The recent history of second language learning research and human learning Part I L1 Acquisition
Introduction to Language Acquisition • Interests in L1 competence for many centuries • beginning of analyzing child language systematically and its psychological process in the second half of the 20th century • analogies between L1 and L2 acquisition especially the differences in the case of adult SL learning in terms of cognitive and affective contrasts • three theoretical positions of first language acquisition
Theories of L1 acquisition (1) Behavioristic Approaches: focus on the publicly observable responses (a) assumptions: (i) Children come into the world with a tabula rasa, a clean slate bearing no preconceived notions about the world or about language as to be shaped by their environment and slowing conditioned through reinforcement (ii) Effective language behavior is the production of correct responses to stimuli. (iii) If a particular response is reinforced, it then becomes habitual or conditioned.
Theories of L1 acquisition (b) Verbal Behavior by B.F. Skinner (1957): a behavioristic model of linguistic behavior extended from operant conditioning *Assumption: (i) an operant (an utterance) is emitted without necessarily observable stimuli; (ii) that operant is learned by reinforcement such as from another person. (iii)verbal behavior is controlled by its consequences(rewards or punishment or no reinforcement) *Criticism: Behaviorism cannot explain creativity of child language (by Noam Chomsky)
Theories of L1 acquisition (2) The Nativist Approaches (a) innateness hypotheses (i) Assertion:language acquisition is innately determined. • Language is a species-specific behavior and certain modes of perception, categorizing abilities are biologically determined. (by Eric Lenneberg, 1967) • Language acquisition device (LAD) in a little black box • sound discrimination, organization of linguistic data, only one possibility of a certain kind of linguistic system within one’s head, constant evaluation in developing linguistic system to construct the simplest possible system out of the available linguistic input(by Chomsky, 1965) (ii) strengths: able to account for the generativity of child langauge
Universal Grammar (Cook 1993, Mitchell & Myles 1998) (i) all human beings are genetically equipped with abilities that enable them to acquire language (ii) to discover what it is that all children bring to the language acquisition process from question formation, negation, word order, subject deletion and so on. (c) the development of generative grammar: children construct hypothetical grammar, formal representations of deep structures which start as pivot grammars (two-word utterances for two word classes) and mature.
(d) the Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) Model by Spolsky (Connectionism): (i) A learner’s linguistic performance may be the consequence of many levels of simultaneous neural interconnections rather than a serial process of one rule being applied, then another and so on. (ii) refutation of the generative rule-governed model: generative rules in a linguistic sense are not connected serially, with one connection between each pair of neurons in the brain (e) Contributions of Nativism: (i) able to explore the unseen, observable, underlying, abstract linguistic structures being developed in the child (ii) systematic description of the child’s linguistic repertoire as either rule-governed or operating out of parallel distributed processing capacities (iii) the construction of a number of potential properties of UG
Theories of L1 acquisition (3) Functional Approaches (language use and cognitive/affective domains by constructivism) (a) Two emphases: • Seeing language as one manifestation of the cognitive and affective ability to deal with the world, with others and with the self. (ii) Nativism as being unable to deal with the deeper levels of meaning of language constructed from social interaction but with the forms of language.
(b) cognition and language development: • Lois Bloom (1971): children learn underlying structures and not superficial word order as shown in pivot grammar, depending on the social context (ii) Jean Piaget (1969): what children know (cognition development) will determine what they learn about the code for both speaking and understanding messages (language development) (iii) Dan Slobin (1971): in all languages, semantic learning depends on cognitive development and that sequences of development are determined more by semantic complexity, than by structural complexity-> schema of cognition on the functional level and schema of grammar on the formal level
(c) social interaction and language development (i) Holzman (1984): a reciprocal model -> a reciprocal system operates between the language – developing infant-child and the competenc adult language user in a socializing-teaching-nurturing role (ii) Berko Gleason (1988) & Lock (1991): the interaction between language acquisition and learning of social systems (iii) Budwig (1995) & Kuczaj (1984): the function of language in discourse (relations between sentences) in terms of conversational cues
Part I L1 Acquisition 2. Issues in L1 acquisition (1) -Competence: one’s underlying knowledge of the system of a language - Performance: actual production (speaking, writing) or the comprehension (listening, reading) of linguistic events Criticism: (i) competence defined by Chomsky consists of the abilities of an idealized hearer-speaker, devoid of any performance variables (ii) dualism are unnecessary and the only option for linguists is to study language in use (by Firth and Halliday) (iii) heterogeneous competence by Tarone: that all of a child’s skps and hesitations and self-corrections are potentially connected to
(2)Comprehension & production (i) comprehension and production can be aspects of both competence and performance. (ii) Production competence = comprehension competence? (iii) Superiority of production over comprehension? (3) Nature or nurture?-> what’s predetermined and what’s learned? (i) Nativism: universal innateness in all human beings (the LAD or UG) (ii) Environmental factors also matter
(4)Universals (a) language is universally acquired in the same manner (b) the deep structure of language at its deepest level may be common to all languages. (c) Universal linguistic categories e.g. word order, morphological marking tone, agreement… (d) Principles & parameters of UG: (i) a child’s initial state is supposed to consist of a set of universal principles (e.g. structure dependency) which specify some limited possibilities of variation, so-called parameters which need to be fixed in one of a few possible ways. -> a child’s task of language learning is manageable because of certain naturally occurring constraints (ii) language cannot vary in endless ways since parameters determine ways in which language can vary. E.g head parameter (English- head first; Japanese head last)
(5) Systematicity: the systematicity of the acquisition process in inferring the phonological, structural, lexical, and semantic system of language Variability: variability in the process of learning; to determine what is variable maybe systematic (6) Language and thought: language interacts simultaneously with thoughts and feelings (a) Jerome Bruner (1966): words shape concepts (b) Vygotsky (1962, 1978): social interaction, through language, is a prerequisite to cognitive development (zone of proximal development- the distance between a child’s actual cognitive capacity and the level of potential development) (c) Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: Language affects thought-> each language imposes on its speaker a particular world view
(7) Imitation: (a) surface imitation as a strategy in early language learning as supported by behaviorism (b) deep imitation: true value in meaningful semantic level- the deep structure of language e.g. children often repeat the correct underlying deep structure with a change in the surface rendition (8) Practice: frequency of stimuli (unimportant to Nativists) + importance of words -> key to language acquisition (9) Input: adult and peer input to children seen not as important as the influence of LAD to explain how children acquire language successfully by nativists but in fact ungrammatical input is largely ignored and finally transfer correct forms to speech
(10) Discourse(by social constructivists) (a) interaction rather than exposure is required for successful language acquisition (b) Sinclair and Culthard (1975): to examine conversations in terms of initiations and responses; literal meaning is not necessarily the same as intended meaning • 3. mistakes in drawing direct analogies between first and second language acquisition(Ausubel) • (1) rote learning practice lacks meaningfulness necessary for language learning • (2) adults learning a foreign language could benefit from learning grammar deductively • (3) L1 is not just an interfering factor • (4) The written form of the language could be beneficial • (5) Students could be overwhelmed by language spoken at its natural speed
1. Age and acquisition (1) the Critical Period Hypothesis ( a biological timetable for language acquisition) -- Assumption: a biologically determined period of life when language can be acquired more easily and beyond which time language is increasingly difficult to acquire (2) Neurological considerations (a) hemispheric lateralization (i) as the human brain matures, certain functions are assigned or lateralized to one side of hemisphere. (ii)The left brain: intellectual, logical and analytic; the right brain: emotional and social (iii) research question: when lateralization takes place and how it affects language acquisitio --- Lenneberg (1967): lateralization begins around age 2 and is completed around puberty --- Thomas Scovel (1969): Learning a L2 as well as L1 should be prior to puberty plasiticity especially for nativelike (authentic) pronunciation (iv) Unresolved time of lateralization: five or puberty
(b) biological timetables: support for the acquisition of an authentic accent on a neurologically basis, not for that of higher order processes or communicative fluency (i) a socio-biological critical period by Thomas Scovel (1988)- the development of a socially bonding accent at puberty, enabling species ---- to form an identify with their own community as they anticipate roles of parenting and leadership ---- to attract mates of their own kind to maintain their own species (ii) different aspects of a L2 are learned optimally at different ages by Walsh and Diller (1981)-lower-order processes e.g. pronunciation depending on early maturing and less adaptive macroneural circuits
(c) right-hemispheric participation (i) Obler (1981): the active role of the right brain in SLA or strategies of acquisition e.g. guessing at meanings, use of formulaic utterances (ii) Genessee (1982): greater involvement of the right hemisphere in bilinguals particularly for adult learners (d) anthropological evidence: against Scovel’s age-related view (i) some adult learners’ success in language learning (ii) motivation, affective variables, social factors and the quality of input also important in explaining advantage of the child * the significance of accent: --- for the critical period: from phonology, much muscular control is required to be fluent in authentic L2 so children easily achieve it --- against the critical period: fluency over accuracy in pronunciation; how people have accomplished beyond phonological factors
(3) Cognitive considerations (a) intellectual development (Piaget) (i) three stages: sensorimotor stage (>2); preoperational stage (2-7); operational stage (7- 16)(concrete operational stage 7-11; formal operational stage 11-16) (ii) for the critical period: at puberty, one is capable of abstraction by Piaget; benefits of deductive thinking for adult learners by Ausubel (b) affective, rather than cognitive factors, that facilitate adult learners’ second language acquisition (i) adults are aware of their learning and can use strategies to help themselves to be successful (ii) dominance of the left hemisphere after puberty contributes to a tendency to overanalyze and to be too intellectually centered on SLA
(c) equilibration: cognition develops as a process of moving from states of doubt and uncertainty to stages of resolution and certainty; from disequilibrium (which provides motivation for language learning: language interacts with cognition to achieve equilibrium) to equilibrium (d) rote and meaningful learning: learning must be related to existing knowledge and experience; foreign language classroom should not become the locus of excessive rote activity (4) Affective considerations: empathy, self-esteem, extroversion, inhibition, anxiety, attitudes (a) egocentricity: esp for children (b) language ego by Alexander Guiora (1972): (i) the identify a person develops in reference to the language he or she speaks (ii) children’s ego is dynamic and flexible so learning a new language is not a threat to the ego; adults’ is protective and defensive (iii) successful learning- one’s language ego must be strong enough to overcome inhibitions
(c) identity: affective inhibitions of children and adults; a second identity (d) attitudes: advantage of young children whose attitudes towards races, cultures, classes of people haven’t been developed (e) peer pressure: children’s strong constraints upon them to conform; adults tolerate linguistic differences more than children (5) Linguistic considerations (a) Bilingualism (i) two kinds of bilinguals --- coordinate bilinguals: two meaning systems learned from different language contexts --- compound bilinguals: one meaning system from which both language operate (ii) code-switching of most bilinguals: the act of inserting words, phrases, or even longer stretches of one language into the other, especially when communicating with another bilingual (iii) a considerable benefit of early childhood bilingualism: bilingual children are more facile at concept formation and have a greater mental flexibility
(b) interference between L1 and L2: usually not in young children (c) interference in adults: not necessarily since adults manifest errors not unlike some of the errors children make as the result of creative perception of the second language (d) order of acquisition: (i) focus on morphemes by Dulay and Burt --- methodological arguments, lack of generalizability (ii) the myth of “the younger, the better” by Scovel: adults can benefit from literacy, vocabulary, pragmatics, schematic knowledge, and even syntax plane
2. Human learning (1) Classical Behaviorism by Pavlov: respondent conditioning that is concerned with respondent behavior that is elicited by a preceding stimulus (2) Operant Conditioning by Skinner: operant behavior is one in which one operates on the environment; a concern about the consequences that follow the response (3) Meaningful Learning Theory by Ausubel: learning takes place in a meaningful process of relating new events or items to already existing cognitive concepts (i) any learning situation can be meaningful if: learners have a meaningful learning set and the learning task itself is potentially meaningful to the learners (ii) a meaningfully learned, subsumed item has greater potential for retention (iii) forgetting is a second stage of subsumption for --- an economical reason through cognitive pruning where a single inclusive concept than a large number of more specific items is retained --- language attribution: the strength and conditions of initial learning; motivation; use of a L2
(iv) strengths of subsumption theory: the disadvantage of rote memory in language learning; systematic forgetting; shift of the goal to communicative competence (4) Humanistic Psychology by Rogers: constructivism by highlighting the social and interactive nature of learning in the affective domain (i) the whole person as a physical, cognitive, and emotional being (ii) learning how to learn (iii) teachers as facilitators of learning through the establishment of interpersonal relationships with learners and genuine trust and empathy (iv) a climate of nondefensive learning (v) empowerment of students, not banking
3.Transfer, interference, and overgeneralization (6) A more correct explication: The interaction of previously learned material with a present learning event (7) Transfer: positive transfer and negative transfer (interference, usually L1-> L2, & overgeneralization L1-> L1 or L2 -> L2) (8) All generalizing involves transfer and all transfer involves generalizing. 4.Inductive and deductive reasoning (1) Inductive reasoning: one stores a number of specific instances and induces a general rule or conclusion that governs the specific instances (e.g. classroom learning) (2) Deductive reasoning: a movement from a generalization to specific instances (3) Gestalt learning: perception of the whole before the parts
5. Schema Theory (By Bartlett, 1932 ) (1) To explain how the language that we have about the world is organized into interrelated patterns based on our previous knowledge and experience. These “schemata” also allow us to predict what may happen in future context. (2) Efficient readers can relate texts to their background knowledge of the world. (3) The process of interpretation is guided by the principle that every input is mapped against one existing schema and that all aspects of that schema must be compatible with the input information. This principle results in two modes of information processing, called bottom-up and top-town. (4) Both processing should be occurring at all levels simultaneously. (5)bottom-up processing: (i) It is evoked by the incoming data, the features of the data enter the system through the best fitting, bottom-level schemata. Schemata are hierarchically organized, from most general at the top to most specific at the bottom. When these bottom-level schemata converge into higher level, more general schemata, these too become activated. Bottom-up processing is thus data-driven.
(ii) The data that are needed to instantiate or fill out make schemata become available through bottom-up processing. • (iii) This processing ensures that listeners or readers will be • sensitive to information that is novel or that doesn’t fit their • ongoing hypotheses about the content or structure of the text. • (6) top-down processing • (i) It occurs as the system makes general predictions based on higher level, general schemata and then searches the input for information to fit into these partially satisfies, higher order schemata. It is conceptually driven. • (ii) It facilitates the data’s assimilation if they are anticipated by or consistent with the listeners or readers’ conceptual expectations. • (iii) It helps learners resolve ambiguities or select between alternative possible interpretations of the incoming data.
6. Styles and strategies • Learning styles • field independence/field dependence styles:
* significance 1. FI and FD are not in complementary distribution within an individual 2. Both styles are important 3. to assume a person’s general inclinations in a given context with an appropriate style
(c) ambiguity tolerance: to predict academic success • definition: how much one tolerates ideas and propositions opposing to one’s belief system (ii) with ambiguity tolerance-> free to entertain innovative and creative possibilities and not be disturbed by uncertainty (iii) too much ambiguity tolerance-> prevent meaningful subsumption of ideas due to wishy-washy tendency (iv) no ambiguity tolerance->rigid, dogmatic mind • (d) reflectivity and impulsivity • More patience for a reflective learner, • fewer judgments on mistakes made by an impulsive learner.
(e) visual and auditory styles * Successful learners utilize both visual and auditory input • (2) Strategies (refer to Oxford’s strategy classification system, 1990) • (a) Learning strategies: to take in messages (input) from others • (i) good language learners by Rubin and Stern (1975) in terms of personal characteristics, styles, and strategies
(iii) indirect learning strategies: metacognitive, affective and social; direct learning strategies- memory, cognitive and compensation. * usefulness of adopting learning strategies in language learning -> strategies-based instruction (SBI) (about how to learn) and autonomous self-help training 1. be aware of one’s style, preferences and the strategies 2. practice successful strategies 3. practice compensatory strategies 4. strategy instruction in the textbook
(b) Communication strategies: how one expresses meanings; deliver messages to others especially when communication is deterred from reaching its goal • avoidance strategies: message abandonment, topic avoidance, lexical, syntactic, and phonological avoidance (ii) compensatory strategies (part of strategic competence)circumlocution , approximation, use of all-purpose words, word coinage, prefabricated patterns, nonlinguistic signals, literal translation, foreignizing, code-switching appeal for help, stalling/time-gaining strategies
7. Personality factors (1) the affective domain (a) self-esteem: a personal judgment of worthiness that’s expressed in the attitudes that individuals hold towards themselves; related to one’s willingness to communicate in a foreign languag (i) general or global self-esteem - a median level of overall self-appraisal -stable in a mature adult so resistant to change over time and across situations (ii) situational or specific self-esteem - one’s self-appraisals in particular life situations e.g. home, work, athletic ability, and personality traits (iii) task self-esteem - particular tasks within specific situation e.g. one subject matter area in the educational domain
(b) Inhibition: sets of defenses to protect the ego (i) language ego by Guiora (1972) and Ehrman (1996): occurs when identity conflict as language learners take on a new identity with their newly acquired competence (ii) higher self-esteem + adaptive language ego-> lower inhibition (c) risk-taking: ability to make intelligent guesses; impulsivity (i) Being willing to take risks doesn’t necessarily contributes to success since not necessarily accurate guesses (ii) Willing and accurate guesses, high motivation and self-esteem are also factors of learner success (iii) Lack of willingness to take risks-> fossilization
(d) Anxiety • (i) trait anxiety (permanent predisposition to be anxious)/ state anxiety (situationally anxious)-> language anxiety • (ii) debilitative(harmful anxiety)/ • facilitative anxiety (helpful anxiety e.g. concern over a task to be accomplished-> competitiveness) • (iii) three components of language anxiety: • 1. communication apprehension • 2. fear of negative social evaluation • 3. test anxiety
(e) Empathy: the process of putting oneself into some else’s shoes usually through language (i) transactional variables to SLA: imitation, modeling, identification, empathy, extroversion, aggression, styles of communication (ii) “empathy” is more detachment from others; “sympathy” is an agreement between individuals. (iii) two aspects to the development and exercising of empathy 1. an awareness and knowledge of one’s feelings 2. identification with another person (to know oneself first)
(f) Extroversion: the extent to which a person has a deep-seated need to receive ego enhancement, self-esteem, and a sense of wholeness from others (i) introversion: the extent to which a person derives a sense of wholeness and fulfillment apart from a reflection of this self from other people (ii) introverted≠ passive; extroverted≠bright and empathetic (iii) extroversion as a factor in developing oral communicative competence
(2) motivation: (a) three views of motivation:
(b) instrumental/integrative orientations (Robert Gardner & MacIntyre, 1991): converted from instrumental and integrative motivations (i) Instrumental orientation (usually from extrinsic motivation): acquiring a language as a means for attaining instrumental goals; academic or career-related (ii) Integrative orientations (from intrinsic motivation) (weaker than assimilative orientation by Graham, 1984): learners wish to integrate themselves into the culture of the second language group; socially or culturally oriented (iii) Implications: no single means of learning a L2; the two orientations are not necessarily mutually exclusive
8. Sociocultural factors (1) stereotypes/ overgeneralizations: (a) Reality is perceived through one’s cultural pattern? - too oversimplified (b) Our cultural milieu shapes our world view (how do stereotypes form)? (c) Stereotype-thinking towards a culture and people in it can be accurate in depicting the typical member of a culture but not for particular individuals so cultural differences need to be understood. (2) Attitudes: implied by stereotyping toward the culture or language; developed in early childhood and be the result of parents’ and peers’ attitudes (a) group-specific attitude-> an integrative orientation (b) positive attitudes-> enhance proficiency (c) negative attitudes-> positive by direct exposure to reality
(3) second culture acquisition (a) culture learning: a process of perceiving, interpreting, feeling, and being in the world; to create shared meaning between cultural representatives (b) acculturation: the process learners adapt to the target language culture and acquire the L2 usually during the recovery stage the tourist stage the empty stage (culture shock) the recovery stage (culture stress) the acceptance stage (adaptation)) (c) culture shock: 1. phenomena ranging from mild irritability to deep psychological panic and crisis 2. a profound cross-cultural learning experience which takes place when one examines the degree to which one’s influenced by his own culture and understands the culturally derived values, attitudes, and outlooks of other people