Get this from a library! Theories in second language acquisition: an introduction. [Bill VanPatten; Jessica Williams;] -- The second edition of Theories in Second. The Modern Language Journal Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction edited by VANPATTEN, BILL, & JESSICA. Bilingual Literacy and Input Negotiate Knowledge: Tracing Heritage Language Bilingual Development. High-level L2 acquisition, learning, and use. In: N. Abrahamsson & K. Hyltenstam (eds.), High-level L2 Acquisition, Learning, and Use (thematic issue of Studies in Second Language.
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Bill VanPatten is professor of Spanish and second language studies at of Theories 1 Bill VanPatten and Jessica Williams 2 Early Theories in SLA 17 Bill. Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction. B. VanPatten and J. Williams (eds). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, Pp. vii + gaulecvebota.ga: Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction ( Second Language Acquisition Research Series) (): Bill VanPatten.
Constructs All theories have what are called constructs. Constructs are key features or mech- anisms on which the theory relies; they must be definable in the theory. In the theory about disease transmission, germ is a construct. In the theory about working memory, capacity is a construct; and in the theory about syntax, a trace is a construct. In evaluating any theory, it is important to understand the constructs on which the theory relies; otherwise, it is easy to judge a theory one way or another—that is, as a good or bad theory—without a full understanding of the underpinnings of the theory.
For example, without an understanding of the construct germ, it would have been easy to dismiss germ theory. But given that the construct germ was eas- ily definable and identifiable, dismissal of germ transmission and diseases was not so facile. To fully understand something like Relativity, one must have a thorough grasp of the constructs time, space, and others.
In SLA, we find an abundance of constructs that are in need of definitions. For example, take the term second language acquisition itself. It makes no difference what the language is, where it is learned, or how it is learned. This suggests, then, that any theorizing about SLA ought to apply equally to the person learning Egyptian Arabic in Cairo without the benefit of instruction as to the person learning French in a foreign language classroom in the United States.
By defining second in an all-encompassing way, it has an effect on the scope of the theory. If the construct second were not defined this way, then it would have limited scope over the contexts of language learning. For example, some people define second language to refer to a language learned where it is spoken e.
Thus, if second were defined in the more restricted way, a theory of SLA would be limited to the first context of learning. The term language is deceptively simple as a construct, but have you ever tried to define it? Does it mean speech? Or does it mean the rules that govern speech production?
Or does it mean the unconscious knowledge system that contains all the information about language e. Thus, any theory about SLA needs to be clear on what it means by lan- guage. Otherwise, the reader may not fully grasp what the theory claims, or worse, misinterpret it.
In summary, here are key issues discussed so far: We have explored what theories are but only obliquely addressed why they might be useful. Certainly, they help us to understand the phenomena that we observe. Consider again the Critical Period Hypothesis. It has often been observed that speak- ers who begin the process of SLA later in life usually have an accent.
A theory about the loss of brain plasticity during natural maturation may help explain this phenomenon. The same theory might predict that learners who begin foreign language study in high school will be less likely to approach a native-like standard of pronunciation than those learners who have access to significant amounts of target-language input much earlier in life. These kinds of predictions have clear practical applications; for example, they suggest that foreign language learning should begin at a young age.
In one theory of SLA, producing lan- guage usually called output is considered an important element in structuring linguistic knowledge and anchoring it in memory.
In another theory, in contrast, output is considered unimportant in developing second language knowledge.
Its role is limited to building control over knowledge that has already been acquired. These differences in theory would have clear and important consequences for sec- ond language instruction.
In the first case, output practice would have a significant role in all aspects of instruction. In the second case, it would be most prominent in fluency practice. Theories are also useful in guiding research, which may not always have immediate practical purposes related to, say, instruction. If we step back for a moment and consider the theories previously mentioned, we have looked at the following: The first is a theory of what is to be acquired, that is, the unconscious mental representation of constraints on language.
How is it different from Spanish or Chinese? Nor would it be sufficient to study a big grammar book and commit all its rules to memory. And what about the sound system and constraints on syllable formation e. In short, English, like any other language, is complex and consists of many components. You may recall that we touched on this issue when we noted that language itself is a construct that a theory needs to define. Once the theory defines what it means by language, it can better guide the questions needed to conduct research.
The second two items on the preceding list are not really about the target of acquisition; rather, they address the factors that affect learning outcomes e. These processes may be internal to the learner such as what might be happening in working memory as the learner is attempting to comprehend language and how this impacts learning or they may be external to the learner such as how learners and native speakers engage in con- versation and how this impacts learning.
Theories regarding factors or processes are clearly different from theories about the what of acquisition, but they, too, can guide researchers conducting empirical research. Finally, research can return the favor to theorists by evaluating competing theo- ries.
For example, one theory of learning, including language learning, maintains that humans are sensitive to the frequency of events and experiences and that this sensitivity shapes their learning. Within this theory, linguistic elements are abstracted from exposure to language and from language use.
A competing theory maintains that language learning takes place www. Each of these two theo- ries can generate predictions, or hypotheses, about how language acquisition will take place under specific conditions. These hypotheses can then be tested against observations and the findings of empirical studies.
As we mentioned at the outset of this chapter, one of the roles of theories is to explain observed phenomena. Theo- ries in science attempt to explain these observations, that is, tell why they exist.
In the field of SLA research, a number of observations have been cataloged e. At the end of the chapter are references for more detailed accounts of these observations. Observation 1: Exposure to input is necessary for SLA. This observation means that acquisition will not happen for learners of a second language unless they are exposed to input. Input is defined as language the learner hears or reads and attends to for its meaning. Language the learner does not respond to for its meaning such as language used in a mechanical drill is not input.
Although everyone agrees that input is necessary for SLA, not everyone agrees that it is sufficient.
Observation 2: A good deal of SLA happens incidentally. Inci- dental acquisition can occur with any aspect of language e. Observation 3: Learners come to know more than what they have been exposed to in the input. Captured here is the idea that learners attain unconscious knowledge about the L2 that could not come from the input alone. For example, learners come to know what is ungrammatical in a language, such as the constraints on wanna contraction that we saw earlier in this chapter.
These constraints are not taught and are not evident in the samples of language learners hear. Another kind of unconscious knowledge that learners attain involves ambiguity. Learners come to know, for example, that the sentence John told Fred that he was going to sing can mean that either John will sing or Fred will sing.
Learners from all language backgrounds show evidence of the following stages: Stage 1: No want that. Stage 2: He no want that. Stage 3: Stage 4: Negation is attached to modal verbs: Stage 5: Negation is attached to auxiliaries: For example, in English, -ing is mastered before regular past tense, which is mastered before irregular past tense forms, which in turn are mastered before third-person present tense -s. Observation 5: Second language learning is variable in its outcome.
Here we mean that not all learners achieve the same degree of unconscious knowledge about a second language. They may also vary on speaking ability, comprehension, and a variety of other aspects of language knowledge and use. This may happen even under the same conditions of exposure.
Learners under the same conditions may be at different stages of developmental sequences or be further along than others in acquisition orders. What is more, it is a given that most learners do not achieve native-like ability in a second language. Observation 6: Second language learning is variable across linguistic subsystems.
Lan- guage is made up of a number of components that interact in different ways. Learners may vary in whether the syntax is more developed compared with the sound system, for example. Observation 7: There are limits on the effects of frequency on SLA. It has long been held that frequency of occurrence of a linguistic feature in the input correlates with whether it is acquired early or late, for example. However, frequency is not www. In some cases, something very frequent takes longer to acquire than something less frequent.
Observation 8: Evidence of the effects of the first language on SLA has been around since the beginning of con- temporary SLA research i. It is clear, however, that the first language does not have massive effects on either processes or outcomes, as once thought.
We will review one particular theory in Chapter 2. Instead, it seems that the influence of the first language is somehow selective and also varies across individual learners.
Observation 9: There are limits on the effects of instruction on SLA. Teachers and learners of languages often believe that what is taught and practiced is what gets learned.
The research on instructed SLA says otherwise. First, instruction some- times has no effect on acquisition. As one example, instruction has not been shown to cause learners to skip developmental sequences or to alter acquisition orders. Second, some research has shown that instruction is detrimental and can slow down acquisition processes by causing stagnation at a given stage. On the other hand, there is also evidence that in the end, instruction may affect how fast learners progress through sequences and acquisition orders and possibly how far they get in those sequences and orders.
Thus, there appear to be beneficial effects from instruction, but they are not direct and not what many people think. Observation There are limits on the effects of output learner production on lan- guage acquisition.
There is evidence that having learners produce language has an effect on acquisition, and there is evidence that it does not. What seems to be at issue, then, is that whatever role learner production i. Again, the role of a theory is to explain these phenomena. It is not enough for a theory to say they exist or to predict them; it also has to provide an underlying explanation for them. For example, natural orders and stages exist.
But why do they exist and why do they exist in the form they do? Why do the stages of nega- tion look the way they do? As another example, why is instruction limited? What is it about language acquisition that puts constraints on it?
And if instruction can speed up processes, why can it? As you read through the various theories in this volume, you will see that cur- rent theories in SLA may explain close to all, some, or only a few of the phenom- ena. What is more, the theories will differ in their explanations as they rely on different premises and different constructs.
Hulstijn defines the distinction in learning as follows: Explicit learning is input processing with the conscious intention to find out whether the input information contains regularities and, if so, to work out the concepts and rules with which these regularities can be captured.
Implicit learning is input processing without such an intention, taking place unconsciously. Not all researchers agree. Ellis a offers a definition of explicit learning that includes intentionality, demands on attentional resources, and awareness of what is being learned and a definition of implicit learning as learning that takes place when all of these features are absent.
Thus, the issue that confronts us here is not the role of instruction that is handled by Observation 9. As we mentioned, the relative roles or contributions of explicit and implicit learning are debated in SLA. Does SLA fully or largely involve explicit learning? Does it fully or largely involve implicit learning? Or does SLA somehow engage both explicit and implicit learning, and if so, how, under what conditions, and for what aspects of language? On one hand, some scholars have questioned whether learning without awareness is even possible.
On the other hand, others have ques- tioned whether explicit learning can ever provide the basis for spontaneous and automatic retrieval of knowledge. Indeed, embedded within these questions about learning is the distinction between explicit and implicit knowledge. Ellis b asserts both a behavioral and neurobiological basis for this distinction.
Implicit and explicit learning and knowledge are clearly related yet distinct concepts Schmidt, Ellis a connects them by referring to the resulting representations of the two types of learning. Specifically, he claims that implicit learning leads to subsymbolic knowl- edge representations, whereas explicit learning results in symbolic representations, allowing learners to verbalize what they have learned.
Regardless of the how one defines the two types of knowledge, the major ques- tion that has challenged researchers is the nature of any interface between them. Although most scholars agree that implicit knowledge is the goal of acquisition, how does implicit knowledge develop? Can explicit knowledge become implicit? Does explicit knowledge somehow aid the acquisition of implicit knowledge? Or are they completely separate systems, which, under most conditions of SLA, do not interact?
Because the field has not yet arrived at a consensus on these questions, and because there is conflicting evidence on the relative roles of explicit and implicit learning, we cannot offer an observation like those that have preceded this section.
Therefore, we are asking the contributors to this volume to address explicit and implicit learning and knowledge in a special section in each chapter, asking them to discuss what each theory or framework would claim about the two types of learning and the development of the two types of knowledge.
About This Volume In this volume, we have asked some of the foremost proponents of particular theories and models to describe and discuss them in an accessible manner to the beginning student of SLA theory and research. As they do so, the various authors address particular topics and questions so that the reader may compare and con- trast theories more easily: Thus, the theories and perspectives taken in the present volume—for the most part—reflect such orientations.
To be sure, there are social perspectives that can be brought to bear on SLA see Atkinson, ; Block, In excluding such perspectives from the present volume, we do not suggest that they are unimportant for the field of SLA research as a whole. Instead, our intention is to gather those approaches that currently compete to explain the acquisition of a linguistic system with primary emphasis on syntax, morphology, and, to a lesser degree, the lexicon.
Discussion Questions 1. In what ways do theories affect our everyday lives? Try to list and discuss examples from politics, education, and society. Discuss a theory from the past that has been disproved. Also discuss a theory from the past that has stood the test of time. Do you notice any differences between these theories in terms of their structures? Is one simpler than the other? Does one rely on nonnatural constructs for explanation?
Theories are clearly useful in scientific ventures and may have practical appli- cations. They have also become useful, if not necessary, in the behavioral and social sciences. In what way is the study of SLA a scientific venture rather than, say, a humanistic one? Reexamine the list of observable phenomena. Are you familiar with all of them and the empirical research behind them?
Is there an observable phenomenon in particular you would like to see explained? Select one and, during the course of the readings, keep track of how each theory accounts for this phenomenon. Suggested Further Reading Atkinson, D.
Alternative approaches to second language acquisition. New York, NY: This volume presents six approaches to SLA that complement or contrast with cognitive approaches to the field. Two of the approaches are represented in this volume. Ellis, R. The study of second language acquisition 2nd ed.
Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. This volume is a comprehensive overview of the field that continues to be an excellent resource on many topics in the field. Gass, S.
Second language acquisition: An introductory course 4th ed. This is a basic introduction to the field in a form that is accessible to readers new to the field. It includes authentic data-based problems at the end of each chapter that help readers grapple with issues typical of SLA research.
Theoretical and empirical issues in the study of implicit and explicit second language learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27, — This article is the introduction to a special issue on implicit and explicit learning and knowledge in SLA. As such, it provides a good overview of the issues on this topic. Lightbown, P. How languages are learned 4th ed. This volume is aimed at teachers and focuses on language acquisition in classroom settings.
Long, M. The least a second language acquisition theory needs to explain. The observations listed in this chapter are based, in part, on this seminal article.
Rothman, J. On multiplicity and mutual exclusivity: The case for different theories. Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins. This chapter, while taking a generative perspective on language, argues that different theories exist because of the complexity of acquisition, suggesting that multiple theories may be necessary to understand acquisition in its entirety. VanPatten, B. From input to output: This is an introductory volume for teachers with little background in SLA.
It focuses on how input data are processed, what the linguistic system looks like and how it changes, and how learners acquire the ability to produce language, among other aspects of acquisition. References Atkinson, D. Birdsong, D. Second language acquisition and the critical period hypothesis. Mah- wah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Block, D. The social turn in second language acquisition. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edin- burgh University Press. DeKeyser, R. Implicit and explicit learning. Long Eds. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Implicit and explicit learning, knowledge and instruction. Ellis, S. Loewen, C. Elder, R. Erlam, J. Reinders Eds. Bristol, England: Multilin- gual Matters.
Retrospect and prospect. Multilingual Matters. Hulstijn, J. Incidental and intentional learning. Cam- bridge University Press.
Studies in Second Language Learning, 27, — The structure of scientific revolutions 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Schmidt, R. Deconstructing consciousness: In search of useful definitions for applied linguistics. AILA Review, 11, — The first period is marked by the use of behaviorism—a theory taken from psychology—to account for both first and second language acquisition and by structuralist approaches to the study of language.
Subsequently, as empiri- cal research on both first and second language acquisition demonstrated some major problems with the structuralist-behaviorist account of language learning, the field of SLA entered a period in which multiple theories emerged, attempting to account for SLA.
There were many competing accounts and explanations of various aspects of SLA at that time see the suggested readings for further infor- mation on these. Some of these have evolved and remain influential; others have faded from prominence. The dominant theory in this early period, however, is one that retains considerable influence today: In this chapter, we explore both the structuralist-behaviorist approach and Monitor Theory, both of which have had lasting impact on SLA, particularly for classroom instruction.
Behaviorism and Structural Linguistics Since its beginnings, the field of SLA has drawn theoretical inspiration from other fields. Indeed its origins lie in a practical orientation to language teach- ing. Before the field of SLA theory and research was established, notions of how people acquired nonprimary languages those not learned as a first language in childhood were closely tied to pedagogical concerns.
An outgrowth of the U. The Theory and Its Constructs Behaviorism is a theory of animal and human behavior. It attempts to explain behavior without reference to mental events or internal processes. Rather, all behavior is explained solely with reference to external factors in the environment. Many date the ori- gins of modern behaviorism to this research. In one experiment, a tone sounded whenever the dogs were fed. Thus, when the dogs heard the sound the stimulus , they anticipated a meal, and they would begin salivating the response.
What Pav- lov demonstrated was that when the dogs heard the sound, yet no food appeared, they salivated anyway. Because of the repeated association of the sound with food, after a series of trials, the sound alone caused the dogs to salivate.
This is called classical conditioning. Specifically, this means that in a given context, two events are naturally connected eating and salivating , and then a third event the sound is introduced. After a series of repetitions, the association of the third event alone can trigger the response. Salivating in the presence of food is a natural response for dogs; it is a reflex action. Behaviorists believed the same to be true for human behavior: They reasoned, for instance, that if a child cries and then is picked up by a caregiver, he will develop the habit of crying to summon the caregiver.
If his cry brings no response, he will abandon this strategy. This reliance on association to explain behavior is the hallmark of behaviorism. In addition, there is a significant role for frequency. Each time a response is made to the stimulus, the association between them is strengthened.
If the organism no longer receives the stimulus, the response behavior is expected to diminish, a process referred to as extinction. Repeated exposure, therefore, is an important factor in developing new behaviors. Finally, behaviorists claimed there could be an association among the responses themselves, which initially could be triggered by the external stimulus. For example, a mouse moving through a maze would respond to the initial stimulus of a piece of cheese.
In the same way, typists would associate certain letters with one another in a predictable sequence: Simply by typing the sequence th, the typist may end up typ- ing a word like the without even thinking about it. Behaviorists took this idea a step further, with the concept of operant or behavioral conditioning.
This is a feedback system, in which reinforcement and punishment can induce an organism to engage in new behaviors: Chickens can learn to dance, pigeons to bowl, and people to speak new languages. In operant conditioning, www. For example, if a chicken is conditioned to dance in response to food, but the provision of food is also accompanied by a flashing light, eventually, the chicken will dance in response to the flashing light, even if no food is provided.
Behaviorists contended that mental processes were not involved in this process; it was purely a result of the association of events, a response to environmental stim- uli and subsequent reinforcement or punishment. In effect, these are both responses to the response. Reinforcement encourages continuation of the response behavior whereas punishment discourages continuation of the response.
A rat that engages in a behavior e. If, conversely, it receives a shock, it is more likely to stop the behavior. These ideas were soon applied to human behavior, along with the notion that thoughts, feelings, and intentions were not necessarily involved in human behavior, which, like animal behavior, was seen as set of responses to external stimuli. This concept is central to behaviorism and contrasts sharply with approaches to learning that followed it.
Within behaviorism, all learning—including language learning—is seen as the acquisition of a new behavior. The environment is the most important factor in learning.
Learning consists of developing responses to environmental stimuli. If these responses receive positive reinforcement, they will be repeated. If the responses receive punishment in the case of language learning, error correction , they will be abandoned.
A child learns a language by imitating sounds and struc- tures that she hears in the environment. If she produces an utterance that brings a positive response, she is likely to do so again. If there is no response or a negative response, repetition is less probable. Thus, language learning is seen as similar to any other kind of learning, from multiplication to yodeling: According to this theory, SLA occurs in a similar fashion.
To learn a sec- ond language L2 , one must imitate correct models repeatedly. Learning of novel forms can also occur through analogy; for example, learners of English can acquire plural marking on nouns by analogy to previously learned forms: Positive reinforcement of accurate imitations and correction of inaccurate imitation facilitates the learning process.
It is important to note the important role for output in this theory. Learning requires repeated engagement in the target behavior, in this case, the production of the L2.
Active participation by the learner is considered a crucial element of the learning process. The salient characteristic of SLA that differentiates it from child language learn- ing is that L2 learners already know a first language L1 , which must be overcome in the process of acquiring a second language. This process is difficult but can be facilitated by appropriate instruction.
Ideal learning conditions include plenti- ful and accurate models and immediate and consistent feedback. Such a position has clear consequences for L2 instruction. This process should be repeated until these behaviors have become automatic and error-free. Behaviorism was not the only impetus behind this approach to language learn- ing and teaching.
It was closely linked to structural linguistics, which offered a com- patible theory of language. Structural linguistics presented language as based on a finite set of predictable patterns. Language could be analyzed as a series of build- ing blocks, beginning from the sound system all the way to sentence structure.
The goal of structural linguistics was careful description. Explanation—why the language operates as it does—was not seen as within the purview of linguis- tics.
Because structural linguistics portrayed language as based on a discrete and finite set of patterns, it blended easily with behaviorism, which viewed learning as the acquisition of a discrete set of behaviors. Behaviorism offered several constructs, such as conditioning, reinforcement, and punishment, which remain important today. Theories in second language acquisition. New York, NY: Document, Internet resource Document Type: Bill VanPatten Jessica Williams.
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Van Patten Ed. Skill acquisition theory. Williams Ed. Introduction: Investigation of form-focused instruction. Language Learning, 51, Supplement 1, Farley, Andrew a. The relative effects of processing instruction and meaning-based output instruction.
In: Bill VanPatten ed. Processing Instruction. Farley, Andrew b Processing instruction and the Spanish subjunctive: Is explicit information needed? The relative effects of Processing Instruction and meaning based output instruction on L2 acquisition of the English subjunctive. ELT Research Journal, 1 2 , Fotos, S. Form focused instruction and teacher education: Studies in honor of Rod Ellis. Oxford: Oxford University Izumi, S. Comprehension and production processes in second language learning In search of the psycholinguistic rationale of the output hypothesis.
Applied Linguistics, 24 2 , Izumi, Y. Investigating the effects of oral output on the learning of relative clauses in English: Issues in the psycholinguistic requirements for effective output tasks. Canadian Modern Language Review, 60 5 , — Keating, G. Processing instruction, meaning-based output instruction, and Meaning-based drills: impacts on classroom L2 acquisition of Spanish object Hispania, 91 3 , Leeser, Michael J. Investigating the secondary effects of processing instruction in Spanish: From instruction on accusative clitics to Transfer-of- Training effects on dative clitics.