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Copy of Chapter 4: Cognitive approaches to second language learning

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Kate Morgan

on 24 April 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Chapter 4: Cognitive approaches to second language learning

To what extent can general cognition explain SLA phenomena ?
Essential question for this chapter:
Input-based emergentist perspectives

Emergentism--research that shows L2 learning is bottom up

Factors that influence this process:

Input related factors:

--Frequency and salience of target features of L2 input Learner related mechanisms

--Associative learning

--L1 transfer

These factors are interdependent but we'll explain in more detail as the chapter unfolds.

Input related factors




--Lexical/semantic contexts

In this chapter we will:

-Investigate theories that propose the same type of implicit mechanisms are in play for L1 and L2 learning.

In chapter 5, we will look at theories that speculate L2 learning is different and more explicit than L1 learning.

Chapter is divided into 2 parts:

First we will introduce how input affects learning.

Second part of chapter will investigate whether processing constraints influence what learners can do.

-Pienemann's Processability Theory

-O'Grady's efficiency-driven processor

Second Language Learning Theories:
Chapter 4: Cognitive approaches to second language learning (1):
general implicit learning mechanisms

by: Jacquie Hill, Kate Morgan,
Morgan Petronis, Shannan Smith, Susan Stillwell, Lizette Vilaragut,
& Lori Ziminski

Two studies: parent/child and classroom instruction

First study: meta analysis of 12 naturalistic studies of l2 English 900 learners with 29 different L1s Study focused on English morphemes for acquisition order (as studied in chapter 2)

Findings: no single input feature predicted accuracy but all 5 when working together predicted accuracy.

Important difference in the studies: first study used input data that learners were actually exposed to, not just a reference corpus.

Second study: a 110,000 word corpus of instructional talk to 11-12 year old francophone learners of l2 English in Quebec.

Study focused on investigate input associated with English structures known to be easier/harder and to see if acquisition could be related to these.

Studied the frequency in the classroom and this could not determine ease/difficulty of acquisition
Another study done (Luk and Shirai 2009) investigated another aspect left out of the previous 2 studies: influence of L1 on acquisition orders of plural and possessive -s. Varying factors help determine this: l1 influence, input characteristics, and learners' individual differences
The Competition Model
(also known as the Unified Competition Model)

--learners become sensitive to the contribution of different (competing) language features to the interpretation of meaning.

--Learners discover cues to work with word relationships.

--Learning takes place by general cognitive mechanisms, social evidence, and neurolinguistic evidence.

--MacWhinney believes input drives L1 and L2 language learning.

Constructionist Perspective

• one must learn an array of constructions
• language use make constructions schematized in the mind
• Mostly focused on L1 but L2 interest is increasing
• Collins and Ellis, 2009; Ellis and Calierno, 2009; Boyd and Goldberg, 2009; Tyler 2012
• Studies focus on frequency and prototypicality

4.3 Processing-based Perspectives of Second Language Acquisition

Processing/Processability theories focus on determining the nature of the logico-mathematical processes that occur in the brain during Second Language Acquistion. This group of theorists believes that L2 learners have access to language acquisition processes that enabled L1, but processes only become available to the L2 learner in an incremental, predictable sequence through stages of development.
According to Processability theorists:
1. L1 is the foundation for how language is processed.

2. L2 learning is the restructuring of Interlanguage
in ways that can be processed.

3. L2 input is parsed by mental computational processes
to create meaning.

4. Language input is received by the brain, and it is parsed. Parsing
involves negotiation between the underlying language structure and computational processes. Together, these cognitive processes determine, limit, and enable L2 output.

Points to Remember:

• Concentration on implications for SLA

• Focus on computational processes in language learning

• Language learning is limited by what we can process

• L2 Development occurs in stages, and in a predictable order.

• European/Australian Model

Important Researchers:

M. Pienemann- Processability Theory

W. O’Grady - The Efficiency-Driven Processor

B.Van Patten- Input Processing Theory

N.C. Ellis

• Ellis and Ferreira- Junior ( 2009 )

• examined the effects of frequency, prototypes, and general meaning of three verb- argument constructions
• particular expressions were favored in both native speakers and L2s
• verb locatives - go somewhere
• verb object locatives- put something somewhere
• ditransitives - give someone something
• high frequency verbs - go, put, give are useful because of their generic meanings

Implicit Learning
• implicit learning is knowledge that the learner acquired without intent
• very difficult to determine if learning is implicit

Implicit Learning Studies:
• Williams (2009) - 3 indicators of implicit learning
• influences behavior without awareness
• used automatically
• served by different brain systems
• Norman (2007) - fringe consciousness
• students asked if answers were based on a guess,
intuition, memory, or grammar rule.

Studies, continued...
• Ellis (2005) and Ellis and Loewen ( 2007)
- automaticity
• time pressure taps into automatic responses
• research showed evidence of both implicit
( automatized) and explicit knowledge
• Leung and Williams ( 2011) - reaction time
• students were taught training sentences
that all followed a particular rule
• testing phase shown sentences with
the rule broken
• implicit learning does have a role in
L2 morphosyntax; phrases and sentences

O’Grady’s Efficiency-Driven Processor

the key properties of a language’s syntax reflect a neurophysiologically motivated drive for efficiency in the interests of minimizing the burden on working memory

- O’Grady (2005)

Pienemann’s Processability

He was the first to link developmental stages to learnability and teachability of a second language. It is an attempt to increase our understanding of how learners acquire a second language. He states that learners develop the linguistic structure in a second language based on their understanding of the processing.

Pienemann states that learners restructure their L2 knowledge to conform with their stages of development.
He believes that learners learn in stages and only after one stage has been acquired can the learner move on to the following stage.

For example:
In order to acquire the correct morphological and syntactic forms for English questions, learners must transform declarative English sentences. He believes that learners do so by a series of stages, consistent across learners.

In a nutshell - There are two principles of Pienemann's theory:

Hierarchy of Processing
that learners process L2 as follows:
• First, maintain declarative word order; changing other aspects of the utterances.
• Second, move words to the beginning and end of sentences
• Third, move elements within main clauses before subordinate clauses.

Perceptual Salience
- it is easier for a learner to move things to the beginning or ending of a sentence (in or out of sentence than for the learner to move elements within a sentence.

Teachability Hypothesis
His observations led to his
Teachability Hypothesis

• Stages of acquisition cannot be skipped

• *** Instruction is most beneficial if it focuses on structures from the next step

EDP & Second Language Acquisition

Extra burdens imposed on WM

Processing a new phonological system
Segmenting words and morphology
Assigning syntactic roles to these words
Learning which co-dependencies can go with which lexical items and morphology

4.2.2 Learner –related factors –associative learning

Ideas & experiences reinforce one another-Associative Learning
• Cognitive mechanism is thought to operate SLA
• These mechanisms and methodologies are adopted from cognitive psychology

N.C. Ellis -theoretical framework of some of the mechanisms-CREED

-Construction-based- acquisition of constructions form map
-Rational- predict the constructions that are most likely to be relevant
-Exemplar- learners abstract regularities from groups of similar constructions
-Emergent-learning emerges out of experience
-Dialectic- interactions with others lessen aspects that cause problems Learners use of frequency in the input
• The more times there is a stimulus or the more frequent the input occurs-the more likely there will be learning Overshadowing, attention blocking and the role of L1
• When a feature in input is redundant
• Ex: Yesterday I carried a box.
• Content word-yesterday is more salient than “ed”
• Yesterday overshadows past tense
• Overshadowing can lead to selective attention known as attention blocking Statistical learning and connectionist accounts

• Learners unconsciously tally the likelihood that 1 form will follow another
• Connectionist computer model is used to investigate statistical learning
• Links strengthened or weakened? -Depending on activation or nonactivation
• At first-predictions are random
• After many cycles & discovering if predictions were correct or not… Processing units or hidden layers are adjusted

4.4 Evaluation of implicit, cognitive approaches
-The role of general, innate learning mechanisms in SLA
-Increasing interconnections between cognitive and other approaches

4.4.1 The scope and achievements of research into implicit, cognitive approaches
Cognitivists vs. Emergentists

-there is growing evidence that form-meaning connections can be learned implicitly
-more research is necessary to determine what can be learned implicitly and from which underlying sources (UG, L1 and/or L2)

4.4.2- 4.4.4 The view of language, language learning, and the language learner
-How the role of individual differences impacts language learning
-Classroom activities can be manipulated to increase input frequency
Computational processor

Efficiency Requirement

The boy
with the curly hair

Efficiency-Driven Processor
A lexicon that draws of declarative memory
Computational system
Supported by working memory

Construction Learning
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