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Week 10: Second Language Acquisition

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  1. Week 10: Second Language Acquisition Input, interaction and second language acquisition

  2. Outline • Input and interaction in FLA • Input in SLA • Interaction in SLA • Output in SLA • Negative evidencein language acquisition • Negative evidencein the L2 classroom • Attention, consciousness-raising and ‘focus on form’

  3. Input and interaction in FLA • Baby talk: special speech style, or simplified register, used by adults and caretakers when talking with young children. • Child-directed speech (CDS): research tradition focusing on how caretakers’ interactions with young children help facilitate language acquisition

  4. Input and interaction in FLA (cont’d) • CDS and plausible effect on children’s linguistic development • Manage attention • Promote positive effect • Improve intelligibility • Facilitate segmentation • Provide feedback • Provide correct models • Reduce processing load • Encourage conversational participation • Explicitly teach social routines

  5. Input and interaction in FLA (cont’d) • CDS is typically semantically contingent, i.e. the caretaker talks with the child about objects and events to which the child is already pay attention. • Recasts are common. • Child: Fix Lily • Mother: Oh … Lily will fix it. • Explicit formal corrections of the child’s productions = useful negative evidence • Usually an expanded and grammatically correct version of a prior child utterance • Positive correlations between the proportion of recasts used by a child’s caretakers, and his or her overall rate of development.

  6. Input and interaction in FLA (cont’d) • A relationship of particular formal characteristics of CDS and children’s developing control of particular constructions • the caretaker’s use of inverted yes-no questions (Have you been sleeping?) and children’s development of verbal auxiliaries in L1 English (salient fronted auxiliary vis à vis questions marked through intonation) • Caretakers’ speech is derived primarily from the communicative goal of engaging in conversation with a linguistically and cognitively less competent partner, and sustaining and directing attention, not teaching. • Cross-cultural studies of CDS show that children learn to speak perfectly well under a wide variety of socio-cultural conditions. Finely-tuned CDS is actually not necessary.

  7. Input and interaction in FLA (cont’d) • Group settings encourage children to imitate and produce ‘unanalysed and rote-learned segments, picked up in routinised situations’ • Children will not normally learn a language to which they are merely exposed in a decontexualised way, e.g. on TV. • Multi-dimensional models of acquisition are necessary, including parental input, learning mechanisms and procedures, and innate constraints build into the child. • Studies are necessary that look at the relationship between particular features of the input, and related features in the child’s linguistic repertoire.

  8. Input in SLA • Foreigner talk: a simplified and pidgin-like variety sometimes used to address strangers and foreigners. • Krashen’s input hypothesis: The availability of (comprehensible) input is the only necessary and sufficient condition for language learning to take place • “Humans acquire language in only one way – by understanding messages, or by receiving ‘comprehensible input’… We move from i, our current level, to i + 1, the next level along the natural order, by understanding input containing i + 1” (Krashen, 1985, p.2) • Speaking is a result of acquisition and not its cause • If input is understood, and there is enough of it, the necessary grammar is automatically provided.

  9. Input in SLA(cont’d) • 3 stages in turning input into intake • Understand an L2 i + 1 form (meaning) • Notice a gap between an L2 i + 1 form and the IL rule which the learner currently controls (later omitted, as acquisition takes place entirely incidentally or without awareness) • The i + 1 form reappears. • Some criticisms • It’s not clear how the learner’s present state of knowledge (i) is to be characterised. • It’s not clear whether the i + 1 formular is intended to apply to all aspects of language. • The processes whereby language in the social environment is analysed and new elements are identified and processed are not spelled out.

  10. Interaction in SLA • Typical register, ‘Foreigner Talk Discourse’, addressed to L2 learners is grammatically simplified utterances, i.e. shorter, with less complex grammar and a narrower range of vocabulary. • Does it help promote L2 acquisition? How? • Long’s interactional hypothesis (an extension of Krashen’s Input hypothesis) • 3 steps • Linguistic/conversational adjustments promote comprehension of input. • Comprehensible input promotes acquisition. • Therefore, linguistic/conversational adjustments promote acquisition.

  11. Interaction in SLA(cont’d) • Long’s study • 16 NS-NNS, 16 NS-NS pairs, face-to-face oral tasks • Little difference between the two groups (grammatical complexity) • Significant difference in the use of conversational tactics (NS-NNS) such as repetitions, confirmation checks, comprehension checks or clarification requests. (p. 168) • Modifications to the interactional structure of conversations that take place in the process of negotiating a communication problem help make input comprehensible to an L2 learner. • The more the input was queried, recycled and paraphrased, to increase its comprehensibility, the greater its potential usefulness as input. • Types of tasks in which both partners are engaged may affect the types or amount of meaning negotiation (problem-solving tasks vs. open-ended discussions)

  12. Interaction in SLA(cont’d) • Research evidence shows the relationship between interactional modifications and increased comprehension. • Mixed results were found in the studies that tried to find the relationship between interactional modifications and acquisition.

  13. Reformulated Interaction Hypothesis • Selective attention plays an important role in the processing of comprehensible input during the negotiation of meaning. • Negative evidence obtained during negotiation of meaning may be facilitative of L2 development

  14. Output in SLA • Functions of learner output • The noticing/triggering function – consciousness-raising role • The hypothesis-testing function • The metalinguistic function, - reflective role • The production of TL may push the learner to become aware of gaps and problems in their current L2 system (noticing) • It provides them with opportunities to experiment with new structures and forms (testing hypothesis) • It provides them with opportunities to reflect on, discuss and analyse these problems explicitly (reflecting)

  15. Output in SLA (cont’d) • Only L2 production (i.e. output) really forces learners to undertake complete grammatical processing and drive forward the development of L2 syntax and morphology • Comprehension vs. Production • (Pushed) Learner output seems most useful in the area of vocabulary • Not enough evidence is obtained on the relationship between learner output and the learning of grammar. • Rich input combined with a variety of noticing activities may be enough to facilitate grammar learning.

  16. Negative evidencein language acquisition • FLA • Caretaker’s speech is in general regular and well-formed, i.e. positive evidence • Explicit negative evidence (parental correction of a child’s mistake) is rare. • (Implicit) negative evidence is regularly available in CDS, exists in a usable form and is picked up and used by child learners at least in the short term. • ?? Negative evidence is necessary for acquisition to take place.

  17. Negative evidencein language acquisition(cont’d) • SLA: Two main questions • To what extent is indirect negative evidence about the nature of L2 made available to L2 learners, in the course of interaction? • To what extent do learners notice and make use of this evidence?

  18. Negative evidencein language acquisition(cont’d) • Main focuses: Spoken interaction • Different kinds of negative feedback i.e. negotiation moves (e.g. clarification requests, confirmation checks) • Effects of recasts i.e. responses to non-target NNS utterances that provide a TL ways of expressing the original meaning. • Student: Why does the aliens attacked earth? • Teacher: Right. Why did the aliens attack earth?

  19. Negative evidencein language acquisition(cont’d) • Main focuses (cont’d) • Learners’ uptake of recasts, i.e. immediately following utterances produced by the learner. • Teacher: What did you do in the garden? • NNS student: Mm, cut the tree • Teacher: You cut the trees. Were they big trees or were they little bushes? • NNS student: Big trees

  20. Negative evidencein language acquisition(cont’d) • Oliver’s study (1995): availability of negative evidence in conversational Foreigner Talk Discourse and its usability and take-up • More than 60% of the errors made by the NNS children subjects received negative evidence from NS partners. • Negotiation moves multiple errors, semantic ambiguity • NNS: It go just one line • NS: Just along the line? • NNS: Yer

  21. Negative evidencein language acquisition(cont’d) • Recasts single errors, specific grammatical mistakes • NNS: And the … boy is holding the girl hand and … • NS: Yer. The boy is holding the girl’s hand. • Child learners incorporated just under 10% of the recasts into their following utterances. • “… input, and in this case, recasts can only be usable if they are within the learnability range of the NNS… a substantial proportion of the recasts that were not incorporated were beyond the current L2 processing abilities of the NNSs.”

  22. Negative evidencein language acquisition(cont’d) • The amount of negative feedback is variable, depending on interlocutor (adults, children) and on setting. • Negative feedback occurs regularly in most kinds of L2 interaction, in response to non-TL utterances • Learners try to produce more TL utterances.

  23. Negative evidencein the L2 classroom • Research tradition: Classroom error correction • 60% Recasts (not leading to immediate self-correction, however) • 34% Negotiation of form • 6% Explicit meta-linguistic correction • Student: I goed to the movies last night. • Teacher: Go is an irregular verb and it does not form its past tense with the ending –ed. • Negative feedback types varied according to the type of error made. • Lexical errors negotiation moves • Grammatical and phonological errors recasts

  24. Negative evidencein the L2 classroom (cont’d) • Recasts • More effective with phonological errors (60% repair) than grammatical errors (22% repair, mostly with T’s negotiation) • Recasts are not effective, e.g. in communicative classroom

  25. Attention, consciousness-raising and ‘focus on form’ • The amount of L2 learners’ attention to form may influence the extent to which L2 input and interaction actually produce L2 intake • ‘Noticing’ (selective attention) = the process of bringing some stimulus into focal attention (voluntarily or involuntarily) • ‘Noticing is the necessary and sufficient condition for the conversion of input to intake for learning’ (Schmidt, 1994: 17) • The accuracy of the (recast) repetition depends on • Language level • Length of the recast • Number of corrections in the recast

  26. Attention, consciousness-raising and ‘focus on form’(cont’d) • The effectiveness of recast is probably due to the saliency of the new form within the recast. • The saliency of the form helps L2 learners to attend to forms, which in turn can lead to greater development by highlighting specific forms in the input.