influence on children’s language development, or that some parts should be improved?

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25 Final Project 1)proposal in Week 8 2)oral presentation in Weeks 11 and 12 3)a write-up (2000 words) sometime during the exam week divided into 3 parts to simulate how research is carried out in Linguistics. The proposal is the equivalent of an abstract to conferences, the presentation imitates a conference presentation; and finally, the write-up resembles an article we would submit to a journal.

26 Note on the final project Both the proposal and in-class presentation are marked promptly and each student receives feedback at each stage so that they can incorporate it in their final write-up.

27 Future of ELL 345 students… where to extend? Half-year dissertation (project) –Students who successfully complete GALA (ELL 345) have the opportunity to register for a half-year dissertation in the following semester. –In contrast to full-year dissertation projects, where each student proposes their own topics, the half-year dissertation project engages the students collectively in the same research project…

28 Half-Year Dissertation (Project) Individual Contribution –Each student is assigned to lead on a different aspect of the project. Typically, each student will be responsible for the data collected from a particular age group (e.g., student 1, 4-6 year-olds, student year olds, student 3 adult controls). –Students may also propose their own variables to test in conjunction with the main experiment (e.g. SES, tests of working memory, gender)

29 Half-Year Dissertation (Project) Group Contribution –However, students are required to assist each other with testing and analysis of all participants. –To participate in and contribute to joint ‘lab meetings’ (in lieu of individual supervisions).

30 Half-Year Dissertation (Project) Benefits –Effective Research-led Teaching –Allows for identification, encouragement and initial training of prospective MA students –Publications, Conference Proceedings.

31 Conclusion How three components are intergrated Teaching first language acquisition in the Enlgish department


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