Language learning theories kielen oppimis ja omaksumisteorioita
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Language Learning Theories Kielen oppimis- ja omaksumisteorioita. Seppo Tella. L2 Learning. How does second language (L2) learning take place in a classroom?. Classroom LL vs. Naturalistic LL.

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Language learning theories kielen oppimis ja omaksumisteorioita

Language Learning TheoriesKielen oppimis- ja omaksumisteorioita

Seppo Tella


L2 learning
L2 Learning

  • How does second language (L2) learning take place in a classroom?


Classroom ll vs naturalistic ll
Classroom LL vs. Naturalistic LL

  • 1) Sociolinguistically, the distinction is one of domain: location, participants, topics, purpose

  • 2) Psycholinguistically, the distinction is between formal and informal LL

  • 3) Educationalists often distinguish the idea of formal training (typically occurring in classrooms) and apprenticeship (= learning by doing)


Understanding classroom ll
Understanding Classroom LL

  • How can we develop our understanding of classroom LL?

  • How can we build a theory of the way in which classroom learners acquire an L2?(Three approaches)


Three approaches
Three Approaches

  • 1) Classroom LL can be explained with reference to a general theory of learning

  • 2) Instructed L2 learning proceeds in the same way as naturalistic LL

  • 3) Empirical L2 classroom research


1 gen theory of learning 1
1) Gen. Theory of Learning (1)

  • has proved popular in the past and continues to do so today

  • extrapolating from a general theory is a hazardous undertaking

  • doesn't involve going inside the classroom to try to discover what actually happens when teachers 'intervene' in the learning process


1 gen theory of learning 2
1) Gen. Theory of Learning (2)

  • in the 1950s–1960s, there was no field of enquiry that could be labelled 'L2 acquisition’ (SLA = second language acquisition)

  • ideas about language teaching were derived in part from linguistic theory and in part from a general theory of learning


1 gen theory of learning 3
1) Gen. Theory of Learning (3)

  • the linguistic theory = structuralism (language = a set of formal patterns, could be described without reference to meaning)

  • the learning theory = behaviourism (learning = a process of habit-formation, stimulus–response associations)


1 gen theory of learning 4
1) Gen. Theory of Learning (4)

  • eg audiolingualism (Lado; Brooks) drew extensively from both structuralist and behaviourist theories; perhaps the most influential classroom LL theory to be based on a general theory of learning

  • a clear link between Skinner's theory of operant conditioning and programmed LL


1 gen theory of learning 5
1) Gen. Theory of Learning (5)

  • currently, considerable attention is paid to cognitive (learning) theory, drawing extensively on research into information processing:

  • cognitive learning theory emphasises internal mental processing, rather than external behaviour


1 gen theory of learning 6
1) Gen. Theory of Learning (6)

  • cognitive theory seeks to explain (1) how knowledge is established, (2) how knowledge becomes automatic, and (3) how new knowledge is integrated into the learner's existing cognitive system

  • key distinctions: declarative (i.e., new knowledge; "knowing that") and procedural (i.e., automated; "knowing how") knowledge


1 gen theory of learning 7
1) Gen. Theory of Learning (7)

  • cognitive learning theory claims that the process by which new linguistic knowledge is internalised differs from the process by which control over this knowledge is achieved

  • learners typically progress from declarative to procedural knowledge as they develop control


1 gen theory of learning 8
1) Gen. Theory of Learning (8)

  • many of the errors that learners produce are not the result of a lack of declarative knowledge but rather of procedural knowledge. The solution is to provide conditions of learning that enable them to practise using their knowledge in authentic communicative situations (Johnson 1988)


1 gen theory of learning 9
1) Gen. Theory of Learning (9)

  • extrapolation from general theories of learning is inevitable and desirable

  • learning an L2 in the classroom must share a number of characteristics with the learning of other kinds of knowledge


2 instructed l2 naturalistic ll 1
2) Instructed L2 ≈ Naturalistic LL (1)

  • Another approach is to assume that instructed L2 learning proceeds in the same way as naturalistic LL

  • proved popular (late 1960s–)

  • two starting points:

    • 1) child L1 acquisition (L2 = L1 hypothesis)

    • 2) naturalistic L2 acquisition


2 instructed l2 naturalistic ll 2
2) Instructed L2 ≈ Naturalistic LL (2)

  • the claim that naturalistic L2 learning and classroom LL have many features in common is a fairly safe one and can be subjected to empirical enquiry.

  • doesn't involve going inside the classroom to try to discover what actually happens when teachers 'intervene'in the learning process


2 instructed l2 naturalistic ll 3
2) Instructed L2 ≈ Naturalistic LL (3)

  • in the 1960s behaviourist theories of learning began to buckle under the weight of Chomsky's (1959) attack on the general principles of associationist psychology.

  • mentalist theories of LL began to assume ascendancy, emphasising the importance of innate knowledge and the learner's contribution to the process of LL


2 instructed l2 naturalistic ll 4
2) Instructed L2 ≈ Naturalistic LL (4)

  • the learner was credited with a mental grammar that comprised her competence and which underlay her actual language behaviour

  • the late 1960s was the beginning of SL Acquisition (SLA) as an area of empirical enquiry


2 instructed l2 naturalistic ll 5
2) Instructed L2 ≈ Naturalistic LL (5)

  • many of the early studies were error analyses, the main findings of which were:

    • many of the errors learners made were developmental in nature, i.e., learners appeared to construct their own rules, independent of L1 and L2. The finding was used against the claim of audiolingual theory that the major source of learner error was L1 interference

    • there appeared to be a natural sequence of acquisition for many grammatical features



2 instructed l2 naturalistic ll 6
2) Instructed L2 ≈ Naturalistic LL (6)

  • all this provided a basis for very different cognitivist views of classroom LL, examples:

  • cognitive code learning theory: (Carroll 1966 called it) a 'modified, up-to-date grammar-translation theory'


2 instructed l2 naturalistic ll 7
2) Instructed L2 ≈ Naturalistic LL (7)

  • cognitive code learning theory:

  • one of its central tenets was that the perception and awareness of L2 rules preceded the actual use of these rules (competence preceded performance). Therefore considerable importance was attached to metalingual knowledge (knowledge about language), directly opposed to audiolingual learning theory


2 instructed l2 naturalistic ll 8
2) Instructed L2 ≈ Naturalistic LL (8)

  • Krashen's Monitor Model(1976) based almost entirely on studies of naturalistic acquisition L1 and L2. It represented the most complete attempt yet at extrapolation


3 empirical l2 classroom research 1
3)Empirical L2 Classroom Research(1)

  • going inside the classroom to try to discover what actually happens when teachers 'intervene' in the learning process

    • 1) exploratory—interpretive research

    • 2) hypothesis-testing research

  • classroom research should be directed at building a theory of LL


Qualitative vs quantitative
Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Qualitative–Quantitative Continuum of Research Methodologies(Larsen-Freeman & Long 1991, 15).


3 empirical l2 classroom research 2
3)Empirical L2 Classroom Research(2)

  • this theory of LL can then serve as a basis for pedagogical advice/language pedagogy

  • in the 1960s–1970s, a lot of comparative research (“Is Method A more effective than Method B?”), lots of frustrations, led from studying ‘methods’ to detailed, small-scale observational studies of classroom behaviour


3 empirical l2 classroom research 3
3)Empirical L2 Classroom Research(3)

  • Empirical research (1970s–1980s) that provided a basis for building a theory of classroom L2 learning can be grouped under three headings:

  • 1) classroom process research

  • 2) the study of classroom interaction

  • 3) the study of formal instruction


3 empirical l2 classroom research 4
3)Empirical L2 Classroom Research(4)

  • examples of (1) classroom process research: error treatment, teacher talk, learners' language (eg communication strategies), differences bw pedagogic and natural discourse, different types of classroom discourse

  • main idea is to describe and then explain what is going on in the language classroom


3 empirical l2 classroom research 5
3)Empirical L2 Classroom Research(5)

  • examples of (2) the study of classroom interaction:

  • Interactional hypothesis, ie SLA occurs most efficiently when learners have plentiful opportunities to negotiate meaning

  • What kinds of pedagogic task provide the best opportunities for negotiation?

  • Does small-group work provide greater opportunity for the negotiation of meaning than teacher-class interaction?


3 empirical l2 classroom research 6
3)Empirical L2 Classroom Research(6)

  • examples of (3) formal instruction (FI):

  • focus on (i) the effect of FI on the rate/success of L2 learning or on (ii) the sequence/process of acquisition

  • some grammatical structures do not appear to be teachable unless the learner is developmentally ‘ready’


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