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Second Language Acquisition . Lec s . 4 & 5. Linguistics, Psychological Theories, & SLA . Second language acquisition (SAL) Second language acquisition research focuses on the developing knowledge and use of a language by children & adults who know at least one language.

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Linguistics psychological theories sla
Linguistics, Psychological Theories, & SLA

  • Second language acquisition (SAL)

  • Second language acquisition research focuses on the developing knowledge and use of a language by children & adults who know at least one language.

  • Understanding how languages are learned will lead to more effective teaching practices.

First language acquisition second language acquisition
First Language Acquisition & Second Language Acquisition

  • Second-language acquisition or second-language learning is the process by which people learn a second language. Second-language acquisition (often abbreviated to SLA) is also the name of the scientific discipline devoted to studying that process. Second language refers to any language learned in addition to a person's first language; although the concept is named second language acquisition, it can also incorporate the learning of third, fourth or subsequent languages.[1] Second-language acquisition refers to what learners do; it does not refer to practices in language teaching.(

Acquisition l2
Acquisition & L2

  • L2 may be learned

  • simultaneously with L1, or

  • successively with L1 (Childhood/ adolescence/ adulthood)

    L2 may be learned in

  • L1 environment (Instruction)

  • L2 environment (verbal contact with native speakers)

Acquisition or learning krashen 1981
Acquisition or Learning?Krashen (1981)



Conscious process of studying it

Formal setting

  • Subconscious process of picking up a language through exposure

  • Contact with natives

Research in sla
Research in SLA

  • Attempts have been made to answer the following question:

  • How do individuals acquire an L2?

  • What are the different thoughts & premises that have been offered in order to explain the process of SLA?

  • What needs to be taught in L2 classes?

Approaches to the study of sla
Approaches to the study of SLA

  • The behavioristic approach

  • The cognitive/ psychological approach

  • The creative construction approach

  • The sociological approach

Historical perspective
Historical Perspective

  • 1950s pedagogic (the teacher)

  • 1970s  pedagogic (the learner)

  • External factors  internal factors

  • Mental grammar processes of the speaker, NOT the linguistic structure

  • Why?

  • Research in linguistics, psychology, & L1 acquisition

  • The need to understand the mechanisms underlying SLA.

  • Are these mechanisms similar to those involved in FLA?

1 the b ehavioristic approach
1. The Behavioristic Approach

  • (Skinner, 1957)

    SLA is a process of imitation & reinforcement

  • (Lado, 1957)

    The acquisition of L2 is essentially a task of overcoming the L1 habits & learning (in their place) the habits of the L2. Only the different elements between L1 & L2 are to be learned.

1 the behavioristic approach contrastive analysi s
1. The Behavioristic Approach & Contrastive Analysis

  • Positive vs. negative transfer (Arabic & English)

    I’m going to home

    In my way to home

    This is the house I live in it

    Openthe light & close the light

    To drive a plane

1 the behavioristic approach contrastive analysis
1. The Behavioristic Approach & Contrastive Analysis

  • To identify the structural similarities & difference between languages

  • The findings will aid in planning the language-teaching materials

  • The main aim of behavioristic teaching is to (i) form new correct linguistic habits through intensive practice, & (ii) eliminate errors in the process of SLA

Critical evaluation of the behavioristic approach
Critical evaluation of the behavioristic approach

  • The learning process is more complex than imitation & habit-formation.

  • Transfer alone doesn’t fulfill the function of explaining the learner’s behavior in the L2.

  • L2 learners know that certain features of their L1 are less likely to be transferable than others (idiomatic expressions).

2 cognitive psychological approach
2. Cognitive / Psychological Approach

  • Cognitive factors involve the mechanics of how an individual acquires something.

  • SLA = the acquisition of a complex cognitive skill (sub-skills)

  • A complex cognitive skill /

    Performance A (pattern) + Performance B (tense) = Fluent Performance

A part skill full skill
A. Part skill & full skill

  • E.g. learning to express a communicative function (may I …)  sub-skill

  • To take part in a conversation  a whole skill

B restructuring
B. Restructuring

  • There is an interaction between the element the learner is learning & the knowledge he has already acquired

  • This may restructure the system (language) the learner has or acquires

  • An L2 learner’s performance improves & develops through constant reorganizing & restructuring of information contained in this system.

  • An L2 learner will simplify & unify linguistic information, & gain increasing control of language performance.

3 creative construction hypothesis
3. Creative Construction Hypothesis

  • Chomsky & SLA

  • What is the creative construction hypothesis ?

  • The learner constructs a series of internal representations of the L2 system which result from natural processing strategies:

    (generalization, transfer, exposure to the L2 in communication situations)

Creative construction approach
Creative Construction Approach

  • The analysis of learners’ errors at various points in their SLA

  • The order in which certain structures are acquired

    INPUT  OPERATION OF INTERNAL PROCESSING STRATEGEIS / (not the learner’s attempts to produce the language)

    SLA takes place internally via HEARING & READING not SPEAKING & WRITING

Krashen the monitor model creative construction hypothesis
Krashen & the monitor model (creative construction hypothesis)

  • The acquisition-learning hypothesis

  • The monitor hypothesis

  • The natural order hypothesis

  • The input hypothesis

  • The effective filter hypothesis

A the acquisition learning hypothesis
a. The acquisition-learning hypothesis



The processing of language input provided by explicit teaching of grammatical rules

It is knowing the rules; having a conscious knowledge about grammar

  • The processing of language input provided by information

B the monitor hypothesis
b. The monitor hypothesis

  • Monitor is a device that learners use to edit their own language performance by modifying utterances which are generated from the acquired knowledge (competence)

  • It occurs just before or after an utterance

  • BUT, there are 3 conditions

  • Some knowledge of the acquired rule

  • Sufficient time

  • The learner’s attention  location + nature of the grammatical form

C t he natural order hypothesis
c. The natural-order hypothesis

  • Language learners acquire properties of an L2 in a predictable order through a series of common transitional stages in moving towards target/ 2nd language forms

  • Exception: morphemes & conjunctions

D the input hypothesis
d. The input hypothesis

  • Input is the most important factor in SLA; it affects the progress of the learner in learning the L2.

  • The characteristics of comprehensible input:

  • Comprehensive

  • Adequate to the level of learners

  • Clear (pronunciation + grammar)

E the affective filter hypothesis
e. The affective filter hypothesis

  • Non-linguistic factors affecting SLA


The sociological approach or acculturation model
The Sociological Approach, ORACCULTURATION Model

  • The focus in the late 1970s & early 1980s  the social context of the adult SLA

  • Acculturation  the process of becoming adapted to the culture of the new or 2nd language

  • understanding of the system of thoughts, beliefs, emotions, & system of communication of the new culture

  • Degree of adaptation to L2 = extent of competence acquired in L2

Social distance psychological distance
social distance & psychological distance

  • Learners of L2 Social distance  native speakers of L2

  • Development towards L2 is dependent on the level of social distance between the learner & native speakers of L2

  • Social distance & the acquisition of Grammar

  • Learners of L2 psychological distance  native speakers of L2

  • Psycho. Distance results from various affective factors concerning the learner as an individual

  • Resolution of language shock, culture shock, stress, integrated vs. instrumental motivation

4 the sociological approach or acculturation model
4. The Sociological Approach, ORACCULTURATION Model

  • This model explains why L2 learners often fail to develop/ achieve native-like competence due to social and/ or psychological factors