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Lightbown & Spada Ch. 1
Transcript of Lightbown & Spada Ch. 1
How Languages are Learned
Patsy M. Lightbown
Of the book:
“to introduce teachers … to some of the language acquisition research that may help them not only to evaluate existing textbooks and materials but also to adapt them in ways that are more consistent with our understanding of how languages are learned (Introduction, p. xv).”
Of Chapter 1:
to look at characteristics of language in young children and consider various theories that attempt to explain how language is learned for preparation of book topic of second language acquisition (p. 1).
(1) What enables a child to learn words and put them together in meaningful sentences?
(2) What pushes children to develop complex grammatical language even though their early simple communication is successful in most cases?
(3) How does child language develop similarly around the world?
(4) How do bilingual children acquire more than one language? (p. 1)
1. The first 3 years
- cognitive development and/or gradual mastery
- consistency of acquisition in
- grammatical morphemes, negation, questions
2. Pre-school years
- at 4 years children can
- ask questions, give commands, report events, create imaginary stories - have mastered basic language
3. School years
- increasing metalinguistic awareness, increased vocabulary, different language registers
Based on what you have read in chapter 1, describe which patterns of language learning are consistent in preschool-aged children. Do cross-cultural studies also support this?
1. Behaviourist Perspective - B. F. Skinner - 1940s and 1950s - believed that language was largely a result of environment
2. Innatist Perspective - Noam Chomsky - 1959 - children genetically programmed for language - critical period hypothesis.
3. Interactionist/Developmental Perspectives - learning is both environmental and genetic
1. Jean Piaget (1951/1946) - language as a result of interaction
2. Vygotsky (1978) - Zone of Proximal Development
3. Catherine Snow (1995) - Child-directed speech
4. Interaction - the need for an interlocutor
5. Connectionism - exposure to language and general learning
Language Disorders & Delay
Jim Cummins (1984, 2000) points out that (1) immigrant children with a different home language, (2) minority children with a different home language and (3) children who speak a different variety of a language than that of the school are often viewed as having a lack of knowledge of language overall and are placed in special education class or remedial classes (p. 25)
No evidence that learning a second language has negative effects on developments
Wong-Fillmore (1991) - children must develop age-appropriate mastery of home language before being submerged in English
Lambert (1987) - subtractive vs. additive bilingualism
- Interactionist/developmental perspectives that take both nature and nurture into account are the most plausible
- Teachers and educators need to be aware that knowing another language is not a disorder and also that additive bilingualism is important for both children and parents to maintain their self-esteem and experience cognitive development in a language they are familiar with.
In this chapter, we saw some of the research on language acquisition in children and learned about three theoretical perspectives for explaining first language acquisition. This gives the reader the ability to understand the theoretical perspectives presented for second language acquisition in chapter 2.
Briefly describe the three perspectives on language development that Lightbown and Spada describe in the book. Give an example of the relevant concepts for each.
Extension (Fillmore, 2000)
A subtractive process in ESL (Lambert, 1977) is when English displaces the primary language. The process of language loss in immigrant children has been documented repeatedly (Fillmore, 1991)
A case study report on the Chen Family, Chinese immigrants with two Chinese-born children and two American-born children. The report details the language learning experiences of the children.
Extension (Fillmore, 2000)
What happens when a language is lost?
How is a language lost?
In the US, powerful social and political forces work against the retention of minority language. To many Americans, English is an ideology: to be American is to speak English. Language loss is a result of both internal and external forces
- internal: need to fit in, conformity, need to communicate
- external: socio-political
Conclusion/Implications (Fillmore, 2000)
- Children should attend schools where primary language is used along with English
- Teachers must work together with parents
- encourage parents to provide primary language opportunities in the home
- teachers and parents must be aware of the traumas students potentially face in the new environment
Activity - Language Acquisition Video
What view do the makers of this video espouse? Behaviourist, innatist or interactionist? Cite specific examples that make you think so from the clip.
2. Findings & Key Points
4. Conclusion & Implications
5. Questions for Discussion
6. Extension Activity
Patterns in Language
What's the problem if a language is lost?
Myths about child bilinguals
Behaviourists emphasized the role of the environment in learning (nurture)
Chomsky criticized the behaviourist point of view that had, up until that point, dominated psychology
Piaget - Language through interaction with physical environment