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Second Language Acquisition . Lec s . 4 & 5. Linguistics, Psychological Theories, & SLA . Second language acquisition (SAL) Second language acquisition research focuses on the developing knowledge and use of a language by children & adults who know at least one language.

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linguistics psychological theories sla
Linguistics, Psychological Theories, & SLA
  • Second language acquisition (SAL)
  • Second language acquisition research focuses on the developing knowledge and use of a language by children & adults who know at least one language.
  • Understanding how languages are learned will lead to more effective teaching practices.
first language acquisition second language acquisition
First Language Acquisition & Second Language Acquisition
  • Second-language acquisition or second-language learning is the process by which people learn a second language. Second-language acquisition (often abbreviated to SLA) is also the name of the scientific discipline devoted to studying that process. Second language refers to any language learned in addition to a person's first language; although the concept is named second language acquisition, it can also incorporate the learning of third, fourth or subsequent languages.[1] Second-language acquisition refers to what learners do; it does not refer to practices in language teaching.(
acquisition l2
Acquisition & L2
  • L2 may be learned
  • simultaneously with L1, or
  • successively with L1 (Childhood/ adolescence/ adulthood)

L2 may be learned in

  • L1 environment (Instruction)
  • L2 environment (verbal contact with native speakers)
acquisition or learning krashen 1981
Acquisition or Learning?Krashen (1981)



Conscious process of studying it

Formal setting

  • Subconscious process of picking up a language through exposure
  • Contact with natives
research in sla
Research in SLA
  • Attempts have been made to answer the following question:
  • How do individuals acquire an L2?
  • What are the different thoughts & premises that have been offered in order to explain the process of SLA?
  • What needs to be taught in L2 classes?
approaches to the study of sla
Approaches to the study of SLA
  • The behavioristic approach
  • The cognitive/ psychological approach
  • The creative construction approach
  • The sociological approach
historical perspective
Historical Perspective
  • 1950s pedagogic (the teacher)
  • 1970s  pedagogic (the learner)
  • External factors  internal factors
  • Mental grammar processes of the speaker, NOT the linguistic structure
  • Why?
  • Research in linguistics, psychology, & L1 acquisition
  • The need to understand the mechanisms underlying SLA.
  • Are these mechanisms similar to those involved in FLA?
1 the b ehavioristic approach
1. The Behavioristic Approach
  • (Skinner, 1957)

SLA is a process of imitation & reinforcement

  • (Lado, 1957)

The acquisition of L2 is essentially a task of overcoming the L1 habits & learning (in their place) the habits of the L2. Only the different elements between L1 & L2 are to be learned.

1 the behavioristic approach contrastive analysi s
1. The Behavioristic Approach & Contrastive Analysis
  • Positive vs. negative transfer (Arabic & English)

I’m going to home

In my way to home

This is the house I live in it

Openthe light & close the light

To drive a plane

1 the behavioristic approach contrastive analysis
1. The Behavioristic Approach & Contrastive Analysis
  • To identify the structural similarities & difference between languages
  • The findings will aid in planning the language-teaching materials
  • The main aim of behavioristic teaching is to (i) form new correct linguistic habits through intensive practice, & (ii) eliminate errors in the process of SLA
critical evaluation of the behavioristic approach
Critical evaluation of the behavioristic approach
  • The learning process is more complex than imitation & habit-formation.
  • Transfer alone doesn’t fulfill the function of explaining the learner’s behavior in the L2.
  • L2 learners know that certain features of their L1 are less likely to be transferable than others (idiomatic expressions).
2 cognitive psychological approach
2. Cognitive / Psychological Approach
  • Cognitive factors involve the mechanics of how an individual acquires something.
  • SLA = the acquisition of a complex cognitive skill (sub-skills)
  • A complex cognitive skill /

Performance A (pattern) + Performance B (tense) = Fluent Performance

a part skill full skill
A. Part skill & full skill
  • E.g. learning to express a communicative function (may I …)  sub-skill
  • To take part in a conversation  a whole skill
b restructuring
B. Restructuring
  • There is an interaction between the element the learner is learning & the knowledge he has already acquired
  • This may restructure the system (language) the learner has or acquires
  • An L2 learner’s performance improves & develops through constant reorganizing & restructuring of information contained in this system.
  • An L2 learner will simplify & unify linguistic information, & gain increasing control of language performance.
3 creative construction hypothesis
3. Creative Construction Hypothesis
  • Chomsky & SLA
  • What is the creative construction hypothesis ?
  • The learner constructs a series of internal representations of the L2 system which result from natural processing strategies:

(generalization, transfer, exposure to the L2 in communication situations)

creative construction approach
Creative Construction Approach
  • The analysis of learners’ errors at various points in their SLA
  • The order in which certain structures are acquired

INPUT  OPERATION OF INTERNAL PROCESSING STRATEGEIS / (not the learner’s attempts to produce the language)

SLA takes place internally via HEARING & READING not SPEAKING & WRITING

krashen the monitor model creative construction hypothesis
Krashen & the monitor model (creative construction hypothesis)
  • The acquisition-learning hypothesis
  • The monitor hypothesis
  • The natural order hypothesis
  • The input hypothesis
  • The effective filter hypothesis
a the acquisition learning hypothesis
a. The acquisition-learning hypothesis



The processing of language input provided by explicit teaching of grammatical rules

It is knowing the rules; having a conscious knowledge about grammar

  • The processing of language input provided by information
b the monitor hypothesis
b. The monitor hypothesis
  • Monitor is a device that learners use to edit their own language performance by modifying utterances which are generated from the acquired knowledge (competence)
  • It occurs just before or after an utterance
  • BUT, there are 3 conditions
  • Some knowledge of the acquired rule
  • Sufficient time
  • The learner’s attention  location + nature of the grammatical form
c t he natural order hypothesis
c. The natural-order hypothesis
  • Language learners acquire properties of an L2 in a predictable order through a series of common transitional stages in moving towards target/ 2nd language forms
  • Exception: morphemes & conjunctions
d the input hypothesis
d. The input hypothesis
  • Input is the most important factor in SLA; it affects the progress of the learner in learning the L2.
  • The characteristics of comprehensible input:
  • Comprehensive
  • Adequate to the level of learners
  • Clear (pronunciation + grammar)
e the affective filter hypothesis
e. The affective filter hypothesis
  • Non-linguistic factors affecting SLA
the sociological approach or acculturation model
The Sociological Approach, ORACCULTURATION Model
  • The focus in the late 1970s & early 1980s  the social context of the adult SLA
  • Acculturation  the process of becoming adapted to the culture of the new or 2nd language
  • understanding of the system of thoughts, beliefs, emotions, & system of communication of the new culture
  • Degree of adaptation to L2 = extent of competence acquired in L2
social distance psychological distance
social distance & psychological distance
  • Learners of L2 Social distance  native speakers of L2
  • Development towards L2 is dependent on the level of social distance between the learner & native speakers of L2
  • Social distance & the acquisition of Grammar
  • Learners of L2 psychological distance  native speakers of L2
  • Psycho. Distance results from various affective factors concerning the learner as an individual
  • Resolution of language shock, culture shock, stress, integrated vs. instrumental motivation
4 the sociological approach or acculturation model
4. The Sociological Approach, ORACCULTURATION Model
  • This model explains why L2 learners often fail to develop/ achieve native-like competence due to social and/ or psychological factors