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STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT IN LANGUAGE ACQUISITION MÀSTER DE FORMACIÓ DE PROFESSORAT DE SECUNDÀRIA BATXILLERATS I EOIs. Helena Roquet Pugès Departament de Traducció i Ciències del Llenguatge Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Oct 2013

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Helena Roquet Pugès Departament de Traducció i Ciències del Llenguatge

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Helena Roquet Pugès

Departament de Traducció i Ciències del Llenguatge

Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Oct 2013

Grup d’Adquisició de Llengües des de la Catalunya Multilingüe (ALLENCAM)


  • Questionnaire on Second Language Acquisition (SLA)
  • Terminology
  • First Language Acquisition (L1)

What and how we learn?

  • Foreign Language Acquisition (L2/L3)

Differences and similitudes

  • Instructional Implications

What can we do as teachers?

  • Input and interaction. Formal instruction
questionnaire i what do you think
QUESTIONNAIRE I: What do youthink?
  • 1) What is included in the study of SLA?
  • 2) What is not included?
  • 3) Why is SLA research relevant?
questionnaire ii correct or incorrect
QUESTIONNAIRE II: Correctorincorrect?
  • 1) We learn languages by imitating what we hear.
  • 2) Adults tend to correct children when they make mistakes.
  • 3) Intelligent people are better at learning languages.
  • 4) If you learn a language before adolescence, you are better at it.
  • 5) Most errors we make are due to the influence of our L1.
  • 6) Bilingual children do not learn their two languages well.
  • 7) Mixing languages is dangerous.
sla main issues in a nutshell
SLA mainissues in a nutshell:
  • 1) How do learners learn an L1, an L2?
  • 2) Why do learners vary in how fast they learn an L2?
  • 3) Why do most fail to achieve full TL competence?
language acquisition terminology i
LanguageAcquisition: Terminology I
  • First language/s:

the 1L/s one learns as a child (also mother tongue).

  • Second language/s:

a non native L that is widely used for purposes of communication, usually as a medium of communication, government or business (i.e. English in Nigeria).

  • Foreign language/s:

a non native language (usually taught in school) that has no status as a routine medium of communication in that country (i.e. English in Catalonia).

language acquisition terminology ii
LanguageAcquisition: TerminologyII
  • Acquisition: Natural – implicit

unconscious process by which L is acquired similarly as children acquire their 1L. “Natural” way of picking up a L by using it in natural, communicative situations.

  • Learning: Formal – explicit

conscious knowledge about grammar and rules about a language. It takes place in classrooms when following a structured course with a teacher, so formal teaching and correction of errors are necessary for learning to occur.

Main tenets of Stephen Krashen’s theory of SLA.

first language acquisition l1
FirstLanguageAcquisition (L1)
  • One mother tongue language : L1
    • Monolingualism
  • Two or more mother tongue languages: L1s
    • Bilingualism, Trilingualism, etc…
first language acquisition l11
FirstLanguageAcquisition (L1)
  • We all learn to speak our first language/s with the same degree of competence:

(however, the same does not occur with L2/3)

    • First language competence will have an effect on second/foreign language competence.
first language acquisition l12
FirstLanguageAcquisition (L1)
  • What do we learn?
    • Language development.
  • How do we learn?
    • Requisites
language development 1
Language development (1)
  • 0;6 months = vocalisations (crowling)
  • 0;8 months= sounds and gestures
  • 0;9 months = babbling /pæ/ /bæ/
  • 0;10 months = reduplicated babbling
language development 2
Language development (2)
  • 0;11 months = first words
  • 1;4 years = 50 words
  • 1;6 years= 100 words
    • + telegraphic speech:
      • ‘daddy go; more this; no cooky’
  • 1;7 years = 200 words
  • 1;10 years = first syntax
language development 3
Language development (3)
  • 4/5 years
    • Phonology, lexis and syntax (stages of acquisition)
  • Until 10 years
    • More complexsyntax
  • Allourlife
    • Lexis
degree of competence l1
Degree of competence L1
  • Communicativeabilities
  • Basic interpersonal Communicativeskills (BICS)
  • Academicabilities COGNITIVE MATURATION
  • CognitiveAcademicLanguageProficiency (CALP)

(Cummins, 1979)

how we learn requisites
How we learn: Requisites
  • Chomskyan innatism

We are genetically programmed to learn any language.


  • Exposure to the target language (INPUT)
    • 4/5 years = 10.000 hours
  • In communicative situations (OUTPUT)
second foreign language acquisition

Differences and similarities:


Natural acquisition (+BICS): Typically of L1

Formal acquisition/learning (+CALP): Typically of L2, except for bilingualism in children

second foreign language acquisition1
  • Wealllearnour L1/s withthesamedegree of competence
  • Noteveryonereachesthesamelevels of competence in an L2:
    • Similarities (route of acquisition)
    • Individual differences (level of attainment, speed):


(thesemakeusdifferent and theconditions are notalwaystheonesexplainedbefore)

  • ¿What do we learn?
      • Basic interactive communicative skills (BICS)
      • Cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) (Cummins, 1984)
  • ¿How do we learn?
    • Massive exposure to target language (INPUT) in communicative situations (INTERACTION)
are the conditions to formal language learning in school met
¿Are the conditions to formal language learning in school met?
  • ¿Massive exposure to input?
    • NO
  • ¿In interactive contexts with attention to BICS as well as to CALP?
    • FEW
instructional implications input and interaction formal instruction
InstructionalImplicationsInput and interaction. Formal instruction

What can we do as teachers?

  • As much input as possible (always English, internet, songs, films, documentaries...)
  • Promote communicative situations with a lot of interaction
  • CLIL
  • ….
input and interaction formal instruction
Input and interaction. Formal instruction


Focus on form: drawing students’ attention to linguistic elements as they arise incidentally in lessons whose overriding focus is on meaning or communication(Doughty & Long, 2003)

In communicative contexts

Double orientation: towards form and meaning

instructed sla the role of grammar 1
INSTRUCTED SLAThe role of grammar (1)

Ellis (1994):

“Whereas we have always believed that informal exposure to the target language may not be a sufficient condition for acquisition, the combination of communicative situations and formal instruction in the classroom generates the optimal conditions for language acquisition”

input and interaction formal instruction1
Input and interaction. Formal instruction

DeKeyser’s warning is that implicit focus on form may be insufficient if there is not massive input (DeKeyser, 2002)

Focus on forms: separate attention to grammar and subsequent integration of the knowledge provided in increasingly communicative activity (DeKeyser, 1998)

Attention drawn towards language forms to develop linguistic awareness which may result in uptake and subsequently intake. (DeKeyser, 2002)


  • Learning a second/foreign language is not

completely different from learning a first language, yet it is not entirely the same…..