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LING1000/LING6100 Second Language Acquisition Lecture A 11A.1 Types of second language acquisition A primary distinction is made between child SLA (often called childhood bilingualism) and adult SLA.

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Ling1000 ling6100 second language acquisition lecture a l.jpg
LING1000/LING6100Second Language AcquisitionLecture A

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11A.1 Types of second language acquisition

  • A primary distinction is made between child SLA(often called childhood bilingualism) and adult SLA.

  • The L2 can be learned in a naturalistic context, where the learner is immersed in language (e.g., a newly-arrived immigrant), or in a formal setting where instruction is provided.

  • The L2 can be learned as a second language, in a cultural setting in which it is readily available to the L2 learner (e.g., learning English in Australia) or as a foreign language where it is not readily available outside of the learning context (e.g., learning French in Australia).

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11A.2 Similarities between first and second language acquisition

  • The L2 learner faces a logical problemsimilar to that faced by the child learning the L1. The input to the learner underdetermines the eventual output, and negative evidence, in the form of corrective feedback is not always available.

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Morpheme order acquisition

  • L2 development also shows evidence for systematic, rule-governed patterns of development similar to those observed in the child L1. Evidence from morpheme order studies carried out on child and adult L2 learners shows a pattern of morpheme acquisition similar to L1 English-speaking children, and relatively uniform across learners from various language backgrounds.

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Acquisition of bound morphemes: The morpheme order studies acquisition

  • § Earliest to appear is the -ing marker on verbs signalling the present progressive form and the plural /s/ and the possessive /s/.

  • § The function words in and on also appear, as do the, a, and a little later, an.

  • § Acquired much later are auxiliaries and the copula, as well the third person singular /s/. These forms carry little communicative meaning.

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11A.2.1 acquisitionDevelopmental sequence for ESL negation

  • Stages

  • 1. External No this one/no you playing here/No very good

  • No + declarative sentence

  • 2. Internal, pre-verbal Juana no/don't have job

  • Don't present but unanalysed

  • 3. Auxiliary. + negation I can't play the guitar

  • No attached to modal but unanalysed

  • 4. Analyzed don't She doesn't drink alcohol /He doesn't go/ They don't come here.

  • Target-like verb marked for tense and number

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11A.3 The role of the L1 (1) acquisition

  • Avoidance

  • Differential learning rates

  • Different paths for learning

  • Overproduction

  • Cognate words

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11A.3 The role of the L1 (2) acquisition

  • Avoidance.A learner avoids forms in the L2 which are missing from the L1, for example avoiding L2 words that contain sounds that are not in the L1 and might be difficult to pronounce, or the use of complex grammatical structures e.g. relative clause usage by Chinese & Japanese learners (Schachter, 1979).

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11A.3 The role of the L1 (3) acquisition

  • Differential learning rates are observed across learners from different languages. French and Spanish-speaking children have been observed to acquire the copula (to be) in ESL faster than their Arabic counterparts, attributable to the similarity to the English copula to French (est) and Spanish (es).

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11A.3 The role of the L1 (4) acquisition

  • Different paths for learning, depending on the L1. Reflecting their respective L1s, the Chinese child starts using this as a definitizer before mastering the definite article the, while the Spanish child used both this and the from the beginning.

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11A.3 The role of the L1 (5) acquisition

  • Overproductionof certain forms, as suggested by the overuse of topic-comment structures by Chinese and Japanese ESL writers.

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11A.3 The role of the L1 (6) acquisition

  • Cognate words shared by the L1 and L2 can also help the learner, but can also be the source of 'false friends'. These are words that share a similar spelling but have a different meaning, as in English real = 'authentic' versus Spanish real = 'regal'.

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11A.4.1 Characteristics of adult SLA (1) acquisition(Bley-Vroman, 1989)

  • 1) Lack of guaranteed success.

  • 2) Rarity of complete success.

  • 3) Variation across learners.

  • 4) The occurrence of fossilization or stabilisation.

  • 5) Indeterminate intuitions concerning L2 grammaticality.

  • 6) Variation in goals.

  • 7) Affective factors play a role.

  • 8) The importance of instruction and practice.

  • 9) Effectiveness of corrective feedback.

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11A.4.1 Characteristics of adult SLA (2) acquisition

  • Learning outcomes

  • 1) Lack of guaranteed success. Normal children inevitably achieve perfect mastery of the language; adult L2 learners do not.

  • 2) Rarity of complete success.

  • 3) Variation across learnersin degree of success, course of learning and strategy used.

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11A.4.1 Characteristics of adult SLA (3) acquisition

  • Learning outcomes

  • 4) The occurrence of fossilizationor stabilisation. Ithas long been noted that L2 learners can stop at stages short of success and permanently stabilise there. Fossilisation is often observed in learners who have achieved a level of competence that ensures communicative success, even though the grammar may be very unlike that of the native.

  • 5) The presence of indeterminate intuitions concerning L2 grammaticality.

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Testing grammatical competence (1) acquisition

  • Grammaticality judgements are used to assess the state of the interlanguage grammar.

  • 1. Mary believed that John saw X.

  • 2. What [did Mary believe [that John saw ]]?

  • 3. Mary believed the claim that John saw X.

  • 4. * What [did Mary believe [the claim [that John saw ]]]?

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Testing grammatical competence (2) acquisition

  • Elicited imitation. In this task a learner is read a sentence containing a target structure and asked to repeat it. The sentences are long enough to exceed the learner's ability to remember the sentence as a random string of words, and thus require knowledge of the relevant grammatical structure to complete the task successfully.

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11A.4.1 Characteristics of adult SLA (4) acquisition

  • Learner factors

  • 6) Variation in goals. There great variation in the goal that the adult learner has for learning an L2. Some may seek to be native-like in fluency, others to read scholarship in the target L2, while others are content to develop a repertoire of stock phrases sufficient for being a tourist.

  • 7) Affective factorslike personality, socialisation and motivations play a key role in L2 learning outcomes and play a very small role in L1 development.

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11A.4.1 Characteristics of adult SLA (5) acquisition

  • The role of instruction

  • 8) The importance of instruction and practice.

  • 9) Corrective feedback. Unlike child language, negative evidence concerning what is not possible can also make a difference in adult learning.

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11A.5 Age effects in L2 development (1) acquisition

  • A critical period, after which native-like success is not possible, or a sensitive period wherein exposure will have an optimal effect?

  • 1. Adults can have an initial advantage where rate of learning is concerned, particularly in grammar (Holding time and exposure constant), but they are eventually overtaken by child learners who receive sufficient input.

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11A.5 Age effects in L2 development (2) acquisition

  • 2. Only children appear able to attain a native accent in informal learning contexts. Upper limits range from 6 years (Long, 1990) to pre-puberty (Scovel, 1981). Adult learners may be able to acquire native-like accent with instruction.

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11A.5 Age effects in L2 development (3) acquisition

  • 3. Irrespective of whether or not a speaker reaches native-like proficiency, children are more likely to reach higher levels of attainment in both pronunciation and grammar than adults.

  • 4. Children are more likely to acquire a native grammatical competence. The critical period for grammar may be around 15 years, although some adults may be able to achieve native-like competence (White & Genesee, 1996).

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11A.5.1 Reasons why age might make a difference in L2 acquisition

  • > social/affective factors such as the need for ego permeability and for cultural identification with the target language necessary for learning.

  • > children may also receiveeasier to learn input.

  • > natural language learningprocesses may also be overridden bycognitive development

  • > neurophysiological explanationsincluding loss of plasticity due to lateralisation of hemispheric function

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11A.6 Studying the development of second acquisitionlanguage grammar

  • Interlanguage is the term given to the systematic knowledge that the learner has of the target language at a given point in time. It reflects elements of the L1 and the target language, as well as the contribution of learner-internal processes.

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acquisitionMistakes’ versus ‘Errors’

  • Mistake: Random performance slip caused by fatigue, excitement, etc. Readily self-corrected.

  • Error: Systematic deviation by learners who have not yet mastered the rules. More difficult to correct. Indication of learner’s attempt to figure out the L2 system.

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LING1100/LING6110 acquisitionSecond Language AcquisitionLecture B

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11B.1 Studying the development of second acquisitionlanguage grammar

  • Interlanguage is the term given to the systematic knowledge that the learner has of the target language at a given point in time. It reflects elements of the L1 and the target language, as well as the contribution of learner-internal processes.

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acquisitionMistakes’ versus ‘Errors’

  • Mistake: Random performance slip caused by fatigue, excitement, etc. Readily self-corrected.

  • Error: Systematic deviation by learners who have not yet mastered the rules. More difficult to correct. Indication of learner’s attempt to figure out the L2 system

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Studying L2 grammar development acquisition

  • Grammaticality judgements are often used to assess the state of the interlanguage grammar.

  • 1. Mary believed that John saw X.

  • 2. What [did Mary believe [that John saw ]]?

  • 3. Mary believed the claim that John saw X.

  • 4. * What [did Mary believe [the claim [that John saw ]]]?

  • Elicited imitation tasks are another measure of grammatical development. In this task a learner is read a sentence containing a target structure and asked to repeat it. The sentences are long enough to exceed the learner's ability to remember the sentence as a random string of words, and thus require knowledge of the relevant grammatical structure to complete the task successfully.

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Perspectives on SLA acquisition

  • the behaviourist approach: L2 knowledge is a habit

  • the mentalist (or innatist) approach: development of L2 knowledge governed by innate capacity, similar to the child L1

  • the interactionist approach: L2 knowledge is the result of the interaction of the individual learner and the learning environment

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Behaviourist account of L2 learning (1) acquisition

  • Behaviourist accounts assume that language learning is a matter of habit formation based on imitation. Language learning and teaching was guided by the Contrastive Analysis (CA)approach, in which languages were compared for similarities and differences in phonology, grammar and lexis.

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Contrastive Analysis acquisition

  • Assumptions.

  • 1. Language learning = habit formation

  • 2. The L1 is major source of error in L2 use.

  • 3. Errors are the result of differences between L1 and L2

  • 4. The greater the differences, the more errors will occur

  • 5. Focus on dissimilarities in learning; similarities require little new learning

  • 6. Difficulty and ease in predicted by differences and similarities between L1 and L2

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An interactionist view of SLA acquisition

  • Assumes that L2 knowledge develops as the result of the complex interplay between the learner and the learning environment. It recognises the contribution to L2 learning outcomes of both the environment and the learner-internal learning processes.

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An interactionist view of SLA (2) acquisition

  • The interactionist view identifies a number of conditions that facilitate L2 development.

  • 1. The linguistic characteristics of target language input need to be made salient.

  • 2. Learners should receive help in comprehending semantic and syntactic aspects of linguistic input.

  • 3. Learners need to have opportunities to produce target language output.

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An interactionist view of SLA (3) acquisition

  • Conditions facilitating L2 development (continued)

  • 4. Learners need to notice errors in their own output.

  • 5. Learners need to correct their linguistic output.

  • 6. Learners need to engage in target language interaction whose structure can be modified for negotiation of meaning.

  • 7. Learners should engage in L2 tasks designed to maximise opportunities for good interaction.

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An interactionist view of SLA (4) acquisition

  • Comprehensible input is receptivelanguage that is slightly ahead of the learner's current state of grammatical knowledge. It is this input that serves as the primary "stuff" that the learner uses to develop L2 proficiency.

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Comprehensible input acquisition

  • Input to the learner is made comprehensible through linguistic and interactional adjustments made during conversation, especially by a native speaker (NS).

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Linguistic adjustments: acquisitionThe more proficient speaker will provide the learner with comprehensible input by:

  • • slower, more careful pronunciation, and stress or increased volume on key words;

  • • the use of shorter sentences and sentences in which grammatical relations are made explicit, as in the shift from He asked to go to He asked if he could go;

  • •the use of simpler syntax, including more present tense markings and yes/no questions;

  • • the use of more restricted vocabulary and the avoidance of pro forms.

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Interactional adjustments acquisition

  • The more proficient speaker will provide the learner with comprehensible input by:

  • • sticking to a narrower range of structures, mostly with a here-and-now orientation;

  • • modifying interactional structure including the allowance for topic-shifts;

  • • a greater use of confirmation checks, clarification requests, question and answers;

  • • the use of paraphrase and circumlocution and the avoidance of difficult topics.

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Factors contributing to success in SLA acquisition

  • • Aptitude

  • A natural ability for learning an L2, in part related to general intelligence but also in part to be distinct. The most well-known attempt to measure aptitude is the Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT). The MLAT tests four components of language aptitude: phonemic coding ability, grammatical sensitivity, inductive language learning ability, and rote learning ability.

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Factors contributing to success in SLA acquisition

  • • Motivation

  • Integrative motivation is present in learners who identify with the target culture, would like to resemble members of the target culture and who would like to participate in the target culture

  • Instrumental orientationrefers to those cases where the learners are interested in learning the language for the possible benefits: professional advancement, study in the target language, business.

  • Does motivation have a causal or a resultative relationship with L2 proficiency.

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Factors contributing to success in SLA acquisition

  • • Attitudes (Social distance)

  • The perceived distance between the L1 and L2 can also affect learning. There are two types:

  • Group distance is the perception the learner has of the target language based on the beliefs of the native culture toward that language;

  • Psychological distance is the result of the individual learner's own experience. (Schumann, 1978) states that the degree of 'acculturation' (positive attitude toward target language and culture) will predict learning outcomes.

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Factors contributing to success in SLA acquisition

  • • Personality

  • These include differences in learner anxiety, the degree of extroversion or willingness to take risks, and the use of specific language learning strategies.

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