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Formal Approaches to sla. Jill Walker Vestavia Hills Elementary West Innatist Approach. Language is a natural, biological process Based on the work on Chomsky and Universal Grammar

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Formal approaches to sla

Formal Approaches to sla

Jill Walker

Vestavia Hills Elementary West

Innatist approach
Innatist Approach

  • Language is a natural, biological process

  • Based on the work on Chomsky and Universal Grammar

  • All children are born with a Language Acquisition Device (LAD) that allows them to produce and understand language (Chomsky 2008).

Interactionist theory
Interactionist Theory

  • Emphasis on learner interactions and social aspect of language.

  • Reflected in the work of Vygotsky.

  • Second language acquisition occurs through interactions between the learner, teacher, and peers.

  • Uses error analysis to promote SLA.

Age factor
Age Factor

  • Some brain researchers in the field of SLA believe that there is a “critical period” for language learning.

  • Children ages 2-12 can most effectively learn a language due to brain development during this time.

  • Most researchers agree that when it comes to language learning, earlier is better; the critical period can limit L1 and L2 acquisition (Lenneburg 1967).

Other critical factors
Other Critical Factors


  • Similarities and differences between L1 and L2

  • L1 proficiency

  • L2 knowledge


  • Classroom environment

  • Home environment

    Learning Process

  • Learning styles

  • Cultural influences

  • Interactions

    (Walqui 2000)

Tips for teachers
Tips for Teachers

  • Remember to consider every child as an individual…No two students are alike!

  • To motivate students, center instruction around their likes and interests.

  • Create an environment rich in pictures, hands-on materials, and realia.

For my students
For My Students…

  • The Interactionist theory is most effective.

  • My students learn best through meaningful conversations with their teachers and peers.

  • In addition, my students benefit from error analysis and error correction.

  • My students learn from

    the social interactions that

    occur in their learning environment.

In my teaching
In My Teaching…

  • I believe that the Interactionist theory is most effective and most evident in my teaching.

  • I value the social interactions of my students, and believe that they learn from them.

  • I encourage peer interaction in my learning environment.

Helpful resources
Helpful Resources







Chomsky, N. (2008). Noam Chomsky talks about universal grammar. Retrieved from .

Chomsky, N. (2000). The architecture of language. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Lenneberg, E.H. (1967) Biological foundations of language. New York: Wiley and sons.

Walqui, A. (2000). Contextual factors in second language acquisition. Retrieved from