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Explaining Second Language Learning I. Behaviourism Universal Grammar- an innatist perspective Krashen‘s „monitor model“ Cognitivist/developmental perspective Information processing Connectionism The competition model. Behaviourism. Second language applications: Mimicry and memorization

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Explaining Second Language Learning I

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explaining second language learning i
Explaining Second Language Learning I
  • Behaviourism
  • Universal Grammar- an innatist perspective
  • Krashen‘s „monitor model“
  • Cognitivist/developmental perspective
    • Information processing
    • Connectionism
    • The competition model


Second language applications:

Mimicry and memorization

·Audiolingual methods

·Transfer of habits

audiolingual methods
Audiolingual methods
  • -Based on behaviour psychology
  • -New material presented in form of dialogue: How are you? I’m fine, thank you.
  • -Language learning is habit formation
audiolingual methods1
Audiolingual methods
  • -Students are dependent on mimicry, memorization of set phrases and over-learning
  • -Structural patterns are taught by using repetitive drills: the student repeats the utterance adding a few words. I used to know. I use to know him. I use to know him years ago when we were in school…
audiolingual methods2
Audiolingual methods
  • -Little or no grammatical explanations
  • -Vocabulary strictly limited and learned in context
  • -Successful responses are reinforced (praise,…)
  • -Great care is taken to prevent learner errors
transfer of habits
Transfer of habits
  • similarities of vocabulary that can influence the second language
  • Transfer structures of the first language to the second language
  • Translate word by word from the first language
universal grammar
Universal Grammar
  • Innate linguistic knowledge, which consists of a set of principles common to all languages
  • Chomsky: children can acquire every language during a critical period of their development >mainly used for first language acquisition
hypothesis of the critical period
Hypothesis of the critical period
  • Learning a language after the adolescence is more difficult
  • Adults that learn a second language show some type of deficit (coverall in phonetics and phonology)
universal grammar in l2
Universal Grammar in L2
  • Lydia White: cannot acquire full mastery, but there is still a „logical problem“
  • “logical problem“: knowledge which cannot be acquired by the input
  • Conditions for checking:
    • No acquisition by simple observation of L2 input
    • Phenomenon should work differently in L1 and L2
universal grammar in l21
Universal Grammar in L2
  • Effect of formal instructions on acquisition:

-change only in superficial appearance

  • Language acquisition based on availability of natural language in learner‘s environment
  • L2 learners need sometimes explicit grammatical information >errors of L1 transfer
  • Grammaticality judgements
krashen s monitor model
Krashen’s “monitor model”

Based in fivehypoteses:

  • Acquisition-learning hypothesis:

ACQUISITION: itisanautomaticprocess (liketheassimilationprocess of maternal language)

Example: immigrants, who arrive at a different country, acquire the local language only with errors.

LEARNING: the individual is able to explain the existing rules in the language (conscious process)

krashen s monitor model1
Krashen’s “monitor model”
  • The monitor hypothesis:


It is possible with these conditions:a) the speaker needs to want to correct himself.b) the speaker mustknowthe rules.

krashen s monitor model2
Krashen’s “monitor model”
  • Natural order hypothesis:

Directlyrelatedtotheacquisition and nottothelearning.

Order of the acquisition of rules in the second language

Some rules are assimilatedbeforeothers

Orderisnotnecessarilythesame in thefirst and secondlanguage

krashen s monitor model3
Krashen’s “monitor model”
  • Input hypothesis:

The acquisition only occurs when there is a linguistical challenge

  • Affective filter hypothesis:

Affectreferstofeelings, motives, needs, attitudes and emotinalstates

If these states affect the learner the input will be unavailable for acquisition


Influenced teaching ideas that focus on meaning of language, rather than on simple memorization

    • Communicative Language Teaching, including Immersion Programs with content-based instructions
      • Emphasis on meaning, rather than on grammar or pronunciation
      • Learning to communicate through interaction in target language

Progress without direct instructions possible

  • Students can get to a point where guided instructions are necessary for further progress
cognitivist developmental perspective
Cognitivist/developmental perspective
  • Central role in research in second language acquisition since 1990s
  • Computer as metaphor for the mind
  • No specific module for language acquisition >contradict the innate perspective
  • UG for L1 acquisition, but not for L2

>no provable success for innate perspective

information processing
Information processing
  • Building up of knowledge, which is accessable when necessary
  • Beginning of learning process: have to pay attention to every aspect of language
  • “pay attention“: use cognitive resources to process information
  • Attention limit
information processing1
Information processing
  • Aspects become automatic through practice
  • Proficient learners: context
  • Non-proficient learners: single words
  • “practice“: production, exposure to, comprehension of language
information processing2
Information processing
  • “skill learning“ (J.R. Anderson, Robert DeKeyser)
  • Declarative Knowledge: knowledge that
    • Factual information stored in memory
    • Example: knowledge that Washington D.C. is

the capital of America

information processing3
Information processing
  • Procedural Knowledge: knowledge how
    • Knowledge of how to perform, how to operate
    • Example: Knowledge how to drive a car

>comparable to kind of learning in class room

information processing4
Information processing
  • „restructuring“: changes in language behaviour > sudden burst of progress or backsliding
  • Example: saw + -ed > sawed
transfer appropriate processing
Transfer appropriate processing
  • Information best retrieved in situation similar to the one during acquisition
  • Memories record context and way of how something was learned
  • Example: knowledge from drill/rule learning easier to access in non-communicative situations
  • Based on stimulus- answer
  • Mental processingdependsondeveloping and usingtheconnections in themind.
  • Learning is a way to modify the behaviour (reinforcement of the wanted conduct)The wanted conduct cannot be modified using the basic principles of modification of conduct.
  • Technical to eliminate conducts not wanted in the student:
  • 1. Reinforcement of the wanted conducts

2. Debilitate the wanted conducts 3. thetechnique of " saturation" : repetitivewayuntilthe individual feelsindifferent of thebehavior.4. Changing the stimulus that influences the individual to take another answer to this stimulus.5. Using punishments to debilitate the conduct not wanted

the competition model
  • Elizabeth Bates and Brian MacWhinney developed an explanation how monolingual speakers interpret the sentences
  • Languages emphasize speech: intonation, vocabulary, word order or inflections
  • If the speaker cannot consider some of these factors he will have problems with the understanding of the language
the competition model1
The competition model
  • Languageshavetheirownsignals
  • English has strictstructureslike SVO

English: Sheisgoingtothebeachthisafternoon.

Spanish: Ella se va a la playa esta tarde.

Italian: Lei va allaspiagaquestopomeriggio.

the competition model2
The competition model
  • Italian or Spanish have flexible grammar
  • Subject can beomitted
  • Order of thewords can change (VO/ VOS)

Spanish: Se va a la playa esta tarde. Esta tarde se va a la playa ella.

(isgoingtothebeachthisafternoon/ Thisafternoonisgoingtobeachshe)

Italian: Va allaspiagaquestopomeriggio. Questopomeriggio va allaspiaga.

the competition model3
The competition model
  • Nativesrecognizethesubject of thesentence
  • Nativesconcludewiththereasonableinterpretation

Spanish: El cerdo quiere al campesino. El campesino quiere el cerdo.

(Thepigwantsthefarmer/ Thefarmerwantsthepig.)

  • For non-native speakers this sentence is confusing.
the competition model4
The competition model
  • Fourcluesthathelpustoknowthe true subject

Word order:English SVO/ Spanish SVO/ VO/VOS.

Agreement: subjectagreeswiththeverb: English “He lives”

Case: thenounisthemostimportantcluetothesubject: German “IchliebeBier”.

Animacy: subject has to be someone or something that is alive.

  • Krashen‘s Monitor Hypothesis:

Do you think that a learner can correct himself while he is learning a new language?