What is SLA (second language acquisition)?
new
SLA is a new branch (1970s).
acquired vs. learned
Most second language is achieved by learning.
SLA & LAD
LAD (language acquisition device) 
exposure ( an L2 environment) 
acquisition (acquire the second language)
SLA (second language acquisition)
It refers to any language acquired not as a mother tongue.
e.g. Taiwanese students
L1: Southern Min /Hakka /one of the Formosa
languages
L2: Mandarin (most literature on English learning in
Taiwan refers to English as a second language)
L3: English
SLA ≈ LA (the early stage)
At the early stage, the main methods of SLA essentially
follow those on L1 studies: observations & experiments.
new term: interlanguage (Selinker, 1972)
focus:
SLA model ( L1 )
interlanguage
( L2 )
main issues:
(a) internal device
(b) input, process & output
(c) individual difference in cognition
(d) personalities
(e) the difference between L1 & L2 acquisition
(f) teaching environments & pedagogical theories
1. universal grammar and SLA
2. the role of mother tone
3. input and output
4. individual difference
5. personalities and strategies
6. a comparison between L1 and L2 acquisition
7. types of teaching
8. teaching approaches
9. summary
SLA lies in the LAD & UG in the brain.
1.1 Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
1.2 Universal Grammar (UG)
1.3 LA (L1) &SLA (L2)
1.1 LAD (Language Acquisition Device)
LAD
innate in the brain like other biological organs
grow  get matured  fade away
UG in the LAD
LAD & LA / SLA
LAD (language acquisition device) 
exposure ( an L1 / L2 environment) 
acquisition (acquire the language)
1.2 Universal Grammar (UG)
There is Universal Grammar composed of
universal principles & parameter settings
in LAD.
(1) universal principles
the grammar unit of internal structure
(2) parameter settings
different parameter settings 
different grammatical configurations
(1) universal principles
the grammar unit of internal structure
English: NP (noun phrase) + VP (verb phrase)
Japanese: NP (noun phrase) + VP (verb phrase)
(2) parameter setting basis
Different parameter settings give rise to different tree
configurations.
different parameter settings  different tree configurations
English: an SVO (subject + verb + object) language
Japanese: an SOV (subject + object + verb) language
1. 3 LA (L1) & SLA (L2)
L1: need not to learn (no grammar)
UG  fluently (V)
the universal grammar would help generate all the
possible grammatical structure of that language in
accordance with the parameter setting
L2: need to learn (L1 grammar)
L1 grammar  fluently (X)  accent
most SLA learners fail to speak the target language
fluently
foreign accents: transfer of the first language
SLA studies
If two grammars (L1 & L2) are put in a language
acquisition device (LAD), what would happen?
Three theories in SLA
Learners got a grammar of mother tongue
interference of L1 grammar
2.1 Contrastive Analysis (CA)
2.2 Marked Differential Hypothesis (MDH)
2.3 Speech Learning Model (SLM)
2.1 Contrastive Analysis (CA)
compare L1 & L2
It emphasizes the importance in comparing the first
language (L1) with the second language (L2) and the
knowledge of which structure appears in the target
language but absent from the mother tongue.
language
L1
structure
X
SLA: difficult to acquire
L2
V
core idea
A structure present in the target language (L2) but
absent from the first language (L1) will be difficult
for SLA learners.
a support in phonetic contrast :[ ,
v]
languages
consonants
[ , ,
,t ,
r, v]
CAH
prediction
,d ,
,
,t ,
Chinese
(L1)
English
(L2)
X
V
,d , r,
these consonants are
problematic for learners
CAH prediction: Chinese students acquire English
consonants [ , , , t , ,d , r, v] with more
difficulties.
a support in phonology
diphthong formation of five vowels [ ,
, a,
,
]
AC (Assimilatory Constraint)
Only vowels sharing with the same backness can
constitute a diphthong.
DC (Dissimilatory Constraint )
Vowels sharing the same backness are prohibited
from forming a diphthong.
language
Mandarin
Southern Min
constraint assimilation dissimilation
prediction (V) easy
(X) difficult
English
assimilation
(V)
Mandarin diphthongs
The four Mandarin diphthongs are either [+ back] or [- back].
Southern Min diphthong
Vowels with different value in backness are allowed
for a Southern Min diphthong, which is different from
the constraint of Mandarin diphthong structure.
CAH prediction
Southern Min speakers vs. English 
a problem with diphthongs [ou] & [ei] (violate the DC) 
a deletion (deleting the less sonorant vowel)
Southern Min speakers vs. boat [bout] & bought [b t]
(X)
Can CAH explain all errors or difficulties? (X)
e.g. *He teaches students must be patient.
(by a Taiwanese student, a direct translation
from Chinese: 他教學生必須有耐心)
In structure:
a. He who teaches students must be patient.
b. He teaches students to be patient.
Error Analysis (EA)
Corder (1964)
Corder proposed that we had to collect and examine
student’s errors before CA was applied to account for
the possible errors.
CA predictions (V & X)
CA cannot always make correct predictions
The tenet of EA
It is to collect and sort out the error data that SLA
students have made in the production of the target
language.
EA & CA
EA (to collect & examine the errors) 
CA (to account for the possible errors)
the procedure
The procedure of error data collection
(1) finding out the errors
(2) pointing out why such errors emerge
(3) sorting out the error data
(4) trying to explain what causes errors to happen
(5) evaluating the impact on SLA
EA (V) Errors are of patterns (the DC).
e.g. Taiwanese students’ difficulties:
diphthongs [ou] (boat), [ei] (day), [ie] (yes)
contribution:
preventing students from fossilizing the errors
EA (X) Errors can hardly be sorted.
e.g. (X) *John taked Mary to the park yesterday.
the error: taked
the short knowledge of past tense (?)
the spelling of take suffixed with -ed (?)
CA & EA (two sides of a coin)
From the perspective of speech production (V)
have contributions in SLA (V)
always make correct predictions (V & X)
e.g. the consonants [ , , , t , ,d , r, v]
(X, absent from Chinese inventories)
In CA, they are treated equally difficult,
but which one is the most difficult to acquire?
In EA, how many errors can constitute a pattern?
How can teachers help prevent errors from
happening in the class?
To what extent can an error be?
2.2 Markedness Differential Hypothesis (MDH)
Any component of a grammar can be divided into
two types: marked & unmarked.
(1) marked:
It refers to those sounds or syntactic structures
appearing in fewer languages.
(2) unmarked:
It is the part shared with most languages.
marked
unmarked
appear in fewer languages
rare ones
shared with most languages common ones
MDH rule:
Between A and B, A is marked if A occurs then B occurs,
while not vice versa.
a linguistic data: [b, d, g] & [p, t, k]
stops
language
[b, d, g]
marked
[p, t, k]
unmarked
English
[b, d, g]
(bate, date, gate)
[p, t, k]
(spy, stick, sky)
Mandarin
X
[p, t, k]
(pai ‘to beat’,
tai ‘to lead’, kai ‘to cover’)
MDH tenet:
the unmarked components can be acquired with ease
the marked components are acquired with difficulty
components
SLA
marked
(rare )
difficult
unmarked
(common)
easy
[ ]: this consonant is highly marked
(it does not appear in most languages)
MDH: [ ] > [ , , , t , d , r, v]
([ ] is the most difficult one)
CAH: [ , , , t , ,d , r, v]
(equally difficult)
[ ]: the lax front vowel [ ] of English is also marked.
(It is not one of the Cardinal vowels.
It is not phonemic in most languages.)
MDH: For English learners in Taiwan,
[ ] is usually substituted with [e],
resulting in the confusion between [ ] & [e]
(get vs. gate).
(unmarked ones  easy to be acquired)
(the more marked  the more difficult to be acquired)
2.3 Speech Learning Model (SLM)
perspective
perception: SLM
production: CA & EA
2 types
(1) new sounds (X in L1)
entirely absent from the inventories of the mother
tongue (those ones absent from L1)
(2) old sounds (= or ≈ in L1)
identical with or similar to the sounds of the mother
tongue (those ones similar or identical with L1)
a new sound:
unfamiliar 
judged new 
put in a new category
an old sound:
familiar 
pass the L1 filter
(equivalence classification) 
categorized into one of the mother tongue inventories
The Primary Idea of SLM
The new sounds are difficult to acquire at first but can
mastered at last, on the contrary, the old sounds,
especially similar ones, are easy to be acquired at first
but difficult to be mastered at last (Chung, 2006).
sounds
new
old
in the beginning
X
V
at last
V
X
new: difficult to be acquired in the beginning,
but can be learned eventually
old: easy to be acquired in the beginning,
but difficult to be mastered eventually
Predictions:
learning difficulties of CAH, MDH & SLM
theory
acquisition
difficult to be acquired
easy to be acquired
CAH
MDH
SLM
new
marked
old
sounds
sounds
sounds
old
unmarked
new
sounds
sounds
sounds
, , ,
, ,
, ,
three predictions of a study on Taiwanese students’
acquisition of English fricatives & affricatives
CAH: All the sounds of
, , ,
, ,
, ,
are
equally difficult because they are absent from
Mandarin.
MDH:
is the most difficult, because it is marked.
SLM:
, ,
can be mastered, while
,
,
,
cannot, because
,
,
,
are similar
(old)
The Findings
(1) most students are able to produce
, , ,
well to
such an extent that there is no significant difference
between Taiwanese students and American natives
(2) there is no significant difference between junior and
senior high school students in terms of English
fricative and affricate production
The findings fall in the prediction of SLM.
SLA processing works in the model of
( Input )
interlanguage
( Output)
3.1 Input Hypothesis
3.2 Output Hypothesis
3.3 Interaction Hypothesis
3.1 Input Hypothesis
Interlanguage (autonomous, independent)
(1) A language system which is neither the first language
nor of the second (target) language, but might share the
specific properties of the first and the second language
(the target language is not entirely captured or acquired).
L1 ≠ interlanguage ≠ L2
(2) a stage children’s language is not clear enough to be
comprehensible
children’s language  ???
(3) an analogy
L1 (orange juice) + L2 (grape juice) = ?
Input Hypothesis
(1) mother tongue & input
Any LA is in need of input.
Children acquire L1, mother tongue works as input.
Parents usually provide children with simplified input.
(2) one single manner for SLA
The input should be comprehensible to the learners.
incomprehensible input = unintelligible input  helpless
(3) i + 1 (Krashen): SLA works
i : the starting point of comprehensible input
+ 1: every class helps improve a little bit
(i)  (+ 1): be comprehensible to learners
3.2 Output Hypothesis
(1) background
LA works in two ways: inputs & outputs.
an input (comprehensible) ≠ an output (comprehensible)
(2) the process
The act of producing language (speaking or writing)
constitutes, under certain circumstances, part of the
process of second language.
(3) the output (speak out)
The output is one of the important factors for a
successful SLA.
open the mouth & speak it out  SLA (V)
3.3 Interaction Hypothesis
(1) Input + output
Both input & output interact with each other in the
whole process of SLA.
(2) Negotiation (achieve the goal of i+1 )
comprehensible input (not necessarily)
one may get the information by negotiation / discussion
repetition + confirmation + clarification 
a successful negotiation
(3) input + output + input-output
Each of inputs, output, and input-output interaction
plays a certain role in SLA.
Individual difference plays a role in SLA.
In terms of personality individuals are of
two types:
(1) Field Independence
(2) Field Dependence
4.1 Field Independence
(1) characteristics
sensible & calm
good at logical reasoning
pictures / reading materials  smaller components
reading: fully devoted, ignoring what happens around
(2) acquiring a second language (as mathematics)
realize sentences can be constructed on the basic
constituents vocabulary, categories & syntactic
structure in no time.
(3) In different environments
in traditional teaching & learning environment (V)
good at grammar analysis & sentence structure
in communicative approach environment (V)
never discouraged
happy with different activities in teaching
devote themselves to the comprehension of the
contexts
4.2 Field Dependence
(1) characteristics (opposite to field independence)
inclined to be distracted by activities around
good at fast reading
able to capture what is revealed in the text
emphasize comprehension
focus on the whole meaning of sentences / passage
(2) acquiring a second language
It seems that students of field independence are
superior to those of field dependence in almost
every respect save in SLA.
(3) in different learning environments
field of independence (V) & field of dependence (V)
In the SLA literature, both types have their own merits.
proper environments
Students of either type should be provided with proper
teaching or learning environments.
all learners  SLA (V)
All the students are potentially able to acquire a good
second language.
Language acquisition is subject to individual
differences. There are other personalities, each
of which has much to do with SLA.
5.1 Personalities
5.2 Learning Strategies
5.1 Personalities
unique
Personalities are just like faces, every
individual is unique.
4 categories
in SLA studies, four have been categorized:
(1) aptitude
(2) attitude
(3) motivation
(4) empathy
(1) aptitude (age, talents & out-spoken)
age
the earlier of exposure, the better
talent
some are inclined for languages, some mathematics
being out-spoken
(V) energetic & open-minded 
like to practice speaking /
inclined to speak out whatever occurs to them 
successful SLA (speaking, the first step)
(X) uncomfortable to speak 
spend a lot of time reading 
superior in memorizing good essays 
improve SLA
(2) Attitude
positive attitude
students with positive attitudes 
find ways out to solve possible difficulties 
better achievers in SLA
relation of attitudes & SLA achievements
The more positive attitude a learner has,
the more chances for him to be successful in SLA.
(3) Motivation (integrative & instrumental)
motivation
integrative
in SLA environment
(V) immigrated to the US
(participate in the activities in the community)
instrument
(X) English teachers in Taiwan
(put into use what they learn)
high motivation  successful learners
Whatever type of motivation it may be, students with high
motivation are on a way to a successful learner of a second
language.
(4) Empathy
participate
Empathy refers to the intention to participate.
e.g.
In an English conversation class, do you usually
participate in the discussion?
How many chances have you ever created yourself
to practice in English?
participate more, success more
The more chances you get to participate, the more
chances for you to become a successful learner.
5.2 Learning Strategies
strategy
Strategies refer to ways or approaches adopted in
enhancing the ability of the second language.
e. g. listening to the radio, watching TV programs,
studying on language websites, reading books,
newspapers, magazines & reading aloud
production strategy
imitate a certain person’s accent or way of speaking
avoidance strategy
we try to avoid using a structure foreign to us
e.g. students avoid the use of relative clauses in writing
There are similarities and differences
between L1 and L2 acquisition.
6.1 Similarities of L1 & L2 Acquisition
6.2 Differences of L1 & L2 Acquisition
6.1 Similarities of L1 & L2 Acquisition
morphology, phonology & syntax
There is no great difference between L1 & L2
acquisition in terms of morphology,
phonology & syntax.
e.g. developmental errors
like went, goed & wented
occur in both L1 & L2 acquisition
6.2 Differences in L1 & L2 Acquisition
internal structure, environments, ways of acquisition
(1) internal structure
L1 (no grammar)
there is no concrete grammar for L1 learners
L2 (1 grammar)
there is at least one grammar in their brains
(interference with the L2 acquisition)
CA  EA
SLA studies began with contrastive analysis between
L1 & L2. Then errors have been collected & sorted.
(2) environment
L1(enough exposure)
In L1 acquisition there is exposure enough for
children to acquire that language.
L2 (limited exposure)
In the L2 environments, L2 are scarce & limited.
e.g. in our acquisition of English
It is found hard to expose ourselves to English
speaking environments.
(3) way of acquisition
L1 acquisition (no one fails)
it emerges naturally
(X) pay any attention to learning strategies
(X) memorize vocabulary, grammatical structure, etc.
L2 acquisition(only a few success)
it takes a long time
(V) a classroom, a teacher, a formal schedule & the like
(V) pressure  anxiety & motivation
where there is a goal of achieving, there is pressure.
the pressure brings about anxiety, deters motivation
In terms of exposure, there are two
types of teaching environments:
(1) total immersion &
(2) partial immersion.
7.1 Total Immersion
7.2 Partial Immersion
7.3 Three Possibilities
7.1 total immersion
all courses in L2
It refers to putting the learners into an environment
in which all the courses are taught in the second
language.
e.g.
some schools in Canada
L2: English (36 hours per week).
L1: French (the remaining school hours)
7.2 partial immersion
part in L2
It refers to only in part of the classes the second
language is spoken.
two sub-types
morning
afternoon
L2 in the morning, L1 in other time
L2 in the afternoon , L1 in the other time
in Taiwan
L1: Mandarin is the main language
L2: English is taught as a foreign language
(3-4 hours in English class  class language)
7.3 three possibilities
(1) All in English (rare)
English teachers speak English from the beginning
to the ending of the class. This kind of teaching is
rare in actuality.
(2) Mandarin-main & English-sub (85 %)
Mandarin is the main language. But the teacher would
sometimes ask students in simple English. This type
accounts for more than 85% of all the English teachers.
(3) English-textbooks
English is only used when reading the textbooks.
There have been different approaches
or teaching techniques developed in the
literature.
8.1 Grammar Translation Method
8.2 Audio-lingual Approach
8.3 Communicative Approach
8.1 Grammar Translation Method(GTM)
the base
contrastive analysis (translating L2  L1)
the emphasis
differences of L1 & L2 grammar
the main target
grammatical analysis
(memorize vocabulary & sentence patterns)
(pay attention to reading & writing)
characteristics
teacher-centered
In class it is teachers that teach all the time, leaving
little space for students to practice what is taught.
a lot of grammar
a lot of grammatical knowledge instead of L2 itself
(used to be popular, still adopted in some schools)
a lot of work after class
A lot of assignments or exercises are left to students.
8.2 Audio-lingual Approach
the base
(1) Linguistic structuralism &
(2) psychological behaviorism
(1) linguistic structuralism (a house & a language)
building a house
bricks  bricks combined together 
walls  4 pieces of walls & a cover 
a house
acquiring a language
phonemes (consonants / vowels ) 
syllables (e.g., tea [ti], see [si] ) 
words  words + syntactic structure 
a sentence
(2) psychological behaviorism
behaviorism: stimulus & response
(no substantial meaning) learners first encounter
sounds or phonetic symbols like [b] 
(look & read) instructors ask the students to read [b]
sound whenever they look at the symbol [b] 
(built the relation) the stimulus (the symbol [b]) &
the response (the reading of [b] sound) 
(recognize) recognize that [b] is read [b] sound
the tenet (drill & practice / stimuli & responses)
In Taiwan (in Audio-lingual Approach)
(memorize K.K.) memorize the phonetic alphabet 
(vocabulary) begin with vocabulary 
(structure) basic sentence structure of English 
(sentence) suitable words to suitable positions of a sentence
the weak point
(1) grammar & practice (???)
grammatical terminologies  put them into practice
(2) authentic (???)
memorize a lot of sentence patterns  put into use
8.3 Communicative Approach (a concept , a philosophy)
an approach of teaching (X)
the main idea (linguistic competence)
Learners are trained to get the linguistic competence.
SLA should be put in the same environments as L1.
e.g. L2: English
learners : exposed to authentic English environments
the purpose (communication)
The target language is for the purpose of communication.
to keep away from grammatical errors (X)
(native speakers run into slip tongues, mistakes or errors)
taught pattern by pattern (X) (not authentic.)
characteristics
(1) contents > forms
pay attention to contents but not forms
emphasizing the ability to communicate
start with mutual understanding by speaking & listening
(2) learners based
It is the learners that are concerned in the learning &
teaching process.
(learner’s personalities & attitudes begin to attract
intention in the field of SLA)
(teacher centered: GTM & Audio-lingual Approach)
Traditional teaching approaches
grammar, vocabulary & pronunciation rules
(the topmost important)
clear & concrete learning goals for each class
Communicative Approach
grammatical structures, vocabulary & pragmatics
(mixed & expressed in practical communication)
teachers:
good at organizing or creating authentic environments
students:
feel free in class & get encouragement by way of
successful communication
a comparison
9.1 universal grammar and SLA
9.2 the role of mother tone
9.3 input and output
9.4 individual difference
9.5 personalities and strategies
9.6 a comparison between L1 & L2 acquisition
9.7 types of teaching
9.8 teaching approaches
9.1 universal grammar and SLA
LAD( Language Acquisition Device)
innate & biological (grow  matured  fade away)
UG(Universal Grammar)
universal principles & parameter settings in LAD
SLA model
( L1 )
interlanguage
( L2 )
LA & SLA
LA: acquire (grammar – X)
SLA: learn (grammar – L1)
9.2 the role of mother tone (L1 interference)
theory
presenter
CAH
Lado
(1957)
MDH
Eckman
(1997)
SLM
Flege
(1981)
types
idea
similar
L1 = L2 / L1 ≈ L2
different
L1 ≠ L2
marked
rare
unmarked
common
new
X in L1
old
= to L1 / ≈ to L1
EA (Corder, 1964): collect & sort out error data
CA & EA: two sides of a coin
different predictions of learning difficulties
SLA
theory
CAH
MDH
SLM
difficult
easy
new sounds
marked sounds
old sounds
old sounds
unmarked sounds
new sounds
SLM: a foreign accent
New sounds are easy to get but they are hard to be mastered.
Old sounds make a second language sound with a foreign
accent.
9.3 input and output
SLA model
Input
interlanguge
Output
three hypotheses
(1) Input Hypothesis
the input: be comprehensible to the learners
the acquisition process : i + 1
i : the beginning point
+1: a little improvement in acquisition
(2) Output Hypothesis
the output:
an input (comprehensible) ≠ an output (comprehensible)
the process:
act of producing language (speaking or writing)
 SLA (V) e.g. open the mouth & speak out
(3) The Input-Output Interaction Hypothesis
the interaction: input + output + input-output
negotiation: repetition + confirmation + clarification
communication: problems & questions  OK
(no worry about the comprehensibility of input)
9.4 individual difference
individual personalities are of two types
(1) field independence
good at logical reasoning
language as mathematics
sentences: vocabulary, categories, syntactic structure
(2) field dependence
good at fast reading
emphasize comprehension
focus on the whole meaning of sentences / passage
9.5 personalities and strategies
unique
Personalities are like faces.
4 factors for a successful SLA
(1) aptitude
age, talents & out-spoken
(2) attitude
more positive  more successful SLA
(3) motivation
integrative & instrument
(4) empathy
participate more  success more in SLA
9.6 a comparison between L1 and L2 acquisition
(1) L1 acquisition ≈ L2 acquisition
no great difference in morphology, phonology & syntax
(2) L1 acquisition ≠ L2 acquisition
internal structure
L1 (no grammar) vs. L2 (L1 grammar)
environments
L1 (enough exposure) vs. L2 (limited exposure)
ways of acquisition
L1 (emerges naturally) vs. L2 (takes a long time)
L1 (no one fails) vs. L2 (few learners success)
9.7 types of teaching
In terms of exposure, there are two types of teaching
environments.
(1) total immersion
all the courses are taught in L2
(2) partial immersion
only part of the classes in L2
3 possibilities In Taiwan
in
English
rare
Mandarin-main
& English-sub
85 %
in
Mandarin
textbooks ( English)
9.8 teaching approaches
There have been different approaches or teaching techniques
developed in the literature, e.g. Grammar Translation method,
Audio-lingual Approach & Communicative Approach.
approach
the base
the focus
GT
contrastive analysis
differences of
grammatical analysis
Method
translating L2  L1
L1 & L2 grammar
Audio-lingual
linguistic structuralism &
drill & practice
Approach
Communicative
Approach
psychological behaviorism stimuli & responses
communication
the core idea
authentic language
drill
part of habits
authentic environment 
linguistic competence
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