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Language Acquisition

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Region 4

on 19 February 2016

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Transcript of Language Acquisition

What Is Language Proficiency?
∣Ability to use a language effectively and appropriately

It includes rules of language usage and use

Usage: grammatical rules governing sounds (phonology), word forms (morphology), word orders (syntax) used to convey meaning (semantics)
Use: Social conventions of language, politeness, appropriateness

∣| Communicative Competence
∣| Language

∣| The five sub-systems of the language?

∣| More About Language Proficiency
deals with sounds of the language (pitch, intonation, voicing)

is the rules of sentence formation and word order. In a sentence we have a subject, an object and a verb (minimally thinking)

Some languages follow SVO (English)
Some other languages follow SOV (Turkish)

: deals with the relationship between context and the use of language -interpretation of meaning. Context (the circumstances and conditions which "surround" an event) affects the use of language
Everyday language: How are you? (literally)
Context 2: (The door bell rings)
Wife to the husband: “ I am going to the store”
∣| Language: A Complicated Entity
Languages are alive!
Mutual intelligibility (dialects of Chinese and Spanish Portuguese situations exceptions)
Systematic phonology, morphology, semantic changes. (e.g. pop-soda, differences in terms of pronunciation)

The site below is a link to an extensive study which focused on dialectal differences in the United States


What happens when a language/dialect comes into power
English in co-centric circles:

One’s language is his identity
Ethnic pride, cultural values, family
Ebonics (African-American)
Chicano (Mexican-American youth)

∣| First Language Acquisition (FLA) Theories


has to do with the meaning of the words or phrases in a sentence
1. Literal or figurative meaning
She is a chicken. (coward- real chicken?)
2. Metaphors and similes
Her eyes are heaven Your eyes are like..
3. Word formation
Blending: smog
Acronym: NASA, NATO
Compound: earth-quake
Based on product brands: Hoover, Kleenex

Morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in the word
Morphology deals with the formation of words in a language

How many morphemes do we have in the following words?
Bottle bottles
Go went
Employ employment unemployment

∣| Language Aquisition
∣| Krashen’s SL Acquisition Theory
First/Second Language Acquisition

Part 1

Communicative competence is the ability to not only apply the grammatical rules of a language in order to form grammatically correct sentences but also to know when and where to use these sentences and to whom.

How would you apologize when you hit someone? Does your apology depend on the context?

When do we use formal expressions?

deals with sounds of the language (pitch, intonation, voicing)
is the rules of sentence formation and word order. In a sentence we have a subject, an object and a verb (minimally thinking)

Some languages follow SVO (English)
Some other languages follow SOV (Turkish)

deals with the relationship between context and the use of language -interpretation of meaning. Context (the circumstances and conditions which "surround" an event) affects the use of language

Everyday language: How are you? (literally)
Context 2: (The door bell rings)
Wife to the husband: “ I am upstairs”
1) Behaviorist Theory (Skinner)
Organisms need reinforcements to keep them interested and that the use of stimuli can be very effective in controlling behavior.
Stimulus, response, reinforcement: basic elements of learning
Imitation and association: basic processes of learning
Tabula rasa: a blank mental slate awaiting the scripture of experience

- Cannot account for atypical utterances or creative
- Cannot explain how any novel utterance is produced
2) Innatist theory (Chomsky):
Language learning means applying rules not just imitation.
Plural marker can be used for all words boys,mans,childs. Then they will revise their hypothesis to accommodate the exceptions

- Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
Children are born with the major principles of language in place, and with some parameters, pre-wired systems
Universal Grammar (Innate Grammar Template)

- Hypothesis testing: children construct grammar through a process of hypothesis testing. This sometimes ends up with overgeneralization of certain grammar rules boy-boys and child-childs*

- Drawbacks
Ignores the role of parents and caretakers
The rare cases in which children who are socially deprived (ex. Genie) can not speak the language and socialize with others

First Language Acquisition Theories
3) Interactionist theory
- Emphasis on the role of caregivers: they help to adjust language to facilitate the use of innate capacities for language acquisition
- Both nature (the systems learners are born with) and nurture (social interaction) are emphasized
- Communication leads to acquisition
- Interaction is a key- negotiation for meaning
- Both the child and the environment have an important role in the LA process

2) Innatist theory (Chomsky):
Second Language Acquisition
- Behaviorist perspective in SLA
- Stimulus-response- imitation
New language should be memorized
Patterns of language should be over-learned
Bad habits should be avoided, therefore, correct errors immediately
Follow the natural sequence of language acquisition
* Priority should be given to listening and speaking

Second Language Acquisition(SLA) Theories
Audio-lingual Method
New material is presented in dialogue form.
Dependence on mimicry, memorization of set phrases, and over learning.
Structural patterns are taught with repetitive drills.
There is little or no grammatical explanation. 
- Grammar is taught inductively NOT deductively.
 Use of tapes, language labs, and visual aids.
 Pronunciation. (native-like)
 Successful output is always reinforced.
Use of mother tongue is not allowed.
Error free utterance is the ultimate goal .

-Innatist perspective in SLA

Creative construction theory
* ELLs creative construct the rules of the L2 in a
way that is similar to that observed in L1

Contrastive analysis
* Comparing FL and SL to predict areas of difficulty
in the SL development
* The more different the two languages, the more
difficult it would be to learn the SL

Second Language Acquisition(SLA) Theories
Second Language Acquisition(SLA) Theories
The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis

- Acquisition is natural
Meaningful interaction with native speakers
No attention to form
- Learning is formal
- Learning doesn’t turn into acquisition
- Fluent communication comes out of acquisition
- Criticism: is learning or acquisition at work when language is used?
The Monitor Hypothesis

- Internal grammar monitor: due to formal study of
- Conditions needed to use the monitor
Enough time, focus on forms, knowledge of the rules
- Acquisition is the base
Focus of language teaching is communication, not rote learning

The Natural Order Hypothesis

- Language rules are learned in a predictable sequence
For instance certain morphemes are acquired earlier than others. ‘-s’ 3 functions
- Not everybody follows the same order
Individual variation
First language influence

The Input Hypothesis:
SL acquisition is a result of the learner’s understanding the target language in natural communication situations.

- Two important elements of this hypothesis:
Comprehensible input: input language must be understandable
i + 1: input language must contain grammatical structures that are just a bit beyond the acquirer’s current level
- Extra cues: Extra-linguistic information and context

The Affective Filter Hypothesis

- Social-emotional variables
- Most important affective variables:
Low-anxiety learning environment
Student motivation
Self confidence/self esteem
- Silent period is allowed (It was not okay for Behaviorists)

- Language teaching practices should focus on communication, not form
- Don’t force students to produce speech, respect their silent period
- Create a low anxiety environment for SLLs
- Drawbacks:
Distinction between learning and acquisition
Does comprehensible input alone account for language acquisition? What about the importance of output?
Some grammatical forms need explicit instruction

Interactionist perspective in SLA

- The communicative give and take between native and non-native speakers is very important in language acquisition process
- Negotiation of meaning
Speaker-listener cooperation
- Output from language learners acting as feedback

- Social context: where the language was learned
Formal study/foreign
* language normally does not lead to a substantial
level of communicative competence
Immersion/second language
- Age: when SL acquisition begins
The younger, the better
Is this always true?
Native born children speaking another language at home

Learning a Second Language at School: Processes and Factors
- Interplay of sociocultural, cognitive and personality
- Greater proficiency demand for older students
Their English should be good enough for academic purposes
- Older students feel a larger language gap However,
Well-developed academic skills and strategies transfer between a bilingual's two languages
Older students are cognitively more developed

Social vs. Academic Language Use
Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS)

Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP)

Which one do you think we develop first?

Or do you think we acquire these skills concurrently?

Which one is harder to attain?

Comprehensible input and social interaction
* Comprehensible input leads to better communication
AS TEACHERS how can we make the content COMPREHENSIBLE???

Treatment of language learning errors
* Errors that impede communication
* Fossilized errors
* Word corrections vs. grammar corrections
* Vocabulary correction is more important than grammar correction
* Corrections focusing on meaning are learned more easily
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