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What?. Second Language Acquisition.2. Roml 700 Fall 2012. I know what this is!. But what are we supposed to do with it?. BUT…. “Helping Learners to learn does not require an understanding of SLA phenomena.” ICoSLA (International Commission on Second Language Acquisition).

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I know what this is!

But what are we supposed to do with it?

  • “Helping Learners to learn does not require an understanding of SLA phenomena.”
      • ICoSLA (International Commission on Second Language Acquisition)
cognitive linguistics
Cognitive Linguistics
  • Efficiency
  • grammatical structures of language are directly associated with the way people conceptualize

Ronald Langacker: “grammar is conceptualization”

multi competence integration continuum
Multi-competence – Integration continuum
  • Mind of L2 user is a whole
  • L1 + interlanguage + L2

Cook, 2002

Grosjean, 2001

fundamental distinctions
Fundamental distinctions



  • Unconscious knowledge of a grammatical system
  • How linguistic knowledge is used
  • Learner’s source of information is the target language itself.
  • Intake = Learner processes language
      • Language must fall within the learner’s range of comprehension.
      • Different learners have different intake levels.


I + 1

factors in traditional instructional methods that inhibit intake
Factors in traditional instructional methods that inhibit intake
  • Strict sequencing
  • Emphasis on productive skills
  • Limited interaction
using english in the classroom no
Using English in the classroom: NO
  • Children learning L1 can’t fall back on another language.
  • L1 and L2 should be kept in separate compartments in the brain.
  • Maximize quantity of exposure to L2.
  • Use L2 for real life functions.
using english in the classroom yes
Using English in the classroom: YES
  • Cognitive styles




Convergent thinkers

Divergent thinkers



Single dimension: right-brain to left-brain


Acquisition Learning hypothesis

Monitor hypothesis

Natural Order hypothesis

Input hypothesis

Affective Filter hypothesis





using english in the classroom how
Using English in the classroom: HOW?
  • Teachers
    • Instructions, explanations
    • Use of L1 is supportive and facilitating
    • scaffolding
  • Students
    • Allows work within Zone of Proximal Development
    • Protects attitudinal balance between L1 and L2

Clay, 2005

Smagorinsky, 2007

ZPD: Lev Vigotsky, 1978

acquisition theory
Acquisition theory
  • Learner will stop making errors when ready
  • Provide correct Input + 1
learning as process
Learning as process
  • Make error obvious
  • Model alternative
  • Explain why it’s important to produce the correct answer
  • “stopping short” (incompleteness) of native speaker proficiency
  • A central characteristic of any interlanguage is that it fossilizes… cases to develop at some point short of full identity with the target language.

Selinker, L. (1972). Interlanguage. IRAL, 10, (3), 209-231.

Tarone, 1994


Ego boundaries

Lack of empathy with TL speakers

  • Grammatical competence
      • Unconscious
      • Implicit knowledge the speaker has about language
      • Comes from the module of the mind associated with the human language faculty Chomsky, 1965
  • Pragmatics
      • Real world knowledge
      • Not innate
      • The result of non-language specific abilities that change over the course of cognitive development
progress assessment
Progress assessment
  • Is student a successful L2 user? (not “failed native speaker”)
  • What makes individual sense: specialized goals.


Proper descriptions of successful L2 users:

unique characteristics of grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

proficiency assessment
Proficiency assessment
  • American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages
  • Minnesota Language Proficiency Assessment
  • Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research , Penn State
  • University of Iowa

World Language Placement Tests

developedat Brigham Young

Achievement and Placement