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EFPM266: Principles of Language Learning Introduction to the module. An overview of key debates and issues in second language learning theory. Dr Gabriela Meier. Today’s objectives. To get to know the tutor and peers Understanding the rationale and scope of the module
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Introduction to the module
Dr Gabriela Meier
Pair and group discussion:
Second Language Learning or Second Language Acquisition SLA?
Developments in the field are leading researchers to question the term SLA:
For a full discussion of this see Block (2003).
X as a second language
Naturalistic language learning
Fig. 3.1 ‘Second’ context scenarios (Block 2003:34)
Key debates and issues in developing a theory of second language learning
A child or adult learning a second language is different from a child acquiring a first language in terms of both
1) learner characteristics
2) learning conditions
1. Knowledge of another language
2. Cognitive maturity
3. Metalinguistic awareness
4. World Knowledge
5. Anxiety about speaking
6. Freedom to be silent
7. Ample time & contact
8. Corrective feedback: (grammar and pronunciation)
9. Corrective feedback: (meaning, word choice, politeness)
10. Modified input
Second/additional language learning theories need to account for language acquisition/learning by learners with a variety of characteristics and learningin a variety of contexts.
Why are language learning theories important for us as foreign/second/additional language teachers?
second language learning
Language theory Learning theory
Structural linguisticsBehaviourist psychology
‘Deep’ structure Chomsky(innatism) and
Competence vs performance Piaget (constructivist + developmentalist)
Functional linguisticsSocial theories of learning
Language as tool for (weak and strong forms)
communication Interactionism, Vygotskian
(Halliday) sociocultural theory, and critical theory.
Evaluation based on your experience
Breen (2001) argues that a theory of second language learning must seek to incorporate the answers to all of the following questions:
Make visible differences
Reflect on your context, look at theories and discuss their relevance to your context.
Enable student-centred seminars
EFPM266 Principles of language learning