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Second Language Acquisition Sarah Cole Robin Stafford.

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1 Second Language Acquisition Sarah Cole Robin Stafford

2 Definitions Native Language (NL or L1) – the language first learned as a child Target Language (TL) – the language being learned Second Language Acquisition – the process of learning another language after the native language has been learned. Also called L2 regardless if it is the third, fourth or fifth language learned. Foreign Language learning- learning of a nonnative language in the environment of one’s native language.

3 What is SLA? A multidisciplinary field that studies: – Interlangauge (IL) – L2 Language Learning process – Learner variation – L2 language in the mind

4 What do native speakers know? We have knowledge of: – Phonology – Syntax – Morphology and lexicon – Semantics – Pragmatics

5 Phonology What is Phonology? – The sound system of a language

6 Phonology (cont) Possible sounds Fast vs. slow speech – Example: Did you go to the store? Didja go to the store? How and when to combine words – Example: want to wanna Possible combinations of sounds. – Example: [b] and [n] cannot be combined to make *bnick, but [b] and [r] can be combined to make brick.

7 Syntax What is Syntax? – the sentence structure of a language, sometimes called grammar.

8 Syntax (cont) Sentence grammaticality Word order Sentences that are equivalent in meaning Meaning change when move elements in a sentence When to use different grammatical patterns Ex: passive voice vs. active voice Set of rules to produce infinite sentences

9 Morphology What is morphology? – The study of word formation. In many cases a single word is made up more than one part. Example: unforeseen – Un (not, has negative function) – Fore (Noun, earlier in time) – Seen (Verb, to visualize)

10 Morphology (cont) We know how to form words using affixes (prefixes, suffixes) We also know what words can go with other words. Example: Mt. Everest is a high mountain. *The Empire State Building is a high building.

11 Semantics What is semantics? – The study of sentence meaning However, does not correspond to grammaticality. – Example: – (1-19) *That woman beautiful is my mother. – (1-20) *I’ll happy if I can get your paper.

12 Semantics (cont) Our knowledge of semantics entails knowledge of the reference of words. We also are able to distinguish between words that sound the same – Example: Table: flat top with three or four legs Leaf: part of a tree Vs. leaf of a table.

13 Semantics (cont) We know that the way we combine words in a sentence affects meaning. Example: The dog bit the man. The man bit the dog. Thus, we know the extent to which syntax and semantics are interrelated

14 Pragmatics What is pragmatics? – The way in which we use language in context.

15 ① Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis Used as a way to describe variations in languages. “ a way of comparing languages in order to determine potential errors for the ultimate purpose of isolating what needs to be learned what does not need to be learned”

16 CAH (cont) Why should one learn only differing structures? – Positive transfer – Same structure in L1 and L2 – Negative transfer – Different structure in L1 and L2 – All errors made in learning the L2 are due to the L1.

17 Problems with CAH Research in the 1960s/70s showed learners language was systematic (showed routes of development). independent of the L1 and context of learning (classroom vs. natural environment). Learners developmental stage

18 ② Universal Grammar Uniformly and speedy acquisition of a first language Learning is innate Principles and parameters constrain language

19 UG and SLA Innate mechanism that guides language learning The question then is, do we have access to this when learning the second language? – If yes, how is it available?

20 UG and SLA (cont) Four different views on Universal Grammar access in regards to SLA. – Partial access hypothesis – Full access hypothesis – Indirect access hypothesis – No access hypothesis

21 Partial Access Hypothesis UG less available with age and therefore is not available to adult learners. UG can be used for some things but not others – Adults use more problem solving skills – Problem solving skills and UG in competition

22 Full Access Hypothesis L1 and L2 acquisition are similar Universal grammar both L1 and L2 acquisition concurrently Variation in learners is accounted for by differences in cognitive maturity and in the learners needs.

23 Indirect Access Hypothesis UG is not directly involved in L2 learning The learner can use what he or she knows of UG in their L1 to help them in learning L2

24 No Access Hypothesis Only available for first language acquisition L2 learners have to use other ways of learning

25 Problems with UG Only looks at the acquisition of syntax and morphology Only looks at how language is represented in the mind, not the process of learning There are many viewpoints and each has empirical evidence – no verdict

26 ③ Monitor Model This model is made up of 5 different hypotheses: – Learning vs. acquisition Learning and acquiring are different processes – Natural order hypothesis Systemacity, predictable patterns of acquisition – The monitor hypothesis Use learned knowledge to alter output towards grammatically correct utterances – The input hypothesis Importance of comprehensible input (i +1) – The affective filter hypothesis Affects of sociolinguistic factors such as age, motivation, aptitude.

27 Teaching Implications Talking is not acquisition Adults and adolescents can acquire language L2 learners language is systematic One must practice using language and receive extensive input. Knowing a rule doesn’t equal usage

28 Communicative Language Teaching Seven basic functions of communication: – To get things – To control behavior of others – To create interaction – To express personal feelings and meanings – To learn and discover – To create a world of imagination – To communicate information

29 Communicative Language Teaching Example Activities: – Role plays – Interviews – Information gaps – Games – Language exchanges – Surveys – Pair work – Learning by teaching

30 Task-based Learning authentic language and meaningful tasks using the target language. Assessment based on task outcome not accuracy of language forms Examples: Puzzles, riddles Completing a family tree Leaving a message on someone’s answering machine

31 Form-focused instruction Language learning is systematic Should linguistic form be a focus of language instruction?

32 Further Reading Presentation is based on: Gass, Susan M. and Selinker, Larry. Second Language Acquisition: An Introductory Course. 2 nd Edition, 2004 ISBN: Also available: 3 rd Edition, 2008 ISBN:

33 Websites Second Language Acquisition Topics (Vivian Cook, 2003) Second Language Acquisition Bibliography (Vivian Cook, 2003) ABIB/index.htm Task based teaching website/article: learning-for-dummies

34 Krashen’s theory further reading Stephen D. Krashen’s book: Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning (1981). Or visit website: Other books by Krashen (not totally related to SLA, but still interesting and informative) Krashen, Stephen D. The Power of Reading: Insights from Research (2004, 2 nd ed.) ISBN:

35 Linguistics If you are interested in learning more about linguistics and want to self study I recommend: Anouschka Bergmann, Kathleen Currie Hall, and Sharon Miriam Ross. Language Files: Materials for an introduction to Language and Linguistics. Ohio State University Press, 10 th ed. ISBN:


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