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raul alonso tejero

on 3 November 2014

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Teaching Methodology
1.Theories of First Language Acquisiton
Competence and Performance
Comprehension and Production
Nature or Nurture controversy
Language and Thought
Different points of view in the study of the relationship between language and cognition:
Is imitation important for children language acquisition?
Input is determining in language acquisition
Area of Conversational or Discourse analysis
Exposure is not enough to acquire a language:
Language pedagogy
did not receive much attention from systematic research until the beginning of 20th century.
Francois Gouin
When he came back to France he observed his nephew and noticed that him learned too fast in a natural way, without the necessity of memorize anything.

Maximiliam Berlitz
The insights of Gouin did not take hold until some visionaries appeared like Maximilian Berlitz.
This method had a lot of popularity in the end of 19th century until the middle of 20th century, above all in private schools.
1. Theories of First Language Acquisition
Behavioral Approaches
Challenges to Behavioral Approaches
The Nativist Approach
Challenges to Nativist Approaches
Functional Approaches
2. Issues in First Language Acquisition
Competence and Performance.
Comprehension and Production
Nature or Nature?
Systematicity and Variability
Language and Thought
Practice and Frequency
3. First Language Acquisition Insights Applied to Language Teaching
Behaviorist Theory :
Cognition is too mentalistic to be studied by the scientific method.

Skinner: Language is acquired by a process of stimuli - response.

A sentence is merely part of “a behavior chain".

Humans have a group of innate cognitive structures and from them the language is developed.

Main idea: Language springs from cognitive development.
Socio-cognitive theories:
Language is a prerequisite to cognitive development.
Thought and language are two distinct cognitive operations that grow together.
Every child reaches his potential development thanks to the combination of two factors:

Innate cognitive structures.

Social interaction.
Edward Sapir
: "
Each language imposes on its speaker a particular worldview
do children learn when they acquire their first language?
do they learn what they learn?( for instance: how do they determine what words mean, or how to produce grammatical utterances they have never heard before?)
do they learn a language? do they learn it becausee their parents or adults teach it to them? because they are genetically programmed to acquire a language? Because of the service of some need to communicate with others and to meet their needs through language
18 months: the child is able to create "telegraphic utterances" (like: "daddy play" , "mommy food")

The child develops his brain gradually and starts posing questions and forming negatives from its second year (like: "what you doing", "it not good")

According to Gleason & Ratner: "children learn language rapidly"

Children´s word "systematc errors", grammatical or syntactical mistakes ("we
de baby rabit")

A certain linguistic structure
"concrete nouns are acquired before abstract nouns"

" young children respond more rapidly to relative clauses formed on the subjects than on the onjects"

"children who are not exposed to a language, for some reasons, have developed a language which abides with UG principles (Universal Grammar)"

Three positions which explains the process of First Language Acquisition:
The Behaviorist Position

The Nativist Position

The Functional Position
Functional Approach
"A sentence is a
behavior chain
, each element of which provides a conditional stimulus for the production of the succeeding element"
Piaget: Language depends on cognition
Behaviorist: cognition is too mentalistic to be studied

Jerome Bruner: Language
influences cognition
Each language imposes on
Its speaker a particular
Benjamin Whorf & Edward Sapir: Linguistics relativity

one of the most important strategies used for children in order to acquire a language
Echoing phonological acqusition
Imitation Theory
Children learn grammar by memorizing the words and sentences of their language.

Memorizing is not enough to learn a language.

Children are not memorizing, they are building a language.
Children can
produce and understand
novel sentences.
Children not only repeat
They acquiring a set of rules and applying them to create new sentences
Two different kinds of imitation:

Repetition of the surface strings
Attention to the phonological code.

Attention to the surface structure.
Language as a
to communicate
3. First Language Acquisition Insights Applied to Language Teaching
Some linguistics said that innateness is the key in language acquisition
Two different authors:
Bellugi and Brownand Darch.

is essential
Conversation is a universal human activity
How children learn to take part in conversations
Sinclair and Coulthard
They decided to examine the conversation in terms of
Children learn that utterances have not only a literal meaning, but also a functional one
Two revolutionaries of language pedagogy:
Francois Gouin
Maximilian Berlitz
He created the
Series Method
He decided to study German in the middle of his life.
He only memorized verbs and words in the solitude of his room, without talking with anyone.
At the end, he only knew a lot of vocabulary, structures and verbs, but he was unable to speak with fluency.

In his book
The Art of Learning and Studying Foreign Languages
explained his experiences which lead him to his insights about language teaching.
Language learning is primarily a matter of transforming perceptions into conceptions.

Children use language to represent
their conceptions.
This method taught learners directly (without translation) and conceptually (without grammatical rules) a “series” of connected sentences that are easy to perceive
To sum up:

This kind of sentences are easy to understand, store and recall.

Students learn some verbs, prepositions, grammar structures… inadvertently, in a natural way.
He defended that second language had to be learned like first language learning :
with oral interaction and spontaneous
use of the language, not only memorization.
In this way, Richard and Rodgers (2001), summarized the principles of the Direct Method from the Berlitz´s insights:
Classroom instruction was conducted exclusively in the target language.

Only everyday vocabulary and sentences were taught.

Oral communication skills were built up in a carefully graded of progression organized around question-and-answer exchanges between teachers and student in a small, intensive classes.

Grammar was taught inductively.

New teaching points were introduced orally.

Concrete vocabulary was taught through demonstration, objects and pictures while the abstract vocabulary was taught by association of ideas.

Both speech and listening comprehension were taught.

Correct pronunciation and grammar were emphasized.

At the public schools this method didn´t work because of different factors: classrooms size, time, absence of native teachers…
This method was criticized and declined in Europe and USA.
Finally, in the end of 20th century, most language returned to the Grammar Translation Method.
Example of the
Direct Method
2. Issues in First Language Acquisition
COMPETENCE: knowledge of the system. Rules, vocabulary and the pieces that fit together. The nonobservable ability to do something.

PERFORMANCE: concret manifestation of competence. The actual doing something.

Competence and performance cannot be separated. One needs and depends on the other.

Competence is the ideal language system that makes it possible for speakers to produce and understand an infinite number of sentences. This is an inherit characteristic of the humans
Competence performance model has not meet with universal acceptance.
Major criticism focus on the notion that competence.

Stubbs said that dualisms are unnecessary, and the only option for linguists is to study language in use.

All of a child’s or adult’s slips and hesitations and self-corrections are connected to what Tarone calls heterogeneous competence (abilities that are in process of being formed).
Comprehension and production are aspects of performance and competence.

Children seem to understand more than they actually produce.


Gathercole reported on a number of studies in which children were able to produce certain aspects of language they could not comprehend.
In conclusion, all aspects of linguistic comprehension precede and facilitate linguistic production
Nature means by teaching
Nurture means innate
Nativists contend that a child is born with an innate knowledge of or predisposition toward language, this innate property is universal in all human beings.
But innateness hypothesis presented a number of problems itself.

In the other hand we have environmental factors.
Derek Bickerton said that human beings are bioprogrammed to release certain properties of language at certain developmental ages, proceeding from stage to stage.
The Behaviorist Approach:
"Tabula rasa:
a clean slate bearing no preconceived notions about the world or about the language
Language: a central characteristic of the human behavior.
Effective language behavior
the creation of proper responses to the stimuli
e.g. "When a particular response is reinforced, it then becomes habitual, or conditioned."
imitation: a word for word repetition of all or part of someone else´s utterance
e.g." mother: Would you like some bread and peanut butter?" "Paul: some bread and peanut butter."
the repetitive manipulation of form
e.g. "Anna can do it.Nicos can do it. We can do it."
operant conditioning is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior
" When consequences are rewarding, behavior is maintained and is increased in strength and perhaps frequency"
"When consequences are punishing, or there is total lack of reinforcement, the behavior is weakened and eventually extinguished"
internalize the rules of their language and create sentences they have never heard or learned before.
Confusing information:
false starts, incomplete sentences, or slips of the tongue.
The Nativist Approach
language acquisition
: innate capacity
: as other biological functions
innate ability
: as a "black box"
: contains all the principles of human languages and gives the ability to distinguish speech sounds from other sounds in the environment
Helps the child to classify its linguistic data, by matching the innate knowledge of basic grammatical relationships to the structure of the particular language in the environment.
Gives the ability to engage in constant evaluation of the developing linguistic system so as to construct the simplest possible system out of the available linguistic input.
Nativist framework:
Freedom from the restrictions of the so-called "scientific method" to explore the unseen, unobservable, underlying, abstruct linguistic structures being developed in the child. systematic description of the child´s linguistic repertoires as either rule-governed or operating out of parallel distributed processing capacities. And the construction of a number of potential properties of Universal Grammar.
: a form of expression
emphasis on:
the forms of language ( morphemes, words, sentences, and the rules that govern them)
than its functions:( the meaningful, interactive purposes, within a social, pragmatic context, that we accomplish with the forms.)
Lois Bloom
: the relationship in which words occur in telegraphic utterances, are only superficially similar.

e.g. "mommy sock" consists of a pivot word and an open word

3 relations: "mommy is putting the sock on" : the agent action, "mommy sees the sock": agent object, "mommy´s sock": the possessor or possessed.
Two major pacesetters:
functional level
, which concerns the development of conceptual and communicative capacities, opperating in conjunction with the innate schemas of cognition.
the formal level
, which concerns the development of perceptual and information-processing capacities, operating in conjunction with innate schemas of grammar.

Children learn how social systems affect human behavior.
What do children know and learn about talking with others? What are the relationships between sentences? What is the interaction between hearer and speaker?
obvious responses: hesitations, pauses, backtracking, and "performance variables"
Language is universally acquired in the same manner and the deep structure of language at its deepest level may be common to all languages.

Maratson enumerated some of the universal linguistic categories:

1. Word order
2. Morphological making tone
3. Agreement
4. Reduced references (nouns and noun classes)
5. Verbs and verb classes
6. Predication
7. Question formation

Languages cannot vary in an infinite number of ways, parameters determine ways in which language can vary.

Systematic and Variability
Children acquire language systematically, in stages:

Stage 1: they acquire pivot grammar
Stage 2: they acquire between three and four word utterances
Stage 3: they acquire full sentences
Children exhibit a remarkable ability to infer the phonological, structural, lexical and semantic system of language. In the midst of all this systematicity, there is an equally remarkable amount of variability in the process of learning.
The end
Isaac Solano
Joanna Chiotaki
Sandra Valdajos
Raúl Alonso
Adult and peer input to the child has an important role in language acquisition.
Contrary to the Nativist position,
adult input
Play a crucial part in shaping the child´s acquisition
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