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Skill Acquisition Theory

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Tiago Bione

on 15 December 2015

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Transcript of Skill Acquisition Theory

Skill Acquisition Theory (SAT)
Multidisciplinary theory

Basic claim – similarities in different skills development

Skill Acquisition Theory
Tiago Alves
Jennica Grimshaw

What Skill Acquisition Theory Can Explain:
Sample Study:
de Jong and Perfetti (2011)
Discussion Questions
Can SAT be used to explain implicit learning? Why or why not?
How valid do you think SAT is?
Do you think the process
be done in order? According to this theory, should we push students beyond their current level?
Place the following examples into one of the 3 stages; explain your choices
de Jong, N. and Perfetti, C. (2011). Fluency Training in the ESL
Classroom: An Experimental Study of Fluency Development and Proceduralization.
Language Learning, 61(2),
Dekeyser, R. (2014) Skill Acquisition Theory. In VanPatten, B.,
& Williams, J. (Eds.). Theories in second language acquisition (2nd edition; pp. 94-112). New York: Routledge.
Hulstijn, J. H., Van Gelderen, A., & Schoonen, R. (2009).
Automatization in second language acquisition: What does the coefficient of variation tell us?
Applied psycholinguistics, 30
(4), 555.
Serrano, R. (2011). The Time Factor in EFL classroom practice.
Language Learning 61(
1), 117–145.
Across domains:
reaction time
error rate
, and
develop as result of practice
Cognitive neuroscience & neuroimaging
Computational modeling
Ideal distribution of practice:
distributed vs. massed practice
Lack of evidence and studies in SLA

Limits of frequency, instruction and output effects;

SLA is variable in outcome and across linguistic subsystems;

Stages in acquisition
Acquisition in naturalistic/implicit learning settings
What Skill Acquisition Theory Can't Explain:
All or Nothing
“Many aspects of a second language are unlearnable – or at best acquired very slowly – from implicit process alone.” (Ellis, 2005)

Overgeneralization – any kind of construction can be learned, practiced and automatized.

Prototypical situation:
a) High-aptitude adult learners
b) Learning of simple structures
c) Early stages
d) Instructional context

SAT presents a method of acquiring skills
Does not contradict other theories (ie. explicit/implicit learning); not exclusive
Cannot explain all skill acquisition (e.g. in implicit settings)
Cannot explain L1 acquisition (Serrano, 2011)
Cannot change order/speed of process; attempted by many teachers
Specific skills do not transfer well (e.g. reading -> writing)
Stages of development
Declarative Knowledge
Acquired through Perceptual Observation, Explicit Instruction, or a combination of both
Transfer from expert to novice
Procedural Knowledge
Information into behavior
Not time consuming (few trials)
Advantage over declarative knowledge: chunks
Reaction Time
Error Rate
Required attention
Automatic Knowledge
Gradual automatization of knowledge
Skills are not 100% automatic (in process)
Intensive Practice
Fast processing, Parallel, Attention-free, Effortless
Power Law
Two kinds of knowledge:
Specific, high automatized knowledge
Abstract declarative knowledge & abstract procedural rules
For training
Overall, useful theory to explain acquisition of variety of skills
Cannot explain everything (not necessary)
Example #1
After a few tries, a student completes grammar exercises in her textbook.
Example #2
An expat from India successfully uses colloquial expressions in a conversation with co-workers.
Example #3
Purpose & Methodology
Question: How to best proceduralize declarative knowledge of grammar and vocabulary?
Participants: 20 ESL students (classroom-based research)
Method: 4-3-2 procedure (a) same story or (b) different stories.
Result: repeating same story was more effective for the proceduralization of knowledge
Conclusion: Periods of "repetitive" practice = more beneficial
A learner hires an instructor to give him English lessons.
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