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The fundamental difference hypothesis WHAT IS THE LOGICAL PROBLEM OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNING? Robert Bley-Vroman.

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Presentation on theme: "The fundamental difference hypothesis WHAT IS THE LOGICAL PROBLEM OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNING? Robert Bley-Vroman."— Presentation transcript:

1 The fundamental difference hypothesis WHAT IS THE LOGICAL PROBLEM OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNING? Robert Bley-Vroman

2 The fundamental difference hypothesis WHAT IS THE LOGICAL PROBLEM OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION? “ A consideration of the character of the grammar that is acquired, the degenerate quality and narrowly limited extent of the available data, the striking uniformity of the resulting grammars, and their independence of intelligence, motivation and emotional state, over wide ranges of variation, leave little hope that much of the structure of language can be learned by an organism initially uninformed as to its general character.” (Chomsky 1965: 58)

3 The fundamental difference hypothesis In other words, the question is how children acquire so much more than they experience Universal grammar

4 The fundamental difference hypothesis What is Universal Grammar (UG)? “A system of knowledge of what a human language can be and innate domain-specific procedures for arriving at a grammar” (Bley-Vroman, 1989: 41)

5 The fundamental difference hypothesis How do child language acquisition and foreign language learning differ? Adults differ in… their degree of success the character and uniformity of the resulting systems its susceptibility to factors (motivation, etc) Previous state of the organism

6 The fundamental difference hypothesis WHAT IS THE LOGICAL PROBLEM OF ADULT FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNING?

7 The fundamental difference hypothesis To explain why some learners are more successful than others. What accounts for this possible but unlikely success? “…explaining the quite high level of competence that is clearly possible in some cases, while permitting the wide range of variation that is also observed” (page 50)

8 The fundamental difference hypothesis “One obvious possibility is that the innate system that guides child acquisition no longer operates in adult foreign language learning (or more weakly, that its operation is partial and imperfect).” Bley-Vroman, p 41)

9 The fundamental difference hypothesis How do we explain then adult foreign language learning? Problem-solving principles + first language knowledge

10 The fundamental difference hypothesis THE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE HYPOTHESIS Child language development Adult foreign language learning UG Domain-specific Learning procedures First- language knowledge Problem-solving principles = GENERAL ADULT SKILL ACQUISITION

11 The fundamental difference hypothesis Why are some learners more successful than others? “Cognitive models of general problem solving involve setting goals. Its is expected that different people will view the problem to be solved in different ways and will set different goals in a given domain” (page 46)

12 The fundamental difference hypothesis Why are some learners more successful than others? “ “the native language must be sifted: that which is likely to be universal must be separated from which is an accidental property of the native language. Differnt learners may be expected to approach this task differently…” (page 52) “.. It also on the individual learner´s ability to construct a UG-surrogate, one can expect some partial success…and some considerable individual variation.” (page 53)


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