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Second Language Acquisition. Yueh-chiu Helen Wang National Penghu University. The Definition of Language.

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second language acquisition

Second Language Acquisition

Yueh-chiu Helen Wang

National Penghu University

the definition of language
The Definition of Language
  • A language is considered to be a system of communicating with other people using sounds, symbols and words in expressing a meaning, idea or thought. This language can be used in many forms, primarily through oral and written communications as well as using expressions through body language.
Communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice, sounds, gestures, or written symbols.
  • Such a system, including its rules for combining its components such as words.
Such a system as used by a nation, people, or other distinct community, often contrasted with dialect.
  • Body language; kinesics
  • Verbal communication
the definition of critical period
The Definition of Critical Period
  • It is a term used in biology to refer to a limited phase in the development of an organism during which a particular activity or competency must be acquired if it is to be incorporated into the behavior of that organism.
strong version
Strong version
  • It may imply that even if language acquisition begins within the critical period it does not continue beyond the end of that period.
weak version
weak version
  • The earlier language learning begins after the onset of the critical period the more efficient it will be, and that beyond a certain point language learning potential declines markedly even if it does not disappear entirely.
critical period hypothesis cph
Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH)
  • Lenneberg (1967) interprets critical period is to be seen as beginning around this age of two years: Language cannot begin to develop until a certain level of physical maturation and growth has been attained. Between the ages of two and three years language emerges by an interaction of maturation and self-programmed learning (p.158).
Current evidence suggests that there is no stage in the infant’s development when language is not in the process of being acquired.
The general notion that caregiver-child shared activity prepares the ground for and is continuous with the development of linguistic interaction incontrovertible.
  • The shared activity commences as soon as the child emerges from the womb.
the end of the critical period
The end of the critical period
  • The age most posited as the upper limit of the critical period is the early teens, the stage at which childhood is ending and adolescence, with the onset of puberty, beginning.
Taking the examples of ‘Genies’ case and a wild boy of Victor’s case.
  • Genie was physically punished by the father if she made any sounds. According to the mother, the father and older brother never spoke to Genie although they barked at her like dogs. The mother was forbidden to
spend more than a few minutes with Genie during feeding. (Fromkin et al. 1974). Nevertheless, her phonological development approximated to that of normal children. As far as syntax is concerned, Genie learned to combine words in three-and four-word strings and to produce negative sentences.
Broadly, her progress in the acquisition of language though slower than is usual, parallelled that of normal English-speaking children. She can actually understand and produce speech, whereas Victor’s communication through language was all but confined to the written medium.
Genie’s language development has been interpreted as evidence both for and against the critical period hypothesis.
  • Genie represents a case of first-language acquisition after the critical age of puberty.
To be sure, her development is laborious and incomplete, but the similarities between it and normal acquisition outweigh the differences.
  • Penfield & Roberts (1959) report that children are normally able to re-learn language when injury or disease damages speech areas in the dominant
Hemisphere, whereas speech recovery in adults is much more problematic, and that whereas in young children the speech mechanism is frequently transferred with complete success from the injured dominant hemisphere to the healthy minor hemisphere, such transfers do not seem to occur in the case of adults.
Lenneberg’s conclusion is that the relevant neurological development must be completed by around age five.
  • Vocabulary development continues in a natural, almost unnoticed fashion as long as one lives and is interested in new things.
The evidence most frequently cited in support of the claim that a critical period of ‘language readiness’ begins around age two, which comes from the language development of deaf children, is susceptible to an alternative interpretation.
Other evidence strongly indicates that language acquisition is a continuous process which begins at birth.
  • First language acquisition continues well into adulthood and even, at least in some of its aspects, into middle and old age.
With regard to the weaker version of the critical period hypothesis, i.e. the notion that language learning capacity peaks early in childhood and thereafter declines.
krashen s five hypotheses
Krashen’s Five Hypotheses
  • 1. The Acquisition-learning Hypothesis
  • 2. The Monitor Hypothesis
  • 3. The Natural Order Hypothesis
  • 4. The Input Hypothesis
  • 5. The Affective Filter Hypothesis
The Acquisition-learning Hypothesis: *Acquisition is a ‘subconscious process identical in all important ways to the process children utilize, in acquiring their first language.
*Learning is a conscious process that results in “knowing about” language (1985).
  • Acquisition comes about through meaningful interaction in a natural communication setting.
the monitor hypothesis
The Monitor Hypothesis
  • The Monitor Hypothesis states that ‘Learning has only one function, and that is as a Monitor or editor’ and that learning comes into play only to ‘make changes in the form of our utterance.
Krashen’s position is that conscious knowledge of rules does not help acquisition, but only enables the learner to ‘polish up’ what has been acquired through communication.
three conditions for monitor use
three conditions for monitor use
  • (1) Time: In order to think about and use conscious rules effectively, a second language performer needs to have sufficient time.
(2) Focus on form: To use monitor effectively, time is not enough. The performer must also be focused on form, or thinking about correctness.
(3) Know the rule: We can be sure that our students are exposed only to a small part of the total grammar of the language, and we know that even the best students do not learn every rule they are exposed to (Krashen, 1982, p.6).
three types of monitor users
Three types of Monitor users
  • Over-users: These are people who attempt to monitor all the time, performers who are constantly checking their output with their conscious knowledge of the second language.
Under-users: These are performers who have not learned, or if they have learned, prefer not to use their conscious knowledge, even when conditions allow it. Under-users are typically uninfluenced by error correction, can self-correct only by using a ‘feel’ for correctness.
The optimal users: Performers who use the monitor when it is appropriate and when it does not interfere with communication. Many optimal users will not use grammar in ordinary conversation, where it might interfere….(1982, p.19-20)
3 the natural order hypothesis
3. The Natural Order Hypothesis
  • The hypothesis states that we acquire the rules of language in a predictable order, some rules tending to come early and others late (Krashen, 1985, p.1).
4 the input hypothesis
4. The Input Hypothesis
  • This hypothesis states that 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).
5 the affective filter hypothesis
5. The Affective Filter Hypothesis
  • According to this hypothesis, comprehensible input may not be utilized by second-language acquirers if there is a ‘mental block’ that prevents from them fully profiting from it (Krashen, 1985).
The affective filter acts as a barrier to acquisition: If the filter is ‘down’, the input reaches the LAD and becomes acquired competence; if the filter is up, the input is blocked and does not reach the LAD.
The filter is that part of the internal processing system that subconsciously incoming language based on what psychologists call ‘affect’: the learner’s motives, needs, attitudes, and emotional states ((1982, p. 46).
It determines which language models the learner will select.
  • It determines which part of the language will be attended to first.
  • It determines when the language acquisition efforts should cease.
  • It determines how fast a learner can acquire a language.
universal grammar ug
Universal Grammar (UG)
  • The Chomskyan generative grammar approach assumes that the first-language learner comes to the acquisition task with innate, specifically linguistic, knowledge, or Universal Grammar.
The claim is that certain principles of the human mind are, to a degree, biologically determined and specialized for language learning.