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An overview of key debates and issues in second language learning theory Dr Gabriela Meier EFPM266: Principles of Language Learning Introduction to the.

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1 An overview of key debates and issues in second language learning theory Dr Gabriela Meier EFPM266: Principles of Language Learning Introduction to the module

2 Today’s objectives  To get to know the tutor and peers  Understanding the rationale and scope of the module  Gaining a first idea of key debates related to second language learning based on your practice  Gain an overview of module assignments and assessment

3 Introductions  Name(s)  Country of origin  Country of practice  Years of teaching experience

4 Introductions Gaby  BA translation (Zurich)  Professional experience as translator and language teacher  MA and PhD in European Studies (language education)  Research Fellow in Bath  Lecturer in language education in Exeter  Research interest:  language education and social cohesion/interaction  Bilingual and multilingual education  Immersion education (see

5 Your expectations Pair and group discussion:  Expectations of the module  Expectations of the course  Expectations of your time in Exeter

6 Module objectives  To introduce you to foundational concepts in second language learning theories  To provide an overview of the current debate on key issues in second language learning research  To enable you to engage in critical analysis and discussion of an area of study in second language learning  To enable you to consider critically the application of current research in language learning to language teaching practice

7 Envisaged learning outcomes  A critical understanding of the major issues in second language learning  An ability to apply the principles of language learning to the participants’ specific context  The ability to engage in critical analysis and discussion of different perspectives in second language learning

8 Core texts

9 Format of module seminars  Teacher presentations  Student presentations  Participation in class  Asking questions  Reading (set) and discussion of articles  Discussion of module topics (small and large groups)

10 About the module  Why principles of language learning for TESOL?  Relating theory to practice and context  Challenging our views  openness  Invitation to engage with alternative ways of thinking about language learning (not taking things for granted)

11 Group discussion  Think of your own language learning experience?  Group 1: what have you enjoyed / not enjoyed?  Group 2: What did you do alone / not alone?  Group 3: What was creative / not creative or repetitive?  Group 4: What was valuable / not valuable?  Group 5: What was in in class / not in class?   flip chart

12 What do we call our area of studies?  Principles of language learning  Second language acquisition  Second language learning theories  How languages are learned  Teaching English to speakers of other languages  Other?

13 Second language acquisition  SLA is the study of how people acquire an additional language (L2)  It is a branch of applied linguistics / cognitive science  It is a problem-solving discipline  The central problem that SLA addresses is: ‘How can learners be helped to acquire an L2?’

14 Key debates and issues in developing a theory of second language learning Issue 1. Second Language Learning or Second Language Acquisition SLA? Developments in the field are leading researchers to question the term SLA:  The problem with the term SECOND  The problem with the term ACQUISITION For a full discussion of this see Block (2003).

15 The problem with ‘second’ + classroom - classroom 1 X as a foreign language -Language in community 3 Self-instructed X as a foreign language 2 X as a second language + Language in community 4 Naturalistic language learning Fig. 3.1 ‘Second’ context scenarios (Block 2003:34)

16 The problem with ‘acquisition’  Krashen (80s): distinction between learning and acquisition (information processing model)  Neisser and Harré (90s): Krashen does not consider environmental/ contextual variables  Gass and Long (90s): are we confusing use with acquisition?  Block (00s): Is ‘second language acquisition’ different to ‘second language activity’?

17 Research linking acquisition and use

18 Basic Issues in SLA (De Bot et al, 2005:5-12)  Monolingualism, bilingualism, multilingualism [& plurilingualism]  First, second & third language  SLA & first language acquisition  Acquisition vs. learning

19  Issue 2. What’s different about second language learning compared to first language learning?  Issue 3. What is the role of the environment in second language learning?  How far is second language a mental process or a social process? Key debates and issues in developing a theory of second language learning

20 20/43 Contexts for Language Learning A child or adult learning a second language is different from a child acquiring a first language in terms of both 1) learner characteristics and 2) learning conditions

21 Differences in Learning L1 & L2 Learner Characteristics 1. Knowledge of another language 2. Cognitive maturity 3. Metalinguistic awareness 4. World Knowledge 5. Anxiety about speaking

22 Differences in Learning L1 & L2 Learning Conditions 6. Freedom to be silent 7. Ample time & contact 8. Corrective feedback: (grammar and pronunciation) 9. Corrective feedback: (meaning, word choice, politeness) 10. Modified input

23 Differences in Learning L1 & L2  Summary: Second/additional language learning theories need to account for language acquisition/learning by learners with a variety of characteristics and learning in a variety of contexts.

24  Why are language learning theories important for us as foreign/second/additional language teachers?

25 Views of language and views of learning both underpin our day to day teaching.  Methods and activities we choose reflect different views about language learning:  Order of the syllabus  Correction (when and what)  Assessment  We need a set of principles so we can make informed judgements about our work and what is good practice.  BUT A lot of diverse views! A complex picture.

26 Language theoryLearning theory Structural linguisticsBehaviourist psychology (Bloomfield) (Skinner) Universal grammarCognitivism ‘Deep’ structure Chomsky (innatism) and Competence vs performance Piaget (constructivist + developmentalist) (Chomsky) Functional linguistics Social theories of learning Language as tool for (weak and strong forms) communication Interactionism, Vygotskian (Halliday) sociocultural theory, and critical theory. Charting the changing views of second language learning

27 Many more issues  ELF, EIL, EAL, World Englishes  Foreign, additional, second, other, heritage language  Whose English?  Native vs non-native speaker – or bilingual vs monolingual speakers of English  Language learning and social media/CALL  Multilingual language learning  Etc.  …

28 For more information on current issues  BAAL:  AILA:  EUROSLA:  Asia TEFL:  IATEFL:  Journals:

29 Syllabus of this module 1. Key debates and issues 2. Short history 3. Interaction and language processing 4. Socio-cultural theory 5. Language learning strategies and learning styles 6. Language learning motivation and anxiety 7. Identity and second language learning 8. Language learning as participation and socialisation 9. Multilingualism and language learning 10. Conclusion

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32 Student presentation Description  context (country, institution, policy)  course (level, pre-requisites, objectives)  learners (group and individuals)  your role (learner, teacher, other) Evaluation based on your experience Breen (2001) argues that a theory of second language learning must seek to incorporate the answers to all of the following questions:  What are the contributions of the persons doing the learning?  Under what conditions or circumstances does the learning take place?  How is the learning done?  What are the learning outcomes?  What issue would you like to know more about? 5 mins

33 Rationale Make visible differences  types of contexts  expertise and experience  cultural issues Essay preparation Reflect on your context, look at theories and discuss their relevance to your context. Enable student-centred seminars

34 Assessment EFPM266 Principles of language learning  See Module outline for procedure  Formative work  Essay introduction (500 words) 11 December 2012  Summative work (essay 5,500 words) 16 January 2013  (not including references and appendices)  Marking criteria – see MEd handbook

35 Resources  Library  Electronic library  ELE (vle.exeter.ac.uk)  internet

36 Reading for next week  Peacock, M. (2009) Attribution and learning English as a foreign language. In ELT Journal 64/2 (pp )  Available from ELE Questions  How does the author define learner attributions?  What are the main findings?  Why are learner attributions important?  How does this resonate with your context?

37 RecapQuestions

38 Today’s objectives and outlook  To get to know the tutor and peers  Understanding the rationale and scope of the module  Gaining a first idea of key debates related to second language learning based on your practice  Gain an overview of module assignments and assessment  Next week:  Student presentations  Discussion of reading  Brief history of language learning theories


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