The recent history of
second language learning
research and human
Part I L1 Acquisition
Introduction to Language
Interests in L1 competence for many centuries
 beginning of analyzing child language systematically
and its psychological process in the second half of the
20th century
 analogies between L1 and L2 acquisition especially
the differences in the case of adult SL learning in
terms of cognitive and affective contrasts
 three theoretical positions of first language
Theories of L1 acquisition
(1) Behavioristic Approaches: focus on the
publicly observable responses
(a) assumptions:
(i) Children come into the world with a tabula rasa, a clean
slate bearing no preconceived notions about the world or
about language as to be shaped by their environment and
slowing conditioned through reinforcement
(ii) Effective language behavior is the production of correct
responses to stimuli.
(iii) If a particular response is reinforced, it then becomes
habitual or conditioned.
Theories of L1 acquisition
(b) Verbal Behavior by B.F. Skinner (1957): a behavioristic
model of linguistic behavior extended from operant conditioning
(i) an operant (an utterance) is emitted without necessarily
observable stimuli;
(ii) that operant is learned by reinforcement such as from another
(iii)verbal behavior is controlled by its consequences(rewards or
punishment or no reinforcement)
*Criticism: Behaviorism cannot explain creativity of child language
(by Noam Chomsky)
Theories of L1 acquisition
(2) The Nativist Approaches
(a) innateness hypotheses
(i) Assertion: language acquisition is innately determined.
Language is a species-specific behavior and certain modes
of perception, categorizing abilities are biologically
determined. (by Eric Lenneberg, 1967)
Language acquisition device (LAD) in a little black box
sound discrimination, organization of linguistic data, only
one possibility of a certain kind of linguistic system within
one’s head, constant evaluation in developing linguistic
system to construct the simplest possible system out of the
available linguistic input(by Chomsky, 1965)
(ii) strengths: able to account for the generativity of child
Universal Grammar (Cook 1993, Mitchell & Myles 1998)
(i) all human beings are genetically equipped with abilities that enable
them to acquire language
(ii) to discover what it is that all children bring to the language
acquisition process from question formation, negation, word order,
subject deletion and so on.
(c) the development of generative grammar: children construct hypothetical
grammar, formal representations of deep structures which start as pivot
grammars (two-word utterances for two word classes) and mature.
(d) the Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) Model by Spolsky
(i) A learner’s linguistic performance may be the consequence of
many levels of simultaneous neural interconnections rather than a
serial process of one rule being applied, then another and so on.
(ii) refutation of the generative rule-governed model: generative
rules in a linguistic sense are not connected serially, with one
connection between each pair of neurons in the brain
(e) Contributions of Nativism:
(i) able to explore the unseen, observable, underlying, abstract
linguistic structures being developed in the child
(ii) systematic description of the child’s linguistic repertoire as either
rule-governed or operating out of parallel distributed processing
(iii) the construction of a number of potential properties of UG
Theories of L1 acquisition
(3) Functional Approaches (language use and
cognitive/affective domains by constructivism)
(a) Two emphases:
(i) Seeing language as one manifestation of the cognitive and affective
ability to deal with the world, with others and with
the self.
(ii) Nativism as being unable to deal with the deeper levels of meaning of
language constructed from social interaction but with the forms of
(b) cognition and language development:
(i) Lois Bloom (1971): children learn underlying structures and
not superficial word order as shown in pivot grammar,
depending on the social context
(ii) Jean Piaget (1969): what children know (cognition
development) will determine what they learn about the code
for both speaking and understanding messages (language
(iii) Dan Slobin (1971): in all languages, semantic learning
depends on cognitive development and that sequences of
development are determined more by semantic complexity,
than by structural complexity-> schema of cognition on the
functional level and schema of grammar on the formal level
(c) social interaction and language development
(i) Holzman (1984): a reciprocal model
-> a reciprocal system operates
between the language –
developing infant-child and the
competenc adult language user in
a socializing-teaching-nurturing role
(ii) Berko Gleason (1988) & Lock (1991): the interaction
between language acquisition and learning of social
(iii) Budwig (1995) & Kuczaj (1984): the function of language in
discourse (relations between sentences) in terms of
conversational cues
* Schools of thought in First Language Acquisition
Time Frame
Schools of thought
Typical themes
Early 1900s, 1940s &1950s
Tabula rasa
Stimuli: linguistic responses
1960s & 1970s
Innate predispositions (LAD & UG)
systematic, rule-governed acquisition
Creative construction
Pivot Grammar
Parallel distributed processing (PDP)
1980s, 1990s & early 2000
Social interaction
Cognition and language
Function of language
* Schools of thought in SLA
Time Frame
Schools of thought
Typical themes
Early 1900s, 1940s &1950s
Structuralism &
Observable performance
Scientific method
Surface structure
Conditioning, reinforcement
1960s & 1970s
Rationalism & Cognitive
Generative linguistics
Acquisition, innateness
Interlanguage systematicity
Universal grammar
Deep structure
1980s, 1990s & early 2000
Interactive discourse
Sociocultural variables
Cooperative group learning
Interlanguage variability Interactionist
Part I L1 Acquisition
2. Issues in L1 acquisition
(1) -Competence: one’s underlying knowledge of the
system of a language
- Performance: actual production (speaking, writing)
or the comprehension (listening, reading) of linguistic events
(i) competence defined by Chomsky consists of the abilities of an
idealized hearer-speaker, devoid of any performance variables
(ii) dualism are unnecessary and the only option for linguists is to study
language in use (by Firth and Halliday)
(iii) heterogeneous competence by Tarone: that all of a child’s skps and
hesitations and self-corrections are potentially connected to
(2)Comprehension & production
(i) comprehension and production can be aspects of both
competence and performance.
(ii) Production competence = comprehension competence?
(iii) Superiority of production over comprehension?
(3) Nature or nurture?-> what’s predetermined and
what’s learned?
(i) Nativism: universal innateness in all human beings (the LAD
or UG)
(ii) Environmental factors also matter
(a) language is universally acquired in the same manner
(b) the deep structure of language at its deepest level may be common
to all languages.
(c) Universal linguistic categories e.g. word order, morphological
marking tone, agreement…
(d) Principles & parameters of UG:
(i) a child’s initial state is supposed to consist of a set of universal
principles (e.g. structure dependency) which specify some
limited possibilities of variation, so-called parameters which
need to be fixed in one of a few possible ways.
-> a child’s task of language learning is manageable
because of certain naturally occurring constraints
(ii) language cannot vary in endless ways since parameters
determine ways in which language can vary. E.g head
parameter (English- head first; Japanese head last)
(5) Systematicity: the systematicity of the acquisition process in
inferring the phonological, structural, lexical, and semantic system of
Variability: variability in the process of learning; to
determine what is variable maybe systematic
(6) Language and thought: language interacts
simultaneously with thoughts and feelings
(a) Jerome Bruner (1966): words shape concepts
(b) Vygotsky (1962, 1978): social interaction, through language, is a
prerequisite to cognitive development (zone of proximal
development- the distance between a child’s actual cognitive
capacity and the level of potential development)
(c) Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: Language affects thought-> each
language imposes on its speaker a particular world view
(7) Imitation:
(a) surface imitation as a strategy in early language learning as
supported by behaviorism
(b) deep imitation: true value in meaningful semantic level- the deep
structure of language
e.g. children often repeat the correct underlying deep
structure with a change in the surface rendition
(8) Practice: frequency of stimuli (unimportant to Nativists) +
importance of words -> key to language acquisition
(9) Input: adult and peer input to children seen not as important
as the influence of LAD to explain how children acquire
language successfully by nativists but in fact ungrammatical
input is largely ignored and finally transfer correct forms to
(10) Discourse (by social constructivists)
(a) interaction rather than exposure is required for successful language
(b) Sinclair and Culthard (1975): to examine conversations in
terms of initiations and responses; literal meaning is not
necessarily the same as intended meaning
3. mistakes in drawing direct analogies between first and second
language acquisition(Ausubel)
(1) rote learning practice lacks meaningfulness necessary for language
(2) adults learning a foreign language could benefit from learning
grammar deductively
(3) L1 is not just an interfering factor
(4) The written form of the language could be beneficial
(5) Students could be overwhelmed by language spoken at its
natural speed
Part II Second Language Acquisition
1. Age and acquisition
(1) the
Critical Period Hypothesis ( a biological timetable for language
-- Assumption: a biologically determined period of life when language can be
acquired more easily and beyond which time language is increasingly difficult
to acquire
(2) Neurological considerations
(a) hemispheric lateralization
(i) as the human brain matures, certain functions are assigned or
lateralized to one side of hemisphere.
(ii)The left brain: intellectual, logical and analytic; the right brain:
emotional and social
(iii) research question: when lateralization takes place and how it
affects language acquisitio
--- Lenneberg (1967): lateralization begins around age 2 and is
completed around puberty
--- Thomas Scovel (1969):
Learning a L2 as well as L1 should be prior to puberty plasiticity
especially for nativelike (authentic) pronunciation
(iv) Unresolved time of lateralization: five or puberty
(b) biological timetables: support for the acquisition of an authentic accent
on a neurologically basis, not for that of higher order processes or
communicative fluency
(i) a socio-biological critical period by Thomas Scovel (1988)- the
development of a socially bonding accent at puberty, enabling species
---- to form an identify with their own community as they
anticipate roles of parenting and leadership
---- to attract mates of their own kind to maintain their own
(ii) different aspects of a L2 are learned optimally at different
ages by Walsh and Diller (1981)-lower-order processes e.g.
pronunciation depending on early maturing and less adaptive
macroneural circuits
(c) right-hemispheric participation
(i) Obler (1981): the active role of the right brain in SLA or strategies
of acquisition e.g. guessing at meanings, use of formulaic
(ii) Genessee (1982): greater involvement of the right hemisphere in
bilinguals particularly for adult learners
(d) anthropological evidence: against Scovel’s age-related view
(i) some adult learners’ success in language learning
(ii) motivation, affective variables, social factors and the
quality of input also important in explaining advantage of
the child
* the significance of accent:
--- for the critical period: from phonology, much muscular control is
required to be fluent in authentic L2 so children easily achieve it
--- against the critical period: fluency over accuracy in pronunciation;
how people have accomplished beyond phonological factors
(3) Cognitive considerations
(a) intellectual development (Piaget)
(i) three stages: sensorimotor stage (>2);
preoperational stage (2-7); operational stage (7- 16)(concrete
operational stage 7-11; formal operational stage 11-16)
(ii) for the critical period: at puberty, one is capable of
abstraction by Piaget; benefits of deductive thinking for adult
learners by Ausubel
(b) affective, rather than cognitive factors, that facilitate adult
learners’ second language acquisition
(i) adults are aware of their learning and can use strategies to
help themselves to be successful
(ii) dominance of the left hemisphere after puberty contributes
to a tendency to overanalyze and to be too intellectually
centered on SLA
(c) equilibration: cognition develops as a process of moving from
states of doubt and uncertainty to stages of resolution and
certainty; from disequilibrium (which provides motivation for
language learning: language interacts with cognition to achieve
equilibrium) to equilibrium
(d) rote and meaningful learning: learning must be related to existing
knowledge and experience; foreign language classroom should
not become the locus of excessive rote activity
(4) Affective considerations: empathy, self-esteem, extroversion, inhibition,
anxiety, attitudes
(a) egocentricity: esp for children
(b) language ego by Alexander Guiora (1972):
(i) the identify a person develops in reference to the language he
or she speaks
(ii) children’s ego is dynamic and flexible so learning a new
language is not a threat to the ego; adults’ is protective and
(iii) successful learning- one’s language ego must be strong
enough to overcome inhibitions
(c) identity: affective inhibitions of children and adults; a second identity
(d) attitudes: advantage of young children whose attitudes towards races, cultures,
classes of people haven’t been developed
(e) peer pressure: children’s strong constraints upon them to conform; adults tolerate
linguistic differences more than children
(5) Linguistic considerations
(a) Bilingualism
(i) two kinds of bilinguals
--- coordinate bilinguals: two meaning systems learned from
different language contexts
--- compound bilinguals: one meaning system from which both
language operate
(ii) code-switching of most bilinguals: the act of inserting words,
phrases, or even longer stretches of one language into the
other, especially when communicating with another bilingual
(iii) a considerable benefit of early childhood bilingualism:
bilingual children are more facile at concept formation and
have a greater mental flexibility
(b) interference between L1 and L2: usually not in young
(c) interference in adults: not necessarily since adults manifest
errors not unlike some of the errors children make as the result
of creative perception of the second language
(d) order of acquisition:
(i) focus on morphemes by Dulay and Burt
--- methodological arguments, lack of generalizability
(ii) the myth of “the younger, the better” by Scovel: adults can
benefit from literacy, vocabulary, pragmatics, schematic
knowledge, and even syntax plane
2. Human learning
(1) Classical Behaviorism by Pavlov: respondent conditioning that is
concerned with respondent behavior that is elicited by a preceding
(2) Operant Conditioning by Skinner: operant behavior is one in which one
operates on the environment; a concern about the consequences that
follow the response
(3) Meaningful Learning Theory by Ausubel: learning takes place in a
meaningful process of relating new events or items to already existing
cognitive concepts
(i) any learning situation can be meaningful if: learners have a
meaningful learning set and the learning task itself is potentially
meaningful to the learners
(ii) a meaningfully learned, subsumed item has greater potential for
(iii) forgetting is a second stage of subsumption for
--- an economical reason through cognitive pruning where a
single inclusive concept than a large number of more
specific items is retained
--- language attribution: the strength and conditions of initial
learning; motivation; use of a L2
(iv) strengths of subsumption theory: the disadvantage of rote
memory in language learning; systematic forgetting; shift of
goal to communicative competence
(4) Humanistic Psychology by Rogers: constructivism by highlighting the
social and interactive nature of learning in the affective domain
(i) the whole person as a physical, cognitive, and emotional being
(ii) learning how to learn
(iii) teachers as facilitators of learning through the establishment of
interpersonal relationships with learners and genuine trust and
(iv) a climate of nondefensive learning
(v) empowerment of students, not banking
1.classical: (Pavlov)
respondent conditioning
elicited response S->R
1.operant: (Skinner)
governed by consequences
emitted response
R-> S (reward)
No punishment
Programmed instruction
subsumption of
new items under a
more inclusive
conceptual system
association and
cognitive pruning
learn how to
community of
3.Transfer, interference, and overgeneralization
(6) A more correct explication: The interaction of previously learned
material with a present learning event
(7) Transfer: positive transfer and negative transfer (interference,
usually L1-> L2, & overgeneralization L1-> L1 or L2 -> L2)
(8) All generalizing involves transfer and all transfer involves
4.Inductive and deductive reasoning
(1) Inductive reasoning: one stores a number of specific instances and
induces a general rule or conclusion that governs the specific instances
(e.g. classroom learning)
(2) Deductive reasoning: a movement from a generalization to specific
(3) Gestalt learning: perception of the whole before the parts
5. Schema Theory (By Bartlett, 1932 )
(1) To explain how the language that we have about the world is organized
into interrelated patterns based on our previous knowledge and
experience. These “schemata” also allow us to predict what may happen
in future context.
(2) Efficient readers can relate texts to their background knowledge of the
(3) The process of interpretation is guided by the principle that every input is
mapped against one existing schema and that all aspects of that schema
must be compatible with the input information. This principle results in
two modes of information processing, called bottom-up and top-town.
(4) Both processing should be occurring at all levels simultaneously.
(5)bottom-up processing:
(i) It is evoked by the incoming data, the features of the data enter the
system through the best fitting, bottom-level schemata. Schemata are
hierarchically organized, from most general at the top to most specific at
the bottom. When these bottom-level schemata converge into higher
level, more general schemata, these too become activated. Bottom-up
processing is thus data-driven.
(ii) The data that are needed to instantiate or fill out
make schemata become available through bottom-up
(iii) This processing ensures that listeners or readers will be
sensitive to information that is novel or that doesn’t fit their
ongoing hypotheses about the content or structure of the text.
(6) top-down processing
(i) It occurs as the system makes general predictions based on
higher level, general schemata and then searches the input for
information to fit into these partially satisfies, higher order
schemata. It is conceptually driven.
(ii) It facilitates the data’s assimilation if they are anticipated by
or consistent with the listeners or readers’ conceptual
(iii) It helps learners resolve ambiguities or select between
alternative possible interpretations of the incoming data.
6. Styles and strategies
(1)Learning styles
(a)field independence/field dependence styles:
Personal traits
Age difference
the ability to
perceive a
relevant item or
factor in a field
of distracting
a more
analytical, more
competitive, and
attention to
mastering of
drills in
learning, better
in deductive
Use more
monitoring or
strategies for
cious attention
to forms)
field dependence The tendency to
be dependent on
the total field so
that the parts
within the field
are not easily
More socialized,
empathic, and
perceptive of the
feelings and
thoughts of
Natural, face to
the kind of
rare in the
Children: use
strategies of
attention to
* significance
1. FI and FD are not in complementary
distribution within an individual
2. Both styles are important
3. to assume a person’s general inclinations in a
given context with an appropriate style
(b) left- and right-brain functioning
Left-brain dominance
Right-brain dominance
Remember names
Remember faces
Deductive-> analytical
Logical-> logical problem solving
Visual, auditory, emotional->
intuitive problem solving
Linear processing
Elusive, uncertain information
FI->intellectual, planned and
FD-> intuitive, fluid, spontaneous
Prefers talking and writing-> less
body language
Prefers drawing and manipulating
-> more body language
Make objective judgments
->multiple-choice tests
Make subjective judgments->
open-ended questions
(c) ambiguity tolerance: to predict academic success
(i) definition: how much one tolerates ideas and
propositions opposing to one’s belief system
(ii) with ambiguity tolerance-> free to entertain innovative and
creative possibilities and not be disturbed by uncertainty
(iii) too much ambiguity tolerance-> prevent meaningful
subsumption of ideas due to wishy-washy tendency
(iv) no ambiguity tolerance->rigid, dogmatic mind
(d) reflectivity and impulsivity
Systematic styles
A slower, more calculated decision
Accurate reader
Inductive reasoning
Intuitive styles
A quick, hunch-based decision
Fast reader
Willing to guess
•More patience for a reflective learner,
fewer judgments on mistakes made by an impulsive learner.
(e) visual and auditory styles
Prefer reading, studying
charts, drawing, and other
graphic information e.g.
Korean students
Prefer listening to lectures
and audiotapes
* Successful learners utilize both visual and auditory input
(2) Strategies (refer to Oxford’s strategy classification system, 1990)
(a) Learning strategies: to take in messages (input) from
(i) good language learners by Rubin and Stern (1975) in
terms of personal characteristics, styles, and strategies
(ii) strategies by Michael O’Malley (1983)
In specific learning
tasks for more direct
manipulation of the
learning material
itself e.g. repetition,
translation, note
activity and
interacting with
others e.g.
cooperation, question
for clarification
An executive
function involving
planning for learning,
thinking about the
learning process,
monitoring of one’s
production or
comprehension, and
evaluating learning
after an activity
(iii) indirect learning strategies: metacognitive, affective and
social; direct learning strategies- memory, cognitive and
* usefulness of adopting learning strategies in language
-> strategies-based instruction (SBI) (about how to
learn) and autonomous self-help training
1. be aware of one’s style, preferences and the
2. practice successful strategies
3. practice compensatory strategies
4. strategy instruction in the textbook
(b) Communication strategies: how one expresses
meanings; deliver messages to others especially when
communication is deterred from reaching its goal
(i) avoidance strategies: message abandonment,
topic avoidance, lexical, syntactic, and
phonological avoidance
(ii) compensatory strategies (part of strategic
competence)circumlocution , approximation, use
of all-purpose words, word coinage, prefabricated
patterns, nonlinguistic signals, literal translation,
foreignizing, code-switching appeal for help,
stalling/time-gaining strategies
7. Personality factors
(1) the affective domain
(a) self-esteem: a personal judgment of worthiness that’s
expressed in the attitudes that individuals hold towards
themselves; related to one’s willingness to communicate in a
foreign languag
(i) general or global self-esteem
- a median level of overall self-appraisal
-stable in a mature adult so resistant to change over time
and across situations
(ii) situational or specific self-esteem
- one’s self-appraisals in particular life situations e.g. home,
work, athletic ability, and personality traits
(iii) task self-esteem
- particular tasks within specific situation e.g. one subject
matter area in the educational domain
(b) Inhibition: sets of defenses to protect the ego
(i) language ego by Guiora (1972) and Ehrman (1996): occurs when
identity conflict as language learners take on a new identity with
their newly acquired competence
(ii) higher self-esteem + adaptive language ego-> lower inhibition
(c) risk-taking: ability to make intelligent guesses; impulsivity
(i) Being willing to take risks doesn’t necessarily contributes to
success since not necessarily accurate guesses
(ii) Willing and accurate guesses, high motivation and self-esteem
are also factors of learner success
(iii) Lack of willingness to take risks-> fossilization
(d) Anxiety
(i) trait anxiety (permanent predisposition to be
anxious)/ state anxiety (situationally anxious)->
language anxiety
(ii) debilitative(harmful anxiety)/
facilitative anxiety (helpful anxiety e.g. concern
over a task to be accomplished->
(iii) three components of language anxiety:
1. communication apprehension
2. fear of negative social evaluation
3. test anxiety
(e) Empathy: the process of putting oneself into
some else’s shoes usually through language
(i) transactional variables to SLA: imitation, modeling,
identification, empathy, extroversion, aggression,
styles of communication
(ii) “empathy” is more detachment from others;
“sympathy” is an agreement between individuals.
(iii) two aspects to the development and exercising of
1. an awareness and knowledge of one’s feelings
2. identification with another person (to know
oneself first)
(f) Extroversion: the extent to which a person has a deepseated need to receive ego enhancement, self-esteem,
and a sense of wholeness from others
(i) introversion: the extent to which a person derives a
sense of wholeness and fulfillment apart from a
reflection of this self from other people
(ii) introverted≠ passive; extroverted≠bright and
(iii) extroversion as a factor in developing oral
communicative competence
(2) motivation:
(a) three views of motivation:
Anticipation of
Desire to receive
individual forces
in control
Driven by basic
human needs
Degree of effort
individual forces
in control
Social context
Social status
Security of group
interactive forces
in control
(b) instrumental/integrative orientations (Robert Gardner
& MacIntyre, 1991): converted from instrumental and
integrative motivations
(i) Instrumental orientation (usually from extrinsic
motivation): acquiring a language as a means for
attaining instrumental goals; academic or careerrelated
(ii) Integrative orientations (from intrinsic
motivation) (weaker than assimilative
orientation by Graham, 1984): learners wish to
integrate themselves into the culture of the second
language group; socially or culturally oriented
(iii) Implications: no single means of learning a L2;
the two orientations are not necessarily mutually
(c) intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
intrinsic motivation
extrinsic motivation
to bring out feelings of
competence and selfdetermination
strongly favored for longterm retention or selfrealization
maybe turn out to be
anticipation of a reward
from outside
for short-term retention
maybe instrumental
8. Sociocultural factors
(1) stereotypes/ overgeneralizations:
(a) Reality is perceived through one’s cultural pattern?
- too oversimplified
(b) Our cultural milieu shapes our world view (how do stereotypes
(c) Stereotype-thinking towards a culture and people in it can be
accurate in depicting the typical member of a culture but not
for particular individuals so cultural differences need to be
(2) Attitudes: implied by stereotyping toward the culture or language;
developed in early childhood and be the result of parents’ and peers’
(a) group-specific attitude-> an integrative orientation
(b) positive attitudes-> enhance proficiency
(c) negative attitudes-> positive by direct exposure to reality
(3) second culture acquisition
(a) culture learning: a process of perceiving, interpreting, feeling, and
being in the world; to create shared meaning between cultural
(b) acculturation: the process learners adapt to the target language culture
and acquire the L2 usually during the recovery stage
the tourist stage
the empty stage (culture shock)
the recovery stage (culture stress)
the acceptance stage
(c) culture shock:
1. phenomena ranging from mild irritability to deep
psychological panic and crisis
2. a profound cross-cultural learning experience which takes place
when one examines the degree to which one’s influenced by his
own culture and understands the culturally derived values,
attitudes, and outlooks of other people
(4) social distance
(a) definition: the cognitive and affective proximity of two
cultures that come into contact within an individual
which is difficult to measure
(b) parameters of social distance by John Schumann
(i) dominance: TL/L2 politically, culturally,
technically, economically dominant, non-dominant
or subordinate
(ii) integration: L2 is assimilation, acculturation or
(iii) cohesiveness: cohesive, size of L2
(iv) congruence: congruent value and belief systems in
(v) permanence: L2’s intended length of residence in
the TL area
(c) a good language learning situation:
(i) the L2 group is non-dominant in relation to the TL group;
(ii) both groups desire assimilation for the L2 group;
(iii) low enclosure is the goal of both groups
(iv) the two cultures are congruent
(v) the L2 group is small and non-cohesive
(vi) both groups have positive attitudes towards each other
(vii) the L2 group intends to remain in the target language area for a
long time
(d) measurement of perceived social distance (W. Acton, 1979) by
quantifying the different attitudes towards various concepts
(e) implication: mastery of fluency in L2 occurs at the beginning
of the recovery stage of acculturation
(f) the optimal distance model by Brown (1980) for adults
especially: a culturally based critical-period hypothesis
1. an adult who fails to master a L2 might have failed to
synchronize linguistic and cultural development
2. In Stage 3 to Stage 4, those who have achieved nonlinguistic
means of coping in a foreign culture-> fossilization
(g) culture in the classroom: four conceptual categories to study
the cultural norms
(i) individualism (loosely integrated)/collectivism (tightly
(ii) power distance- the extent to which the less power persons
accept inequality in power and consider it normal
(iii) uncertainty avoidance- strong uncertainty avoidance-> active,
aggressive, emotional, compulsive, security-seeking and
(iv) masculinity- masculine cultures stress material success and
(5) language policy and politics
(a) world Englishes
(b) ESL/ EFL
(c) Linguistic imperialism and language rights
(d) Language policy and the English only debate
(6) Language, thought, and culture: the Sapir-Whorf
(a) euphemisms/verbal labels can shape the way one stores
events for later recall
(b) the way a sentence is structured will affect nuances of meaning
e.g. Did you see the broken headlight?- There is one.
Did you see a broken headlight?
(c) conversational discourse signals, a factor of culture- casual/formal
(d) lexical items –intersection of culture and cognition e.g. color
(e) question: Does language reflect a cultural world view or does
language actually shape the world view?
(f) – Alternative labels of the Spair-Whorf Hypothesis
The Whorfian Hypothesis, linguistic relativity or
linguistic determinism
(g) Criticism:
-It’s possible to talk about anything in any
but some concepts are easy to express
-Through both languages and cultures, some
universals are found
- A L2 learner can make positive use of prior
experiences to facilitate the process of learning
10. Cross-linguistic influence and learner language
(1) the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (by applied linguists)
(a) influenced by behaviorism/structuralism in the 1950s
(b) claim: the principal barrier to SLA is the interference of the
L1 system with the L2 system so the differences of L1 and
L2 should be overcome
(c) “Linguistics across cultures” by Robert Lado (1957): the patterns
that will cause difficulty in learning can be predicted and
described by comparing systematically the target language and
the L1; Similar in L1 and L2-> simple; different -> difficult
(d) Hierarchy of difficulty in terms of phonology, syntax, etc for
prediction by Stockwell, Bowen & Martin 1965
(i) Shortcomings of CAH:
(i) CAH is inadequate to predict the interference problems of a
(ii) Great difference doesn’t necessarily cause great difficulty->
intralingual/interlingual errors
(iii) It is difficult to determine exactly which category a particular
contrast fit into
(2) Markedness and UG: to better explain learning difficulty than
(a) Markedness theory by Fred Eckman (1977)
(i) Marked items in a language will be more difficult to
acquire than unmarked
(ii) Degrees of markedness will correspond to degrees of
(iii) Marked structures are acquired later than unmarked
(b) UG= rules shared by all languages
(i) to discover innate linguistic principles that govern what
is possible in human languages
(ii) to understand and describe contrasts of L1 and L2 and
difficulties of learners
(3) Learner Language (Interlanguage by Selinker, 1972)
(l) IL: a system that has a structurally intermediate status
between L1 and L2; It is neither L1 nor L2
(m) Approximative system byNemser (1971)
(n) Idiosyncratic dialect by Corder (1971)
(o) Study learner language from production data which
are observable and reflective of a learner’s
underlying competence
(p) To analyze Interlanguage, errors of learners have to be
studied because correct production yields little
information about competence
(4) Error Analysis: (performance/ interlanguage analysis)
--- errors provide the evidence of how language is learned, and
what procedures or strategies the learner is employing in the
discovery of language
--- examination of errors from all possible sources, not just from L1
interference (like CA) e.g. intralingual, sociolinguisitc,
psycholinguistic, cognitive or affective sources
(q) mistakes and errors
a performance error either
a random guess or a slip
due to a failure to utilize a
known system correctly
a noticeable deviation
reflects the lack of the
linguistic competence
Can be self-corrected by
native speakers when
attention is called
Cannot be self-corrected
(r) identifying and describing errors
(i) norms & errors
(ii) how to distinguish errors and mistakes?
(iii) Describing errors by
--- grammatical categories
--- general error type: omission (e.g I went to movie.),
misinformation, misordering (e.g. I to the store went),
addition (e.g. Does can he sing?), substitution (e.g. I
lost my road.)
--- overt (ungrammatical at the sentence level)/covert
errors (grammatically well-formed but not discourse
interpretable within the context of communication)
--- global (hinder communication)/local (at verbatim level)
---domain/extent by Lennon, 1991 e.g. a scissors (domainphrase, extent- an indefinite article)
(iv) explaining errors:
--- systematic, universal, predictable? By repeated systematic
observation of learner speech
--- Sources:
1. interlingual transfer: especially in the beginning stages of
SLA e.g He goed.
2. intralingual transfer: overgeneralization when
learners have begun to acquire parts of the new system
3. context of learning: classroom or social situation
faulty concepts from teachers/induced errors/bookish
4. communicative strategies: circumlocution, word
coinage, false cognates (by Tarone, 1981), or
prefabricated patterns
(s) criticism:
(i) positive reinforcement of clear and free communication is also
important (fluency).
(ii) Overemphasis on production data; comprehension is also
(iii) It fails to explain avoidance
(iv) It too closely focuses on specific language rather than
universal aspects of language
(5 ) Stages of learner language development:
all are not able to measure overall competence because
one can be in different stages of different tenses
(i) Random (presystematic): to guess or experiment e.g. John can to
(ii) Emergent: one begins to discern a system but then regresses to
some previous stage; unable to correct; avoidance of structures and
(iii) Systematic: more consistent and able to correct errors when pointed
(iv) Stabilization (post-systematic): few errors, able to self-correct
(6) Variability: due to context as the source of variation
(a) capability continuum paradigm by Elaine Tarone (1988):
the extent to which both linguistic and situational context may
help to describe variation
(b) variable competence model by Rod Ellis (1994)
(c) criticism: variable -> systematic
(7) Fossilization:
(a) definition: the relatively permanent incorporation of incorrect
linguistic forms into a person’s L2 competence
(b) How do items become fossilized?
(i) affective feedback
(ii) cognitive feedback
(c) Why does fossilization occur?
(i) the presence or absence of internal motivating
(ii) seeking interaction with other people
(iii) consciously focusing on forms
(iv) one’s strategic investment in the learning
(8) Form-focused instruction:
(a) Does form-focused instruction work?
Yes, but it depends on the target structure being taught e.g plurals
(i) item learning (effective in instruction)/system learning
(ii) the Teachability Hypothesis by Penemann: Instruction can only
promote language acquisition if the interlanguage is close to the
point when the structure to be taught is acquired in the natural
setting; instruction only helps to speed up learners’ learning process
(iii) some structures seem to be permanently affected by instruction
1. system learning can last longer
2. it depends on the nature of the instruction
3. when learners use the structure frequently
(iv) what structures to teach?
Marked functions first to trigger the unmarked ones
(b) What kind of form-focused instruction works best?
(i) input-based instruction may be more effective than
production-based instruction
(ii) consciousness-raising by providing learners positive or
negative evidence; but positive input may help learners start
using some difficult forms but may not be sufficient to
destabilize IL and prevent fossilization
(c) individual differences are likely to influence the effects of
(9) Error treatment
(a) when to treat errors:
the importance of errors, chance of eliciting correct
(b) what to correct:
global errors to be treated only but some utterances
are not clearly global or local
(c) How to correct:
One useful taxonomy by Bailey, 1985
(d) Learners’ system is a variable, dynamic, and approximate
system, but shouldn’t be treated as an imperfect system.
11. Communicative competence
(1) Definition
(a) Dell Hymes: highlights the difference between linguistic competence
and communicative competence
(b) Savignon: Communicative competence is relative and depends on the
cooperation of all the participants involved, a dynamic and interpersonal
construct that can be examined by means of the over performance of
two or more individuals.
(c) Cummins
(i) cognitive/academic language proficiency (context-reduced->
(ii) basic interpersonal communicative skills- the capacity all
children acquire to be able to function in daily
communication (context-embedded-> face to face
(d)Canale & Swain
(i) Grammatical competence: knowledge of lexical items,
morphology, syntax….
(ii) Discourse competence-ability to connect sentences to form a
meaningful whole
(iii) Sociolinguistic competence-knowledge of sociocultural rules e.g
roles, shared information…
(iv) Strategic competence: the verbal or non-verbal communicative
strategies to compensate for breakdown
(e) Bachman (1990)
(i) organizational competence- grammatical and textual competence
(cohesion and rhetorical organization)
(ii) pragmatic competence- illocutionary (ideational, manipulative,
heuristic, imaginative) and sociolinguistic (sensitivity to dialect,
registers, naturalness, figures of speech)competence
(f) M. Halliday: language functions
(i) Instrumental: to manipulate the environment
(ii)Regulatory: the control of events e.g. approval
(iii)Representational: to make statements, convey facts,
explain, report
(iv) Interactional: ensure social maintenance
(v) Personal: express feelings, emotions, and
(vi) Heuristic: to acquire language, to learn about the
(vii) Imaginative: create imaginary systems or ideas
(2) functional syllabuses: (notional-functional syllabus)
(a) curricula are organized around functions like identifying,
eporting, denying, declining, invitation, asking permission,
apologizing, etc
* notion- abstract concepts, contexts or situations e.g. health,
travel, education, or shopping
(b) controversy: a function is covered, which doesn’t mean
learners have internalized it for authentic use in the real
(3) discourse analysis:
(a) the analysis of the relationship between forms and functions of
(b) text attach skills to solve ambiguity: cohesive devices, discourse
makers, rhetorical organization
(4) Conversation Analysis:
(a) how to get attention, initiate a conversation, nominate a topic,
develop a topic (turn-taking), and terminate a topic
(b) Grice’s Maxims (1967)
(i) Quantity: say only as much as necessary for understanding the
(ii) Quality: say only what is true
(iii) Relevance: say only what is relevant
(iv) Manner: be clear
(5) Pragmatics
(a) how meaning is conveyed and interpreted
(b) illocutionary force (intended meaning of an utterance)
(c) cooperative principles
(6) language and gender
(a) girls- more standard language, more uncertainty, rapport,
connection, positive feedback, face needs
(b) boys-more interruptions, less polite, more value on status,
compete for the floor
(7) styles and registers
(a) formal or informal styles
(i) Speech styles by formality by Martin Joos (1967)
Oratorical (public speaking)->deliberative (classroom
lecture)-> consultative (business transactions)-> casual
(friends, colleagues)- > intimate (loved ones)
(ii) verbal and nonverbal feature in styles
(iii) syntax: contractions or deletions in intimate and casual
(iv) lexicon: from intimate to frozen (on the ball, smart,
intelligent, perceptive, and astute)
(v) pronunciation: hesitation, misarticulations
(b) registers
(i) to identify with a particular group and maintain solidarity
(8) Nonverbal communication:
(a) Kinesics: body language
(b) eye contact: signal interest, boredom, empathy, hostility,
(c) proxemics: physical proximity
(d) artifacts: clothing or ornamentation (sense of selfesteem, socioeconomic class, general character)
(e) kinethetics: touching
(f) olfactory dimensions: smell
Research findings on SLA
(a) Adults and adolescents can acquire a L2
(b) The learners creates a systematic IL with the same systematic
errors as the child learning the L1
(c) There are predictable sequences in acquisition
(d) Practice doesn’t make perfect
(e) Knowing a linguistic rule doesn’t mean knowing how to use it
(f) Isolated explicit error correction is usually ineffective
(g) More adult learners fossilize
(h) One cannot achieve nativelike command of a L2
in one hour a day
(i) The learners’ task is enormous since language is complex
A meaningful context is paramount.
(3) Criteria for a viable theory
(a) chaos/complexity theory by Diane LarsenFreeman (1997) the number and
complexity of the variables involved make
SLA exceedingly difficult to predict
(b) the least a theory of SLA needs to explain by
Michael Long (1990): to account for universals,
environmental factors, variability in age,
acquisition rate, and proficiency level, cognitive
and affective factors, form-focused learning, etc.
(4) an Innatist Model: Krashen’s Input Hypothesis (See
Handout A p.25-26)
(5) Cognitive models
(a) Attention-Processing Models (McLauglin)
(i) controlled processing mechanisms: capacity limited and
(ii) automatic processing mechanisms: relatively permanent
(iii) an ultimate communicative goal for language learners:
peripheral, automatic attention-processing of language
(b) Implicit and explicit models (Bialystok)
(iv) Implicit linguistic knowledge: information automatically or
spontaneously used e.g. child’s language
(v) Explicit linguistic knowledge: linguistic knowledge
(6) a Social-Constructivist Model
(a) Long’s Interaction Hypothesis
(vi) the interactional modifications resulting from the
negotiation of meaning facilitate acquisition.
(vii) Comprehensible input is the result, not the cause of
modified interaction.
(b) Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development:
(viii) Definition: the distance between a child’s actual
cognitive capacity and the level of potential
(ix) Principles of awareness, autonomy and authenticity
lead the learner to Zone of proximal development
where learners construct the new language through
socially mediated interaction
Innatist (Krashen)
Constructivist (Long,
(McLaughlin/Bialystok) Swain & Seliger)
superior to learning
and monitoring
Low affective filter
Natural order of
Zero option for
processing (M)
attention (M)
Restructuring (M)
Implicit/explicit (B)
knowledge (B)
Interaction hypothesis
Intake through social
Output hypothesis
High Input Generators

The recent history of second language learning research