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Formal Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Steven Robinson Blackman High School

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1 Formal Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Steven Robinson Blackman High School

2 Innatism Approach Theorized by Noam Chomsky Children are born with a knowledge of Universal Grammar (also known as a language acquisition device according to Krashen) (Innatism n.d.). Due to this innate ability, children can learn a complex language with relatively little input (Innatism n.d.).. According to this theory, learning languages is a natural, biological process.

3 Innatism Approach Myles (2008) claims that Innatism may actually make learning a second language more difficult. One theory believed by some innatists is the language acquisition device (LAD) declines with age. The language acquisition device (LAD) is the ability of the brain to process and learn a language (Language Acquisition Device 2010).

4 Interactionist Approach Based upon the research of Lev Vygotsky Learning involves interactions between students, teachers, and peers (Vygotsky 1986). Interaction serves as a source of input and is important to learning (Lantolf 2000).

5 Interactionist Approach The focus of this approach is more on comprehension and less upon grammar (Johnson n.d.). Beginners and advanced speakers negotiate meaning and feedback can be provided (Johnson n.d.)

6 The Age Factor The Critical Period Hypothesis: Language learning can only take place naturally between age 2-12 (Lenneburg 1967). Others theorize that the age stereotype is a myth and that adults can learn just efficiently as children. While children may have an advantage in becoming fluent in the long run, adults actually learn languages faster (Krashen, Long, Scarcella 1979).

7 Other Critical Factors Affecting Acquisition Motivation is a key factor when learning a second language. The similarities or differences between L1 and L2. For example, it would be easier for a German person to learn English than a Chinese person based on how similar German and English are. Quality of instruction is a major factor. A sociable person that likes to talk often would more likely learn a language faster than a very reserved person.

8 SLA: Tips for Teachers Many students will go through a silent period in which they do not speak much if at all in the target language. Second language students perform better in relaxed environments in which their affective filters are lowered. Use different teaching styles to reach out to the different learning styles: kinesthetic, visual, aural, etc. Be encouraging! A positive environment goes a long way, and optimism is contagious.

9 Which Approach is Best For My Students? The Interactionist Approach works best for my students through: Group work and collaboration in English. Encouraging output in English amongst all students. Simulating real-life situations in class. Negotiating meaning to acquire new vocabulary and fluency in English.

10 My Opinion of the Approaches I agree with the Innatism Approach because I believe that it is a natural ability to learn how to speak a language. The Interactionist Approach is more useful in the classroom because interaction speeds up the learning process, engages the learner, negotiates meaning, and helps the learner to become fluent in the language. Interaction is the main purpose behind language; therefore, interacting in a language is the best way to achieve fluency in it.

11 Resources for Teachers Learning Styles/Multiple Intelligences Dave’s ESL Café ESL Gold ESL Flow Linguistic Funland http://www.linguistic-

12 Sources Innatism (n.d.). ESL Glossary. Retrieved from Johnson, M. (n.d.). Social Interactionist Theory. eHow. Retrieved from interactionist-theory.html interactionist-theory.html Krashen, S., Long, M., & Scarcella, R. (1979) Age, Rate, and Eventual Attainment in Second Language Acquisition. TESOL Quarterly 13. 573-582. Language Acquisition Device (2010). Wikipedia. Retrieved from Lantolf, J. P. (Ed.) (2000). Sociocultural theory and second language learning. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from Lenneberg, E.H. (1967) Biological foundations of language. New York: Wiley and sons. Retrieved from Myles, F. (2008). Second language acquisition (SLA) research: Its significance for learning and teaching issues. Retrieved from Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Retrieved from

13 MTSU Honor Statement This assignment/assessment was solely written by me. In no way have I plagiarized (represented the work of another as my own) or otherwise violated the copyright laws and academic conventions of fair use. I know that violations of this policy may result in my being dismissed from Middle Tennessee State University and/or appropriate legal action being taken against me. Steven Robinson 5-24-2010

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