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BBI 3209 Language Acquisition Wong Bee Eng Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication Universiti Putra Malaysia.

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Presentation on theme: "BBI 3209 Language Acquisition Wong Bee Eng Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication Universiti Putra Malaysia."— Presentation transcript:

1 BBI 3209 Language Acquisition Wong Bee Eng Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication Universiti Putra Malaysia

2 Unit 4 – The role of UG in L1 acquisition Unit 5 – The observable phenomena in SLA/ SLL Unit 6 – The cognitive approach to SLA/ SLL Unit 7 – The role of universal grammar in SLA/ SLL Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM2

3 Unit 4 – The role of UG in L1 acquisition Universal Grammar Principles Parameters L1 Acquisition Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM3

4 Unit 5 – The observable phenomena in SLA/ SLL Transfer of properties of the L1 into the L2 - Phonological properties - Morphological properties - Syntactic properties Staged development in SLA/ SLL Systematicity in SLA/ SLL across learners Variability in SLA/ SLL Incompleteness in SLA/ SLL Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM4

5 Unit 6 – The cognitive approach to SLA/ SLL The Perceptual Saliency Approach Learnability/Teachability Hypothesis Information Processing Models - McLaughlin’s information processing model - Andersen’s ACT* model Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM5

6 Unit 7 – The role of universal grammar in SLA/ SLL Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM6

7 THE UNIVERSAL GRAMMAR APPROACH The main goals of linguistic theory are to answer the following questions: What constitutes knowledge of language? How is knowledge of language acquired? How is knowledge of language put to use? Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM7

8 1. What Constitutes Knowledge of Language? Knowledge of language – subconscious mental representation of language which underlies all language use. We inherit a universal set of principles and parameters (Chomsky, 1981, 1986a, 1986b). Principles – invariant Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM8

9 Parameters – a limited number of open values which characterize differences between languages. This approach – provides a detailed descriptive framework for second language (SLA) research. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM9

10 2. How is Knowledge of Language Acquired? The logical problem of language learning – degenerate input. UG – makes the task easier. In SLA – learners are faced with the same logical problem of constructing a grammar of the L2 on the basis of fragmentary input and of having to construct abstract representations on the basis of the samples of language they actually encounter. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM10

11 The manner in which L2 learners go about this is probably NOT the same as the process in L1 acquisition – 3 reasons A. different needs B. already have an L1 – with the parameters set to the values of the L1 C. L2 learners – cognitively mature, able to solve problems, able to deal with abstract concepts. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM11

12 3. How is Knowledge of Language Put to Use? UG is concerned with knowledge of language – competence, not how language is used in real life – performance. Performance – domain of a theory of language use, in which linguistic competence is only one aspect. Another aspect of language use also has to define how we access our knowledge base (affected by sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic variables). Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM12

13 Arguments from L1 acquisition L1 acquisition – NOT linked to intelligence. Dissociation between language development and cognitive development (aspects of cognition) Williams syndrome – a metabolic disorder – heart defects, mental retardation, distinctive facial expression Bellugi et al. (1993) – a dissociation between language development and the kind of cognitive prerequisites which Piaget argue are necessary for language development in such children. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM13

14 Smith and Tsimpli (1995) - Christopher – savant – brain damaged but can read, write and communicate in about 17 languages. Has low performance IQ but has an average/above average verbal IQ. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM14

15 Specific Language Impairment – SLI (Gopnik and Crago, 1991; Pinker, 1994). Children – cognitively normal but language impaired Characterized by language being deficient in specific ways, possibly inherited – some aspects of language at least might be genetically controlled. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM15

16 Language seems separate from other aspects of cognition although the 2 interact Language itself seems to be modular in nature Broca’s aphasia (front and above the left ear) – impaired speech production – effortful, hesitant and non-fluent, almost no grammatical structure, mainly specific nouns and few verbs - comprehension of speech remains good Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM16

17 Wernicke’s aphasia – results from injury to the Wernicke’s area (around and under the left ear. Effortless, fluent and rapid speech but vague and incomprehensible – grammatically complex and well structured, but lacking in content words with specific meaning; general Ns and Vs (something, stuff, put, did) comprehension of speech – impaired. Specific areas of the brain deal with specific aspects of language. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM17

18 6 Features of Language Development (Biologically triggered behaviour) (Aitchison, 1989, p.67 based on Lenneberg (1967)) 1. The behaviour emerges before it is necessary. 2. Its appearance is not the result of a conscious decision. 3. Its emergence is not triggered by external events (though the surrounding environment must be sufficiently ‘rich’ for it to develop adequately). Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM18

19 4. Direct teaching and intensive practice have relatively little effect. 5. There is a regular sequence of ‘milestones’ as the behaviour develops, and these can usually be correlated with age and other aspects of development. 6. There may be a ‘critical period’ for the acquisition of the behaviour. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM19

20 UNIVERSAL GRAMMAR WHAT DOES UG CONSIST OF? Theory – many versions – from phrase structure rules to Minimalist Programme – essentially the goal – the same – to characterise the innate language faculty. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM20

21 Varying emphases – result of search for descriptive adequacy – to account for the details of increasing numbers of typologically unrelated languages while the search for explanatory adequacy – to make effective cross-language generalizations. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM21

22 A theory of language must show how each particular language can be derived from a uniform initial state under the ‘boundary conditions’ set by experience. … The search for descriptive adequacy seems to lead to ever-greater complexity and variety of rule systems, while the search for explanatory adequacy requires that language structure must be invariant, except at the margins. (Chomsky, 2000: 7) Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM22

23 Principles Initial state – a set of universal principles which specify the limited possibilities of variation – parameters. Parameters Need to be fixed (set). Language learning – constrained. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM23

24 E.g. of a principle – STRUCTURE DEPENDENCY Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM24

25 The knowledge that languages are STRUCTURE DEPENDENT can explain SUBJECT AUXILIARY INVERSION, PASSIVISATION,… The way we move elements is NOT based on the LINEAR ORDER of the sentence. Structure Dependency – a principle of UG Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM25

26 Also part of our UG endowment Syntactic categories – both lexical and functional and do no have to be learnt. Universal inventory of categories that the child selects from on the basis of the input, as not all languages will make use of all categories or their features. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM26

27 PARAMETERS Languages – organized hierarchically in terms of phrases (structure – dependency). But there are rules which differ between languages – PARAMETERS. E.g. HEAD PARAMETER – specifies the position of the head in relation to its complement(s). Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM27

28 Parameters – language –specific knowledge. Head parameter and it is stated as: The parameter that determines the relative positioning of heads with respect to their complements (Radford, 1997; 20). Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM28

29 ‘a language is… a set of specification for parameters in an invariant system of principles of UG’ (Chomsky, 1995: 388). The PRINCIPLES AND PARAMETERS framework (Chomsky, 1986a,b; 1987) Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM29

30 Language acquisition – learning the LEXICON; i.e. learning the VOCABULARY of the language and settings of parameters. Abstract principles – specified as before. Parameters – contained in the FUNCTIONAL categories only. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM30

31 L1 Acquisition The core element of a phrase is the head. Complements optionally modify the head. Another type of modifier is the Specifier – also an optional modifier. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM31

32 In L1 acquisition, children would know that sentences are made of phrases which comprise the Specifier-Head- Complement structure. They don’t have to learn this since this is part of the child’s innate knowledge. But they would not know the exact ordering of these elements in their language. They need linguistic input in order to set the head parameter. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM32

33 The number of possibilities with regard to the ordering of these three elements is constrained. The following are the possibilities: Specifier-Head-Complement (like the English language) Specifier-Complement-Head Head-Complement-Specifier Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM33

34 Examples of utterances of a 20-month-old boy (from Radford, 1997: 22). Head (V) Complement Touch heads Cuddle book Want crayons Head (P) Complement In school To mummy With potty Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM34

35 Acquiring this aspect of word order involves the simple task of setting a binary (two-way) either head-first or head-last parameter at its appropriate value. In other words, UG would tell the child that the only possible choices are for languages to be head-first or head-last. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM35

36 Second Language Acquisition (Second Language Learning) Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM36

37 THE OBSERVABLE PHENOMENA OF SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION Five observations that can be made about SLA are: Transfer of Properties of the L1 Grammar into the L2 Grammar Transfer of linguistic properties from a speaker’s L1 into the L2 - a pervasive feature of SLA. 1960s – main focus of attention for anyone involved with thinking about the nature of L2es. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM37

38 Affects all linguistic levels – phonetics/phonology (pronunciation), syntax (the construction of sentences), morphology (the internal structure of words), lexicon (vocabulary), and discourse (the communicative use that sentences are put to). We are most aware of transfer where the L1 and L2 differ on a particular property, because this leads to patterns in speech of the non-native speaker not found in the speech of the native speaker, for e.g. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM38

39 Transfer of phonological properties – e.g. L1 French speakers of L2 English may pronounce this as zees Transfer of syntactic properties – e.g. L1 English speakers of L2 French may place an adverb in a position which is possible in English but not in French: *Le chat toujours mordre. The cat always bites. (Selinker, Swain & Dumas, 1975) (Native French: Le chat mord toujours.) Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM39

40 Transfer of morphological properties – L1 Spanish speakers of L2 English: e.g. *Now she’s putting hers clothes on. (Dulay and Burt, 1983) Spanish possessive determiners inflect for both gender and number, whereas English possessive determiners only inflect for gender. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM40

41 Where the L1 and L2 are structurally identical, there are also observable effects: e.g. Zobl (1984) – acquisition of the determiner a/the in English is faster for L1 French and Spanish speakers than for L1 Chinese and Russian speakers. (The former make a distinction between indefinite and definite determiners while the latter do not.) Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM41

42 2. Stage Development in SLA Acquisition of languages is staged – from the initial- state grammars that L2 learners construct, they go through stages of development towards the TL. They resemble L1 learners but both sets of learners start from different initial-state grammars. See for e.g. Clahsen and Musyken (1986) for the acquisition of word order patterns in German by L1 speakers of Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM42

43 3. Systematicity in the Growth of L2 Knowledge Across Learners Learners from different L1 backgrounds develop L2 linguistic knowledge in a way that is not directly attributable either to their L1, or to the L2 input. Consistent patterns in the development of accuracy on grammatical morphology in English across a range of L2 learners from different language backgrounds, of different ages, and learning English under different conditions. For e.g. Dulay and Burt, 1973; Dulay and Burt, 1974; Bailey, Madden & Krashen, 1974; Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM43

44 Progressive : The boy is eating. Plural : The boys are hungry. Past regular : The boy shouted. Past irregular: The boy sang. Possessive : The boy’s horse. Third person singular : The boy runs. And so on. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM44

45 Makino (1980) – found a high correlation between his L1 Japanese subjects (of L2 English) and those of D & B, and there was no relationship between this order and the order in which the learners were taught the gammatical morphemes in the classroom. Learners from different L1 backgrounds, acquiring an L2 under different conditions of exposure – naturalistic vs classroom – can go through the same stages of development; i.e. there is systematic development. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM45

46 4. Variability in Learners’ Intuition About, and Production of, Aspects of the L2 at Certain Stages of Development The mental grammars of L2 learners at certain stages of development appear to allow more than one structural variant for a given construction where the TL has only one form. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM46

47 For e.g. an 11-year-old Portuguese learner of L2 English produced the following with the same meaning (no and don’t to perform the task of negation) (Ellis, 1992): No look my card. Don’t look my card. Such cases of variability may be of temporary duration or they may continue over long periods. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM47

48 5. L2 Learners Stop Short of Native-like Success in a Number of Areas of the L2 Grammar Very few L2 learners appear to be fully successful in the way that native speakers are (see for e.g. Johnson & Newport, 1989). Summary Approaches to the study of SLA must be able to account for a number of its observable properties. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM48

49 Universal Grammar and second language acquisition Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM49

50 Debates and hypotheses about parameter resetting Empirical evidence 3 views/hypotheses A. L2 learners have no access to UG B. L2 learners have full access to UG. C. L2 learners have partial access to UG. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM50

51 3 views/hypotheses A. L2 learners have no access to UG UG is no longer available to L2 learners. Proponents of this view argue that there is a ‘critical period’ for language acquisition during children’s early development, and that adult L2 learners have to resort to other learning mechanisms. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM51

52 Reasons The commonsense observation that immigrant children become native-like speakers of their L2, whereas their parents rarely do (see e.g. Johnson and Newport, 1989). However, adult grammars are generally UG-constrained (Hawkins, 2001; White, 2003). Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM52

53 Studies tend to focus on differences between L1 and L2 acquisition, and on differences in the end result of the acquisition process. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM53

54 B. L2 learners have full access to UG. 3 sub-views Full access/no transfer Full transfer/full access Full access/impaired early representations Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM54

55 C. L2 learners have partial access to UG 2 sub-views No parameter resetting Impaired functional features Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM55

56 Evaluation of the theory or Approach Scope and achievement of the UG approach The UG view of language The UG view of language acquisition The UG view of the language learner Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM56

57 Thank you Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM57

58 Final Examination Semester /2013 Questions will be based on units 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the module and this lecture. Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM58

59 Types of questions: MCQs T/F Structural Short essays/paragraphs Wong Bee Eng FBMK UPM59

60 References: Those found in the unit and Mitchell, R. & Myles, F. (2004). Second Language Learning Theories (Second Edition). London: Hodder Arnold.


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