Presentation on theme: "Second Language Acquisition (SLA) 2014-15 Acquisition vs Learning Terminology: L1 (first language), L2 (second language), TL (target language)."— Presentation transcript:
Second Language Acquisition (SLA) 2014-15 Acquisition vs Learning Terminology: L1 (first language), L2 (second language), TL (target language).
Do you agree? 1. First and second language acquisition (FLA and SLA) are similar.
2. Everyone can learn a second language.
3. After a certain age, acquiring a second language becomes much more difficult and is rarely 100% successful.
4. There are predictable sequences in the order of acquisition of morphemes and syntactic structures: (i)morphemes (e.g. plural s, progressive –ing) (ii) syntactic structures (e.g. relative clauses)
5. “Knowing a rule does not mean that the associated language can be used effectively in interaction.” (Lightbrown 1985)
6. Correcting errors is not helpful to second language learners.
7. Learners’ second language usually fossilizes at a basic interpersonal communicative stage before they acquire high level academic skills.
8. Classroom instruction is often inadequate and ineffective.
9. Learning a language is a highly complex activity. However, a language can be acquired without instruction.
10. Learning a language is a social phenomenon.
11. There is enormous variation among language learners.
12. Acquiring a language is a gradual process of accretion, a process that is not linear but uneven and recursive.
13. L2 learners bring a great fund of knowledge (schemata, strategies, skills) to the task of learning a language.
14. Errors are an essential formative aspect of the SLA process. There are never “gross” or “wild” errors in the production of L2 learners.
15. It is remarkable that students learn anything of an L2 at school given the constraints of environment, time, curriculum pressure etc.
16. Females are better L2 learners than males.
History of SLA 1. Until 1950s. Grammar-Translation method. Contrastive analysis (Ellis p. 52) 2. 1950s-1970s. Behaviourist learning theory (Ellis p. 31). Stimulus-response-reinforcemement. Skinner & Bloomfield. The audio-lingual method: highly controlled input and repetitive structure drills; establisment of good habits. 3.Since 1960s. Mentalist theory (Ellis pp. 13, 31). Noam Chomsky. Language is a cognitive phenomenon. The human baby has an innate capacity for language acquisition. Creativity.
Language is a type of behaviour (USA: behavior) Influence of the disciplines of anthropology and psychology. Inductive scientific approach based on empirical research and drawing conclusions from the data obtained. "The only useful generalizations about language are inductive generalizations." Leonard Bloomfield, 1935: 20. Linguists inspired by behaviourism are interested only in what can be directly observed, i.e. actual use of spoken or written language. They do not speculate on what is in a person's mind.
Mike and Angela are walking along the High Street. Angela stops outside a jeweller's shop. Her eyes light up. She stoops to look carefully at a very beautiful necklace. She makes some sounds. Mike goes into the shop and buys the bracelet. He gives it to Angela. She smiles and kisses him. Behaviourist linguists do not just study the language produced, but also the context before something is said and the result of the utterance. For Bloomfield it is possible "to explain speech in terms of what prompted it and what consequences followed from it." Chapman, 2006: 30.
Verbal Behavior (1957), by B.F. Skinner. STIMULUS RESPONSE REINFORCEMENT Note the training of circus animals to perform tricks. Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) and his work on conditioned reflexes. Emotions should not be considered in empirical research because they cannot be observed. Physical symptoms, on the other hand, should be observed and noted. Therefore, a red face is a legitimate datum but speculation about someone's mood (anger, embarrassment etc.) is not. In our story, Angela's eyes light up. The sounds she makes produce a favourable response. This will reinforce her verbal behaviour, i.e. will encourage her to make similar sounds the next time she sees something she would like to have.
"[...] there is no justification for collating linguistic meanings, unless in terms of men's dispositions to respond overtly to socially observable stimulations." (W.V.O. Quine, 1960: ix) "The only way in which it is possible to talk about the meaning of any word or phrase is to describe the types of stimuli that typically prompt speakers to produce it in context." (Chapman, 2006: 33) The meaning of the utterance "I would love to have that beautiful necklace" should not be considered without reference to the stimulus of Angela's seeing it displayed in the shop window. Meaning does not exist independently of individual instances of verbal behaviour (Quine’s semantic scepticism).
Implications for translation: Quine's principle of the indeterminacy of translation. We cannot translate meanings because independent meanings do not exist. Instead we have to translate the verbal behaviours of two language communities (i.e. how, in specific contexts, people respond to stimuli and reinforce the responses of others).
Implications for theories of language acquisition and learning. "[...] when learning a language, whether a first language or a second or subsequent language, a speaker's task is to learn to behave verbally in the same way as the other speakers of that language. The speaker's success in learning the language can be judged in terms of the extent to which he or she has developed the dispositions to respond to stimuli and to reinforce the responses of others in the same way as other speakers of the language." Chapman 2006: 34 Your views please?
Today certain aspects of "hard" behaviourism - such as the refusal to consider non-observable mental processes - have been discredited. However, its influence lives on in the work of integrationist linguists, who believe that language cannot be considered separately from other aspects of human behaviour. "[the integrationist approach] sees language as manifested in a complex of human abilities and activities that are all integrated in social interaction, often intricately so and in such a manner that it makes little sense to segregate the linguistic from the non- linguistic components." Roy Harris, 1998: 6
A Lesson with the Audio-Visual Method Mu orvil Amu evahc Um livro Uma chave Mu sipal Amu adeom Um lapis Uma moeda Mu onredac Amu atenac Um caderno Uma caneta Otsi é mu sipal? Mis, otsi é mu sipal. Isto é um lapis? Sim, isto é um lapis. Otsi é amu evahc? Oan, otsi oan é amu evahc. Isto é uma chave? Não, isto não é uma chave. Ehco é otsi? O che é isto?
The Mentalist Approach Chomskyan linguistics. Noam Chomsky's focus is on what is in the mind (anathema to behaviourists because the mind cannot be directly observed). For NC language use is free, independent of stimuli in the environment, spontaneous and often creative. Language is not even primarily concerned with communication. "For Chomsky language exists first and foremost in the mind and is used above all in thought and expressing our ideas to ourselves. While the same system is also used to express ideas to other people and communicate with them, this is not its primary or most frequent function." Chapman, 2006: 41. When Robinson Crusoe was alone on his desert island he had no one to communicate with or to provide stimuli, but he was still using language in his thoughts.
Language must provide "finite means but infinite possibilities of expression" Chomsky, 1966: 29. We have a finite number of words and structures but there is no limit to the ways we can combine them to produce novel utterances. Behaviourism implies a collection of socially appropriate responses to certain stimuli, therefore a lack of creativity. For Chomsky we are all capable of producing a sentence that has never been said before in the history of the human species. Twenty-seven dead kangaroos held a meeting on an iceberg to discuss changes to the philosophy and female rugby programme at the Invisible University of Quartucciu. Is this sentence grammatically correct?
Language is rule-based. Our implicit knowledge of the rules of our native language allow us to make judgements about grammaticality. Held changes an programme female to philosophy kangaroos Quartucciu discuss on meeting Invisible the and rugby of female to iceberg dead University twenty-seven a. Behaviourism stresses imitation. Mentalism (Chomskyan linguistics) stresses creativity. Mentalist researchers take their data only from the judgements and intuitions of native speakers. Implicit knowledge vs explicit knowledge.
Universal Grammar (UG). For Chomsky the essential rules are universal to all languages. All languages consist of nouns, verbs and adjectives. All sound systems consist of consonants and vowels. Individual languages permit different ways of combining these components but according to the theory of UG the variations occur within certain parameters. For Chomsky an extra-terrestrial being visiting our planet would conclude that all earthlings speak essentially the same language. Note that the technical terminology of grammatical description is very easy to translate from one language to another.
The Innate Hypothesis (IH). We are born with the rules of UG; they are part of our genetic endowment. This would explain why we all learn our native language perfectly and quickly (typically in about four years). So why doesn't UG allow us to learn a second language just as easily? It is possible that it disappears after it has done its job of allowing us to acquire our mother tongue, so we have to learn a second language in other ways and generally do not do so 100% successfully. Babies brought up with two languages acquire both with no difficulty. After a certain age, learning becomes much harder. The case of the feral child Genie (Ellis p.68). BUT: the phenomenon of hyperpolyglots - Donald Kenrick speaks 70 languages.
"Language is not defined by the circumstances in which it is used or the communicative purposes to which it is put. It is manifest not primarily in speech or writing but in thought." Chapman, 2006: 44. language use of language 'competence' 'performance' 'I-language' 'E-language' (I = internalized) (E = externalized) Mentalists focus their research on competence. For them, performance is not language. What are the factors that can affect performance?
Chomsky's 'transformational-generative grammar'. 'deep structure' and 'surface structure' John is easy to please. John is eager to please. NP VP AdjP John is easy to please John is eager to please Deep structure: in the first sentence John is the unstated object of 'to please' (It is easy to please John); in the second sentence John is the unstated subject of 'to please' (John pleases others and he does so eagerly). Our knowledge of deep structure in unconscious and is part of a native speaker’s I-language/competence.
Further evidence of deep structure is provided by our ability to recognize ambiguity. Flying planes can be dangerous. (Chomsky, 1966) What disturbed John was being disregarded by everyone. (Ibid.) Can you say why these sentences are ambiguous?
Criticism of the mentalists 1.Chomsky imagines an ideal speaker-listener in a completely homogenous speech-community whose judgements and intuitions are infallible. This is not the real world. 2.His work is not the result of empirical research based on observation. Speculations upon what is in the mind is little more than an act of faith. 3.It is wrong to give so little attention to language as communication and to ignore performance.
In defence of Chomsky 1.There is no proof that UG or the IH exist but also no evidence to disprove either claim. There have been no recorded cases of children with normal brains and with normal exposure to language failing to learn their mother tongue. 2.Chomsky's work has led to important insights in how first and second languages are acquired.
To sum up… External environment “Black box” Behaviourist view--------Interactionist view---------Mentalist view SLA a fairly new discipline. Some don’t consider it a branch of linguistics, especially in Italy. There is not yet a unified theory of SLA, but any such theory will have to account for at least five phenomena: (i)transfer from L1 to L2 (positive and negative); (ii)the staged development of the TL (target language); (iii)the systematicity of knowledge of the TL; (iv)variability in production of TL; (v)fossilization.
Social and psychological factors. Resistance to learning Russian in E. Europe but enthusiasm for English. British kids’ refusal to learn French. Two main strands of research: (i) the nature of the language acquisition process: (ii) factors that affect language learning (which can then inform teaching methodology). Ellis. Research methodology: analysing samples of learner language (error analysis). Role of input. Instructed vs naturalistic settings. Formulae. Item learning vs system learning. Beginners who say “no have” but “I dunno”. And you all have to choose an area of SLA to investigate in detail!
What happens to Universal Grammar as we grow older? UG and the Innateness Hypothesis explain why FLA is so rapid and so successful. So why can’t we use UG to help us acquire an L2? It is possible that it becomes deactivated after a certain age. Four hypotheses: (i)Zero access (ii)Partial access (e.g. principles but not parameters) (iii)Dual access (UG but also other learning mechanisms) (iv)Full access
Error Analysis (EA) Ellis (1997: 15-20) S. Pit Corder, “The significance of learners’ errors” (Ellis, pp 93,94) “transitional competence” How can we distinguish between “errors” and “mistakes”?
Learners’ errors A.Where you live? B.It’s difficult but not impossible. Are you agree? C.His wife can’t have children. She’s inconceivable. D.My legs aren’t feet and anyway my mind isn’t round. E.She couldn’t explained the problem. A teacher’s reaction 1.Definitely a transfer error. Direct translation of L1 structure. 2.Probably a unique error. Maybe caused by misuse of a dictionary. 3.A mistake. She more or less knows the rule but has applied it badly. 4.Difficult to say whether this is a transfer or an intralingual problem. 5.What has this guy been smoking?
Ellis (2008: 55, 56) lists the principal findings of EA studies as follows: 1. EA has provided empirical evidence to support the mentalist rather than the behaviourist view of language acquisition. 2. The majority of errors are intralingual, related to the target language itself. 3. Fewer errors are caused by transfer, and transfer errors occur more with adults than with children. 4. Transfer errors are more likely to be phonological or lexical than grammatical. 5. Errors are an inevitable part of the learning process since they are symptomatic of the learner’s hypothesising, misapplication of rules, risk-taking, processing problems, performance pressures, etc. 6. Errors indicate steps in the learner’s creation of a mental grammar.
More on errors: Classification (e.g. Grammar: omission, misinformation) Explanation: transfer, overgeneralization “Errors are, to a large extent, systematic and, to a certain extent, predictable.” (Ellis 1997: 18) “Errors are not only systematic; many of them are also universal.” (Ellis 1997: 19) Error evaluation: global v. local errors
Development patterns silent period acquisition order (e.g. -ing before –ed) sequence of acquisition: U-shaped course of development e.g. acquisition sequence for irregular past “wrote”: write wrote (lack of competence) (system learning) U wrote wroted (item learning) (hybrid form) writed (overgeneralization)
Past-tense marking: Learners seem to find it easier for verbs that refer to events (arrived, fell) than for those that refer to activities (slept, played). Conclusions: (i) errors are systematic; (ii) some features (e.g. plural s) are inherently easier than others (e.g. possessive ’s). Variability in learner language is also systematic e.g. omission of is/’s is less common with pronoun subjects than with noun subjects, so one linguistic form can trigger the use/omission of another. Variability is affected by: situational context, psychological context (e.g. planning time), form-function mappings, e.g. Don’t stop (correct negative imperative) but She no want (incorrect negative declarative).
Sociopragmatic errors “That’s a nice dress you’re wearing.” “Yes, I know. It really suits me, doesn’t it?” A fictitious email from a student: Dear Teacher, It is with the deepest sense of shame that I appeal to your kind and generous nature and beg you with the utmost humility to grant me an extension to the deadline for the submission of my homework. Yours most humbly and gratefully, XXXX An authentic email from a student: Salve prof. Mi può dire quando deve pubblicare gli esiti dell’esame? XXXX
An authentic conversation “Sei pneumologo?” “No, non sono medico.” “Cosa fai?” “Sono professore di ingegneria.” “Bene. E quanto guadagni?”
Correction of errors and/or mistakes How not to do it: “I’m sorry I missed the lesson last week. I have been to my baby daughter’s funeral.” “I WENT to my baby daughter’s funeral. If it’s LAST WEEK you use the past simple.” When and how should we correct errors and mistakes? Your opinions please.
INTERLANGUAGE THEORY (Larry Selinker, 1972) An L2 learner’s interlanguage is the mental grammar that s/he constructs. It is a system of abstract linguistic rules that underlies the learner’s comprehension and production of the TL. Interlanguage theory is based on the Chomskyan/Mentalist view of language as rule-based and language acquisition as a cognitive phenomenon. The learner’s interlanguage contains features of both L1 and L2 but is independent of both.
The Characteristics of Interlanguage The learner’s mental grammar is permeable. It absorbs influences from outside (input) and inside (transfer from learner’s L1, overgeneralization). It is transitional. The rules in the learner’s mental grammar are incomplete or incorrect according to TL norms. The learner is constantly restructuring and updating his/her system of grammatical rules. The interlanguage continuum covers the entire span between L1 only and L2 mastery. Progress is not regular and orderly but erratic. Periods of backsliding may occur. Errors may be the result of competing rules: e.g. He can drives. Rule 1: infinitive without to after a modal auxiliary verb. Rule 2: -s inflection on 3 rd person singular verbs.
The development of the interlanguage is influenced by the learning strategies that people employ. Omission errors may indicate that a learner is consciously avoiding certain grammatical features that s/he is not yet ready to produce. L1 transfer and overgeneralization may also be strategies. Usually learners do not achieve L2 competence comparable to that of a native speaker of the TL. Selinker suggests that the L2 learner’s grammar fossilizes in 95% of cases. Fossilization never occurs in FLA but is almost inevitable in SLA. (the other great difference between FLA and SLA is the matter of transfer).
Ellis’s computational model of L2 acquisition (1997: 35) input output n.b. Ellis’s “black box” has become blue.
Social and Discourse Aspects of Interlanguage Social aspects Prevailing perspective of interlanguage is psycholinguistic but there are also social aspects: (i) styles; (ii) social factors determine input; (iii) social identities shape opportunities to speak, and therefore to learn an L2. Elaine Tarone’s stylistic continuum: from careful to vernacular. In SLA style shifts are more psycholinguistic than social. A crucial factor is planning time. * When do you use careful and vernacular styles in English? * Is the careful style always more correct?
Accommodation theory (Howard Giles). Convergence and Divergence in verbal interaction. Are learners encouraged to converge on native-speaker norms (which will lead to high level of proficiency) or to their own social in-group norms (therefore early fossilization). * Do you converge on your interlocutor’s norms? Note English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). John Schumann’s Acculturation Model. Social and psychological proximity or distance. His use of pidginization instead of fossilization. Hispanics in the USA. Indians and Pakistanis in the UK. Italians in the USA in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.
Bonny Peirce’s theory of social identity and investment. Successful learners invest effort to acquire cultural capital (knowledge + modes of thought) and assert themselves as subject of interaction (rather than subject to interaction). “A learner’s social identity is, according to Peirce, ‘multiple and contradictory’. Learning is successful when learners are able to summon up or construct an identity that enables them to impose their right to be heard and this become the subject of the discourse.” (Ellis, 1997: 42).
Discourse aspects of interlanguage and the role of NSs in helping NNSs acquire the TL. Discourse rules (related to pragmatics and sociolinguistics). In FLA we know that caretakers modify their speech (motherese); perhaps in SLA we employ “foreigner talk”. Grammatical and ungrammatical foreigner talk (Ellis, 1997: 46). Negotiation of meaning: do learners signal that they haven’t understood or do they pretend/bluff?
Stephen Krashen’s input hypothesis (i + 1). [i = the current state of the learner’s interlanguage] Input modifications in foreigner talk give learners the right level of comprehensible input. i + 1: the input is just slightly more advanced than the learner’s current interlanguage and is therefore comprehensible. i + 8: the input is much too advanced and is therefore incomprehensible. For Krashen output is the result not the cause of acquisition.
Scaffolding (impalcatura): Evelyn Hatch’s metaphor of how a NS’s input allows learners to construct the L2. Vygotsky’s “activity theory”. Key notion is “internalization”. Developoment manifests itself first through social interaction – learner + “expert” who provides “scaffolding” – and later is “internalized” by the learner. “Zone of proximal development”: Vygotsky’s term for cognitive level that learner is not yet at (as autonomous person) but is capable of performing at with adult/expert guidance/scaffolding. Jerome Bruner (n.b. mentioned in Ellis 1997) and the LASS. LAD (Language Acquisition Device): Chomsky’s term for the innate capacity for language acquisition that the human baby has. LASS (Language Acquisition Support System): Bruner’s term for the role of mothers/caretakers. Every LAD needs a LASS.
Conflicting views on the role of output Stephen KrashenMerrill Swain Speaking is the result of acquisition, not its cause. We acquire an L2 thanks to comprehensible input, i.e. by listening, reflecting and updating our interlanguage, not by speaking. Output is only helpful if the learner treats it as “auto-input”. Output has a consciousness-raising function. It makes learners aware of gaps in their interlanguage (when they can’t express something). Output gives learners the opportunity to test hypotheses and study negative or positive feedback. Talking about their own output may be beneficial.
Ideas for mini projects: 1. your own observations/experiences of the stylistic continuum; 2. your own observations/experiences of accommodation and/or foreigner talk; 3. Schumann’s Acculturation Model applied to an immigrant community (or an individual) you know something about; 4. in addition to the input hypothesis, Krashen’s work on the monitor hypothesis, the affective filter and the natural order hypothesis.
Psycholinguistics and Cross-Linguistic Influence (Transfer) Psycholinguistics is the study of the mental processes involved in SLA. Why is Cross-Linguistic Influence a better term than Transfer?
When something is transferred from site A to site B, it is no longer present at site A (think of transferring money from one account to another). When a feature of L1 is used in L2, it obviously does not disappear from L1. But the term transfer is often used for the sake of brevity. Also transfer is syntactically flexible; it is a noun that can be used as a premodifier before another noun (e.g. transfer error). Cross-Linguistic Influence by Terence Odlin in Doughty and Long pp 436-486.
Types of Transfer Substratum transfer (L1 influences L2) Borrowing transfer (L2 influences L1) Negative transfer (interference) Positive transfer Reverse (Borrowing) transfer
Changing perceptions of transfer During days of Behaviourism, study of transfer phenomena led to Contrastive Analysis. Teaching materials focused on the differences between the two languages. It was assumed that similarities would produce positive transfer, so were not a problem (but, overuse). L1 interference was seen as the greatest impediment to L2 acquisition. Today Contrastive Analysis is seen as an oversimplification of the situation. The Mentalists downplayed the importance of transfer, but they went too far in claiming it was responsible for a very small percentage of errors (their “Minimalist” view). Error Analysis studies have shown that transfer does not have a minimal influence.
For Selinker, transfer is not interference but ‘input from the inside’ (Ellis 1997: 52). Knowledge of L1 is one of the many factors at work as learners assemble their mental grammar. Selinker sees transfer as one of the processes involved in fossilization. Constraints on transfer Kellerman’s break (English)/breken (Dutch) studies (Ellis 2008: 349-403). Dutch students translated breken as break when it referred to a literal fracture but were reluctant to do so for more figurative meranings. Learners have perceptions of which features of their L1 are basic and which are unique to that L1. Translate minutes into Italian: The bus arrives in five minutes. The secretary kept the minutes of the meeting.
Learners’ stage of development is relevant to transfer phenomena. Learners at elementary level cannot commit certain transfer errors because their interlanguage has not yet developed enough to allow them to attempt advanced structures. Negative transfer involving speech acts only begins when the learner has reached a certain level of competence. For example, excessively elaborate requests: Might I impinge upon your valuable time for one moment and ask you if it would be terribly inconvenient to allow me to borrow your pen for a matter of some seconds? Politeness is an area in which cross-linguistic influence is often evident.
The role of consciousness Krashen’s distinction between implicit knowledge of the language acquired subconsciously through comprehending input while communicating and explicit knowledge about the language resulting from conscious learning. He believes there is no interface between the two Others argue that learners can convert learnt knowledge into acquired knowledge through practice, which leads to automaticity.
Richard Schmidt’s less extreme position. He distinguishes between intentionality (conscious learning) and incidental learning (acquisition through exposure). But he argues that even in the latter some conscious attention to input occurs. Schmidt calls this noticing.
The distinction between Implicit and Explicit knowledge is crucial but the debate concerns the interface between the two. REFLECT: many people have implicit knowledge of their L1 they they could never explain explicitly: Italian is a pro-drop language, i.e. one in which it is possible to omit the subject. In the following sentence does the unstated subject of the verb phrase avrebbe vinto refer to ognuno or to somebody “outside” the sentence? Ognuno credeva che avrebbe vinto la gara.
In some circumstances the L2 learner’s explicit knowledge might hinder acquisition of implicit knowledge (self-correction of errors); some say explicit knowledge equips the learner to notice better and thus convert input into intake. Noticing gaps.
Processing operations: focuses on learners output to deduce the processing operations they perform. Operating Principles: from observations of children’s L1 acquisition, Slobin noted that they adopt strategies he called operating principles. One example is the avoidance of exceptions: My brother made me to give him some money. (Italian children: più meglio). Anderson noted that L2 learners have similar macro principles: an example is one-to-one relationship of form to meaning/function (no + verb in affirmatives but don’t + verb in imperatives). Processing Constraints: these govern when it is possible for the learner to move on from one stage to the next. The multi-dimensional model postulates that some grammatical features are learnt according to developmental sequence but others can be acquired at any time and are thus variational. The learning of variational f eatures is related to motivation and Schumann’s idea of acculturation.
Learners’ Communication Strategies from a psycholinguistic point of view. Does frequent resort to a strategy (e.g. paraphrase) help learners notice the gap, or does effective communication thanks to such strategies obviate the need to acquire the target feature?
Linguistic aspects of interlanguage Typological Universals: the example of relative clauses and the accessibility hierarchy (Ellis 1997: 64, Table 7.1). Do you think you could use the “object of comparative” type of relative clause? Note the difficulty regarding genitive relative clauses. Maybe all genitive structures should be classified in a hierarchy of their own.
Universal Grammar: UG principles & parameters SVO, SOV, VSO + (non) pro-drop etc. Ellis (1997: 65,66) gives the example of local or long-distance binding of reflexive pronouns: The actress blamed herself. Emily knew the actress would blame herself. Translate this sentence into English: Si sono guardati.
Learnability. Chomsky’s notion of the poverty of stimulus to claim that babies learning L1 only receive positive evidence of what is right but not negative evidence of what is wrong (parents do not correct language of small children), yet before starting school they have mastered most of the grammatical code. They have an innate ability to acquire language (LAD – Language Acquisition Device) which includes instinctive knowledge of what is possible according to the rules of UG. [Bruner and LASS – Language Acquisition Support System].
Critical Period Hypothesis Note evidence from pre- and post-puberty accident victims who lose language ability and need to recover it. Pronunciation and grammar are more affected than lexis. There is not a clear cut-off date and a few exceptional people appear not to have this constraint. L1 learners have no negative transfer and no social distance. But it is also possible that post-puberty L2 learners do not have access to UG.
Access to UG: (i) complete access, therefore denies existence of critical period; (ii) no access, so learner can never achieve full proficiency and her interlanguage grammar may contain ‘impossible rules’ prohibited by UG; (iii) partial access, so L2 acquisition is a combination of UG instinctive knowledge and conscious learning; (iv) dual access, UG and learning strategies exist side-by-side but do not always complement each other.
Markedness Unmarked structures are governed by UG (il libro) but marked structures are outside UG (la mano). Logically, according to the accessibility hierarchy, unmarked structures should be acquired before marked, but frequency must also be considered. Frequent marked structures are acquired before infrequent unmarked structures (e.g. frequent irregular past tense verbs). Positive transfer of unmarked but not marked L1 features (English speakers do not transfer preposition stranding to L2).
To sum up… … we have considered how the success of SLA depends on two factors: (i) the learner’s cognitive processes, and (ii) the nature of language learning in general (UG, LAD etc,) and of the specific TL (transfer, accessibility etc).
What comes next? In the next two or three lessons we are going to look at individual differences, i.e. the reasons some people are better language learners than others. Specifically: Language aptitude Age Cognitive and learning styles Learning strategies Anxiety Gender Instruction and correction Attitudes and motivation
Your priorities: (i)Choose a topic for your mini presentation. Remember, if you don’t do it now, you will have to do it when you come to the oral exam. It’s better to do the presentation now because we can all learn from one another. Last year a student did a really interesting presentation on a subject I knew nothing about (how active bilingualism delays the development of Alzheimer’s disease). (ii)Make sure you are preparing properly for the written exam. Write two or three practice compositions and ask Barbara to correct them.
LESSON SIX: Individual differences in L2 acquisition. Dörnyei & Skehan in Doughty and Long (eds), pp 589-630 1. Aptitude. What is it? John Carroll: (i) phonemic coding ability, (ii) grammatical sensitivity, (iii) inductive language learning ability, (iv) rote learning ability. Aptitude is separate from achievement, general intelligence and motivation. It is a stable factor and almost certainly inate.
Hyperpolyglots: Dr Emil Krebs (1867-1930) could translate from 100 languages and could speak sixty of them. Today Donald Kenrick speaks seventy languages. Babel No More (2012), Michael Erard All agree that L2 aptitude involves auditory ability, linguistic ability and memory ability.
2. Age Michael Long, Stabilization and Fossilization in Second Language Learning, in Doughty and Long. The Critical Period Hypothesis CPH and access to UG.
Why is there a critical period for learning language? How long is that critical period? The critical period is thought to be related to brain plasticity and lateralization. Plasticity refers to how flexible the brain is in learning various functions. Lateralization refers to the specializations of the two sides, or hemispheres, of the brain. Scientists believe that the critical period for first language acquisition ends somewhere between the ages of 4 and 12. At this age, the brain appears to lose its plasticity for learning language. In addition, specialized language behaviours become controlled primarily by the left hemisphere of the brain. In theory, if a child is not exposed to language during the critical period, he/she will never be able to acquire it normally. n.b. the case of Genie.
3. Learning strategies Cognitive styles Cook (2001:137) describes cognitive style as ‘a person’s typical ways of thinking, seen as a continuum between field-dependent ( FD ) cognitive style, in which thinking relates to context, and field-independent style ( FI ), in which it is independent of context.’ FD----------------------------------------------------------------------FI
Cook’s hypothetical test to identify FD and FI individuals (2001:137) would be to place people in a room that slowly began to tilt to one side; FD people would lean in order to remain parallel to the walls, thus adapting to a changed environment, while FI individuals would crook one knee and endeavour to remain perpendicular, and in so doing would be acting independently of their surroundings.
The cheaper and altogether more practicable method of measuring field dependence is the Group Embedded Figures Test ( GEFT ), which requires subjects to try to identify certain shapes in pictures that contain a mass of confusing details that render the relevant shapes difficult to distinguish. Since FD people are thought to perceive a wood while FI individuals see a collection of individual trees, the latter are those who are most able to pick out the required shapes in the GEFT.
The construct of field dependence was originally proposed by Witkin et al in 1971 (cited in Ellis 1994: 500) who described the wood v. trees issue in terms of details that are “fused” or “discrete”: In a field-dependent mode of perceiving, perception is strongly dominated by the overall organization of the surrounding field, and parts of the field are experienced as ‘fused’. In a field-independent mode of perceiving, parts of the field are experienced as discrete from organized ground […] ‘field dependent’ and ‘field independent’, like the designations ‘tall’ and ‘short’, are relative. (Witkin et al 1971:4)
The analytic predisposition of FI individuals contrasts with FD people’s preference for a more holistic approach to processing information. The former ‘are more likely to analyze information into its component parts, and to distinguish the essential from the inessential’ (Dörnyei & Skehan 2003: 602), while the latter tackle information as whole structures. FI individualsFD individuals analytical approachholistic approach introvertedsociable, outgoing individualisticgroup-centred self-motivatedresponsive to external stimuli
FD and FI individuals and SLA The more gregarious FD people are more suited to communicative language activities and team work. The analytic FI people have an advantage in such operations as inferring rules and norms.
Specific research into the influence of field (in)dependence on the acquisition of additional languages has produced somewhat equivocal findings but the balance of the evidence available points to more substantial advantages for the FI style, most of all when acquisition occurs in the context of formal instruction. In western society this is hardly surprising given the educational tradition that favours an analytic approach and ‘pushes students up the rungs of a ladder of abstraction away from the concrete’ (Cook 2001:138). THINK ABOUT IT: do tests and exams of second language competence favour FD or FI people?
Learning styles Reid (1987) carried out research with learners of different L1s. She identified four broad categories of learning preference: 1. visual learners, for whom reading and the study of charts and tables is fundamental; 2. auditory learners, who prefer lectures and audiotapes; 3. kinesthetic learners, for whom physical involvement and experiential learning are favoured; 4. tactile learners, who require a “hands-on” approach in activities such as building models or conducting laboratory experiments.
Gender was shown to have an influence, with males preferring visual and tactile learning significantly more than females. Cultural background was also a vital parameter: perhaps surprisingly, native speakers of English were less tactile in their learning style preferences than all non-native speaker language backgrounds and significantly less tactile than Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Spanish speakers, while Japanese speakers were the least auditory of all the respondents. AND YOU? Do you prefer studying alone or with others?
Oxford and Anderson (1995) consider the domains of cognition, sensory preference and personality in identifying eight continua of particular relevance to second language acquisition: global v. analytic field-dependent v. field-independent feeling v. thinking impulsive v. reflective intuitive-random v. concrete-sequential closure-oriented/judging v. open/perceiving extroverted v. introverted visual v. auditory v. tactile/kinesthetic http://web.ntpu.edu.tw/~language/workshop/read2.pdf Do you recognize yourself in any of the eight continua?
From style to strategy/ies Do you have any special strategies for remembering vocabulary? More general L2 learning strategies? Has a teacher ever tried to convince you to adopt a strategy that you felt was just not right for you? Can strategies be taught? How can we turn people into autonomous learners?
4.Anxiety (i) facilitating v. debilitating anxiety (ii) trait v. situation-specific anxiety Your experiences? Oral exams? Defending your thesis? Speaking L2 in front of friends?
5. Sex sex v. gender Ellis (208: 313-316). Three pages in book of over 1000 pages Buckledee (2011: 143-148) It is possible that females perform better in instructed settings, i.e. when it is a case of learning rather than acquisition. Most hyperpolyglots are male. A high percentage of them are gay and left-handed (Erard 2012). Some research suggests that females are more sensitive to input. Does this confirm what many women claim, i.e. that men don’t listen? YOUR VIEWS?
6. Instruction and correction “Com’è il tuo inglese?” “Scolastico.” What does scolastico mean in this context? Why do state schools in some countries do a good job of teaching languages but in other countries (notably Italy and the UK) schools fail to produce young people with real L2 skills? What are your experiences? Have you ever had a truly inspirational teacher or a truly useless one? Are you or have you been or do you hope to become a language teacher? n.b two of our graduates are currently teaching French in state schools in England. They have full-time, permanent jobs.
MOTIVATION Attitudes v. Motivation “Although motivation and attitudes are clearly related, there is, however, an essential difference between them; while the former tends to be unstable, varying in nature and intensity according to mood, recent experience, peer pressure and many other factors, the latter, being a fundamental part of an individual’s structure of beliefs and values, are notoriously difficult to modify.” Buckledee (2011: 11), The Role of Motivation in Second Language Acquisition. Definitions of motivation (pp 17-20) Hyperpolyglots (pp 21-25)
Types of Motivation and Motivation Theories Intrinsic v. Extrinsic motivation Instrumental v. Integrative motivation Machiavellian motivation Resultative motivation Gardner’s Socio-Educational Model Goal theories Expectancy-value theories Self-determination theory Foraging for knowledge: a neurobiological explanation of motivation Willingness to communicate Task motivation The Cagliari Survey The Cagliari Case Study
Motivation over time: Dőrnyei and Ottó’s Process Model Achievement and attribution: Weiner’s Attribution Theory The Self in L2 motivation The personal Self and the social/cultural Self Heritage languages The influence of age, gender and learning environment on motivation THE BIG QUESTION: are you sufficiently motivated to make enough effort to pass the exam?