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SLA is a complex interdisciplinary Iield whose aim is to understand the process

underlying the learning oI a SL.
It reIers to the process oI learning another language aIter the native language has
been learned. Sometimes the term reIers to the learning oI a third or Iourth language.
SLA, unlike Ioreign language learning, it`s the learning oI a non native language in
the environments in which that language is spoken.
SLA is an unpredictable phenomenon. There is no single way by which every student
can learn the language. Nevertheless, there are aspects oI SLA that are uniIorm: they
are called stable aspects oI SLA.
There are many reasons to study SLA:
! linguistics ( the determination oI linguistic constraints
! on he Iormation oI SL grammars)
! language pedagogy
! cross cultural communication ( many stereotypes oI people Irom other
cultures are based on patterns oI non native speech)
What needs to be learned?
The complex knowledge we have about our nl is largely unconscious.
Systematically aspects oI language are phonology, syntax, morphology, semantics,
Syntax is Irequently know as grammar, that is the knowledge we have oI the order oI
elements in a sentence . There are 2 kinds oI grammar:
1. prescriptive grammars rules learned in school, oIten regardless to the way
native speakers use language. native speakers Irequently violate these rules.
2. descriptive grammars language as it's actually used ; is the knowledge oI
syntax, studied by linguists.
It involves the knowledge oI:
which are possible sentences and which are not
the order in which elements can and cannot occur
which sentences are grossly equivalent in terms oI meaning
when to use diIIerent grammatical patterns
how meaning is aIIected by moving elements within a sentence
~ Knowing a language is knowing a set oI rules with which we can produce
an inIinite set oI sentences ( language is rule-governed)

The Iield oI SLA has in large part been dependent on the research in child language
Two important aspects in FLA:
1. Uniqueness oI children's early utterances, no native speaking adults could have
produced them.
2. Development is continuous and incremental, but could be best characterized as
a series oI stages.
Stages oI language acquisition`s process
! 0-6 months: cries and vocalizations (cooing sounds) to communicate their
! 6 months: children start babbling, usually with the sequence cv and use
intonation to express meaning. in this phase labial occlusives are more Irequent
than Iricatives and low vowels are more Irequent than high vowels.
! 8-10 months: babbling starts to show properties oI the language being learnt.
! 10-12 months: one word stage (ex. allgone) mixed with babbling.
! 14-15 months: children get the concept oI words as reIerring to something.
Once this occurs there is a drop-oII in the amount oI babbling.
! 18-22 months: two word stage. in this phase children are able to learn Irom 5 to
9 words per day. this words are content words, that is nouns and verbs.
! 22-36 months: emergence oI morpho-syntax.
Words in early child language have diIIerent Iunctions:
! they can reIer to objects, such as ba Ior bottle
! they can indicate many grammatical Iunctions, such as commands
! they can serve social Iunctions, such as bye and hi
Overextension: children oIten overextend the meanings oI words they know
Underextension: children oIten underuse words, that is, they use words with more
restricted meaning
Sounds and Pronunciation
The pronunciation oI children's words diIIers to that oI adult speech:
! substitutions, such as wabbit Ior rabbit
! deletion oI syllables, such as dedo Ior potato
! deletion oI sounds, such as tein Ior train
Children can perceive diIIerences, although they don't make the diIIerences in theyr
own speech.
There is a predictable development Ior all children.
Brown (1973): studying 3 children learning English realizes that there is a
predictable order oI acquisition oI certain inIlectional morphemes. The 3 children
learn English morphemes in the same order although this doesn't always occur at
precisely the same age. The order doesn't reIlect the Irequency oI these morphemes in
the speech oI the children's parents.
There may be many reasons Ior the existence oI this order. Among them:
! salience (ex. The morpheme -ing, as in walking, can receive stress and is
salient, whereas the morpheme -ed, as in walked, cannot)
! syllabicity (are they syllables?)
! lack oI exception (the possessive ending -'s is used without exception, whereas
the past tense -ed has exceptions in irregular verbs.
The period oI child SLA is the ages between 5 and 9, when the primary language is
mostly settled.
In general, children have better phonology but older learners oIten achieve better l2
Mc laughlin (1978): in child SLA the inIluence oI l1 is greater, the more diIIicult the
structural problem is.
The term multilingualism reIers traditionally to the linguistic skills oI an individual
who is able to use with the same competency various diIIerent languages in one
interlinguistics communicative situation.
, but
recent research sustains that it's best to view multilingualism on a continuum ranging
Irom Iull competence in language A to Iull competence in language N.
DiIIerences between l2 and l3 learning
! l3 learners have more experience and use more strategies and metalinguistic
! there are issues oI level oI competence ( l3 knowledge is not always lower than
l2 knowledge) and linguistic interdependence (l2 acquisition can potentially
inIluence l2 acquisition)
The activation oI languages other than the native language in the acquisition oI the l3
depends on diIIerent Iactors:
! psychotypology the perceived linguistic distance between languages
! recency oI use
! the level oI proIiciency in the target language
! the tendency in language learners to activate an earlier l2 in l3
the multilingual acquisition and use is particularly complex since it change over time
and it is reversible resulting in language attrition or/ and loss.
In TLA there are at least 4 acquisition orders:
1. the 3 languages are learnt consecutively
2. ' simultaneously
3. ' beIore learning the l3
4. ' aIter the acquisition oI the l1

An important concept in m. is multilingual proIiciency, given by:
ls1,ls2,ls3,lsnclinmultilingualism IactorsMULTILINGUAL PROFICIENCY
CLIN cross-linguistic inIluence (transIer, interIerence, code-switching)
Multilingualism Iactor all those qualities which develop in a multilingual
speaker/learner due to the increase in language contact (ex. language management
skills; language maintenance skills).
The most important oI these qualities is metalinguistic awareness the ability to
reIlect and talk about the object oI language and the cognitive strategies that the
learner uses to acquire it.
in contrast to monolinguals, multilinguals have
! a diIIerent knowledge oI their l1 and l2
! a diIIerent kind oI metalinguistic awareness
! a diIIerent language processing system

CA develops Irom the behaviourist theory oI language.
BloomIield 'language (1933):
behaviourism Iocuses on HABITS, given by an association oI
speech is the practical reaction (responce) to some stimulus. Stimulus and responce
run to a reinIorcement.
Children acquire their l1 by imitating utterances produced by adults and receiving a
positive Ieedback or a correction. In this view, speaking consist oI mimicking and
SLA works the same way:
SLA is seen as the development oI a new set oI habits. given that old habits prevent
the acquisition oI new habits, l1 is the major cause Ior lack oI success in SLA
(transIer~ interIerence)
LANGUAGE TRANSFER is a subIield oI SLA which is concerned with the role oI
the native language. The notion oI transIer, that was widely used in the Iirst halI oI
the twentieth century, reIers to the psychological process where old knowledge/skills
are transIerred to a new situation. The acceptance or rejection oI language transIer as
a Iundamental concept, has been related to the acceptance or rejection oI the
behaviorist theory, whit which it has been associated..

'individuals tend to transfer the forms and meanings and the distribution of the
forms and meanings of their nl to the foreign language, both productivelv and
'those elements that are similar to his native language will be simple for him and
those elements that are different will be difficult` (Lado,1957)
Distinction between positive transIer(also known as Iacilitation) and negative transIer
(also known as interIerence). these terms reIer respectively to whether transIer results
in something correct or something incorrect.
'the greater the difference between 2 svstems, the greater the learning problems and
the area of interference.`
' interference deviation from the norms of either language` (Weinreich
`differences between languages` 1953)
Regarding to INTERFERENCE there are 2 main types:
! retroactive inhibition
! proactive inhibition.
RI occurs when learning acts back on previous learned materials, causing someone to
Iorget (language loss).
InterIerence is the result oI proactive inhibition, which occurs when previous
learning prevents or inhibits the learning oI new habits.

There are 2 diIIerent types oI CA:
! the nord american tradition/'applied CA Iocuses on language teaching and
language learning
! the european tradition (subdiscipline oI linguistics).
The book Iocuses on the Iormer tradition, as it relates more directly to the Iield oI
CA develops Irom behaviourism, because iI in the SLA a new set oI habits must
replace an older one, is it also necessary to compare the rules oI the 2 languages.
CA is a way oI comparing and contrasting languages in search oI diIIerences and
similarities aimed at predicting errors (errors should be avoided). DiIIiculty and ease
in learning are determined respectively by diIIerences and similarities between the 2
languages in contrast.
In learning a l2 it is necessary to learn only the diIIerences. Similarities can be
ignored as they don`t carry new learning.
There are 2 positions that develop with regard to the CAH:
1. strong version/a priori view/predictive view
possibility oI make predictions about learning, that is, about the success oI
language-teaching materials based on a comparison between 2 languages.
2. weak version - a posteriori view - explanatory view
starts with an analysis oI learner`s recurring errors and then try to explain those
errors on the basis oI nl-tl diIIerences.
With the Iailure oI predictive CA gains credence the weak version, which come to be
part oI error analysis.
In the 60`, the behaviourist theory oI language and language learning begins to be
modiIied. Language comes to be seen as a set oI structured rules instead oI habits and
LA not as imitation but as active rule Iormation (UG)
-Empirical criticism
Works oI Stockwell, Bowen and Martin (1965), don`t separate the results oI language
comparison into easy and diIIicult and thereIore separate the needs oI learning into a
yes/no position, but establish a hierarchy oI diIIicult and, by implication, a hierarchy
oI learning.
The most diIIicult category is that in which there is diIIerentiation: the nl has one
Iorm, whereas the target language has 2 (to known vs sapere conoscere)
Dulay and Burt, at the end oI the 70`s, with a study on spanish children learning
english, show that only 3 oI errors is due to interIerence (thereIore learners
construct the L2 as an indipendent system, as in L1 acquisition).
Theoretical criticism
Chomsky reviews Skinner`s verbal behavior, Iocusing on the concepts oI creativity oI
language and poverty oI stimulus.
Practical criticism
There is a change oI attitude towards the role oI error in language learning (error
! avoidance
! saliency
! degree oI similarity that results in diIIerent learning rates
! l1 interIerence considered as a learner strategy
! the learner`s l1 is an important determinant oI sla, but not the only one and
may be not the most important one.
! the l1 is a resource oI knowledge which learners use both consciously and
! perhaps the most unsatisIactory aspect oI traditional CA is the assumption that
the L1 inIluence is a negative one.

EA is a type oI linguistic analysis that Iocuses on the errors learners make. It`s similar
to the weak version oI CA since both start Irom learner production data, but in CA the
comparison is made with the native language, whereas in error analysis it`s made
with the tl.
Corder 'the significance of learners error:
Errors provide evidence oI a rule governed system, they are to be viewed as the
learner`s attempt to impose regularity on the target language.
Corder distinguishes between errors and mistakes. Mistakes are generally one-time
events whereas errors are systematic and occur when the learner has incorporated an
erroneous Iorm (Irom the perspective oI the tl) into his system.
There are 2 main error types:
Interlingual those that can be attributed to the nl and involve cross-linguistic
Intralingual/developmental those that are due to the language being learned.
Schachter (1974) studies the use oI english restrictive relative clauses by
diIIerent nl learners oI english. The results show that nl is a determining Iactor
in relative clause production but these Iacts would not be apparent trough an
error analysis alone.
The absence oI error doesn`t mean correct rule Iormation; it only suggests a
limited sampling inclination.
Dulay and Burt (1974) sustain the Iact that sometimes is impossible to
determine whether an error is oI one type or another~ they establish a
category called ambiguous gooIs those errors that can be categorized as
either interIerence-like gooIs or l1 developmental gooIs.

EA, although important in the recognition that learners are more than passive
hiccupers oI nl, Ialls in the analysis oI l2 data in that it only sees a partial picture oI
what a learner produces oI the l2.

Universal Grammar is the mechanism in the mind which allows children to construct
a grammar out of the raw language materials supplied bv their parents. (Cook, 1997)
InIants know things about language in general and their mother tongue. InIants
oI Iour days have a preIerence not only Ior their mother's voice, but also Ior her
language, they recognize the rhythm oI their mother tongue. Something in their
brain is guiding them towards language acquisition.
One oI the major exponents oI the UGA is Chomsky.
C is not the Iirst to suggest that all languages have certain Iundamental things in
common , but he helps to make the innateness theory respectable aIter a period
dominated by more behaviourist attitudes towards language.
The theorv of a particular language is its grammar. The theorv of languages and the
expressions thev generate is Universal Grammar (Chomsky, 1997)
~Aspects of the theory of syntax(1965)
C. introduce a central idea oI the grammatical theories: The distinction between
competence and perIormance.
C. notes that people, when speaking in the real world, oIten make linguistic errors
(e.g., starting a sentence and then abandoning it midway through). He argues that
these errors in linguistic perIormance(the actual use oI language in concrete
situations) are irrelevant to the study oI linguistic competence (the knowledge that
allows people to construct and understand grammatical sentences). Consequently, the
linguist can study an idealised version oI language, with an ideal speaker-listener,
greatly simpliIying linguistic analysis.
A grammar oI language claims to be a description oI the ideal speaker-hearer's
competence. II the grammar is perIectly explicit, that is, iI it doesn't rely on the
intelligence oI the understanding reader but provides an explicit analysis oI his
contribution, it constitutes a generative grammar.
Generative grammar-~ is a system oI rules that assigns structural descriptions to
sentences. These rules predict which combinations oI words will Iorm grammatical
sentences. Chomsky argues that many oI the properties oI a g.g. arise Irom an innate
universal grammar.
UG The svstem of principles, conditions and rules that are elements or properties of
all humane languages.
~A review of B.F. Skinner's - Verbal Behaviour-
In the review C. criticizes behaviourist theories oI language acquisition and proposes
the existence oI an innate, biologically endowed language Iaculty considering:
! The poverty oI the stimulus: children come to know certain properties oI
grammar that are not learnable Irom input (e.g. well-Iormedness oI an
! The ability to continuously generate new structures and the creativity in using
them: 'One of the qualities that all languages have in common is their creative
aspect. Language provides the means of an utterance for expressing
indefinitelv manv thoughts and for reacting appropriatelv in an indefinite
range of situations.`
! The Iact that the process oI language acquisition is essentially the same Ior
every language and Iollows the same stages
! Child language does not seem to be linked to intelligence
C comes to the conclusion that language cannot be explained as a behaviour guided
by a series oI stimuli and responses ( language as habit-Iormation). There has to be
something in human brains that guides us in the process oI language acquisition:
Language acquisition device (LAD) It's an innate predisposition to acquire
language. It provides the children with an eIIicient statistical ability which allows
them to identiIy word boundaries.
~Lectures on Government and Binding (1981)
It's here that C. proposes the notion oI UG.
UG is the mechanism that allows human beings to learn a language. it is constituted
bv rules that guide the process of language acquisition, it provides linguistic
constraints to the grammar of the language that is learnt through principles and
parameters (ug speciIies the limits oI a possible language, reducing the task Ior
are invariant rules. Their presence in every language is seen as prooI oI their
innateness. Examples oI principles are:
! EPP (extended projection principle): in every sentence there has to be the
subject position.
! Structure dependency principle: sentences are not built or interpreted according
to their linear order but have a hierarchical structure .
E.g. subject-auxiliary inversion in English: -She will laugh Will she laugh?
! ECP ( empty category principle) : every empty category has to be c-
commanded by its antecedent. C-command is a relationship between nodes in a
syntax tree: a node dominates another node iI it's above it in the tree.
! Subset principle: predicts that the learner's Iirst choice is to assume a smaller
grammar, that is, the grammar that is a subset oI the other. Thus, given a
choice, a learner will unconsciously assume that the grammar allowing the
more limited set oI sentences is the correct one.
Moving Irom a subset system to a superset system requires only that the
inIormation be available Irom the input, whereas moving Irom a superset
system to a subset system requires additional inIormation (e.g. correction) *
are rules that have a binary choice: they must be set according to the requirements oI
the language being learned. Once a parameter is set in a particularly way, all related
properties are aIIected. Examples oI parameters are:
! Pro-drop parameter: involves many properties- the omission oI subject
pronouns, the inversion oI subjects and verbs in declarative sentences, the
extraction oI a subject out oI a clause that contains a complementizer. A
language may either have all oI these properties or none oI theme. Languages
like Italian and Spanish are pro-drop, whereas English and French are pro-
! Null subject parameter: the possibility to omit the subject or not. English is a
non- NS language while Italian is a NS language.
! Head-parameter: the head oI the phrase precedes or Iollows its complement -
head Iirst or head last languages
! Verb movement parameter: the possibility to move the verb or not


Language acquisition parameter setting
To acquire his L1 the child has to set the value oI the parameter according to the input
he is exposed to.
The mistakes present in child languages are mainly due to overgeneralization
oI rules (e.g. *goed instead oI went) or the application oI other parametric option,
but they are not random.
There are two kinds oI evidence available to learners as they make hypotheses about
correct and incorrect language Iorms:
! Positive evidence: it comes Irom the speech learners hear or read, composed oI
a limited set oI well-Iormed utterances oI the target language. When a
particular sentence type is not heard, one doesn't know whether it's not heard
because oI its impossibility in the language or because oI coincidence. - The
sentences that provide the input to the learner are known as positive evidence.
It's on the basis oI positive evidence that linguistic hypothesis can be made.
! Negative evidence: it's composed oI inIormation to a learner that his utterance
is deviant with regard to the target language (e.g. That's not right).
Because positive evidence alone cannot delineate the range oI possible and
impossible sentences and because negative evidence is not Irequent, there must be
innate principles that constrain a priori the possibilities oI grammar Iormation.

The assumption that Ug is central in child language acquisition has long been
maintained by many, but only recently has it been applied to SLA.
Many researches showed that L1 and L2 learners use the same strategies oI
However, SLA diIIers Irom the process oI L1 acquisition Ior various Iactors. Among
! Age: we usually learn SLs at diIIerent ages, but never Irom birth as in L1.
! Learning process: in SLA, there is an explicit eIIort to learn language and the
learner needs instructions and corrections.
! Equipotentiality in FLA: every child at birth has the potential to learn whatever
language he will be exposed to, while in L2 acquisition we Iind easier to learn
languages typologically closer to our L1.
! Level oI competence: at the end oI the L1 acquisition process every speaker
reaches the same level oI competence, while L2 learners will not have the same
! Success: in L1 acquisition success is sure, while in L2 acquisition complete
success is very rare. In addition to that, in L2 a. , diIIerently Irom L1 a.,
aIIective Iactors such as personality or motivation play a great role in
determining proIiciency.
! Fossilization: L2 learners, unlike L1, oIten cease to develop and also backslide
(return to earlier stages oI development).
The role oI the UG in SLA has been debated over the last 20 years and 3 mayn
hypothesis have been considered:
! No access to UG: Ug is not involved in L2 acquisition as it atrophies with age.
( Fundamental DiIIerence Hypothesis by Bley-Vroman and Schachter)
! Partial access to UG: some aspects oI UG are still available and others are not;
Ior example, principles may still be available but some parameters not.
! Full access to UG: L1 and L2 are basically similar processes.
( Access to UG Hypothesis)
Transfer in the UG perspective
Reconsideration oI the concept oI transIer:
White notes 4 areas that make current views oI transIer truly diIIerent Irom earlier
conceptualizations. Three oI these areas are:
! Levels oI representation: given that sentences have multiple levels oI
representation, transIer could occur not just on the basis oI surIace acts, but
also on the basis oI underlying structures (competence).
! Clustering: There are properties that cluster together within a parameter - A
model that involves structural relatedness clearly represents an innovative
approach to transIer.
! Learnability: TransIer, as it was early conceptualized, has not dealt with the
learnability and types oI evidence issues that UG is centrally concerned with.
(in UG is central the issue oI positive evidence)
Evaluation of UG-based approach
! It Iocuses on some aspects oI language and not others.
! It studies language as a mental object rather than as a social or psychological
! The emphasis is on linguistic competence; the study oI naturalistic
perIormance is seen as not very important in mental representation oI
! It has described the systematicity oI SLA
! It has explained transIer/cross linguistic inIluence in terms oI principles and
Environmentalist theories of SLA
They deny that innate contributions take part in the process oI learning.
The best known example is behaviourism.
Mentalist theories of SLA
The major exponents are Chomsky and Lenneberg.
They explain SLA by positing an innate biological endowment that makes learning
Interactionist theories of SLA
They are more powerIul than the other two types oI theories because they consider
both environmental and mental processes. They Iocus on the role that interaction has
in the modiIication and the learnability oI the input.

It's the structured language system the learner constructs at any stage in his
development. The system is composed by numerous elements, not every oI them
coming Irom the NL and the TL.
Principal Ieatures oI IL: permeable, dynamic and systematic.
Central is the concept oI Iossilization, that reIers to the cessation oI learning. (?)
It could be also be described as the series oI interlocking systems which Iorm what
Corder later called the learner`s built-in syllabus (interlanguage continuum).
Basilar assumptions oI IL:
! Language is a human-speciIic Iaculty.
! Language exists as an independent Iaculty in the human mind.
! The primary determinant oI L1 acquisition is the LAD which is genetically
! The LAD is no longer available aIter puberty.
! The process oI acquisition consists oI hypothesis testing, where errors are
evidence oI learner internal processing.

Selinker exposes the processes operating in interlanguage (1972) :

! Interlanguage transIer: the inIluence oI one L2 over another L2
! Overgeneralization oI target rules (ex. Goed instead oI went)
! TransIer oI training: a rule enters into the learner`s system as a result oI
Interlanguage could be seen as a:
! Restructuring continuum: the learner gradually restructurs the system as he
acquires Ieatures oI the L2.

Recreation continuum: the learner slowly creates the rule system oI the L2
more or less in the same way as in the child`s acquisition oI the L1.
Diffusion model (Gatbonton, 1978)
The model sustains the existence oI two broad phases oI development oI an
interlanguage rule:
! acquisition phase no go
! replacement phase don't go
Learning strategies
ReIer to the learner's approach to the material to be learned
Communication strategies
A communication strategy reIer to the learner's approach to the communication with
native speakers. Is a deliberate attempt to express meaning in case oI diIIiculty in the
L2. Examples oI communication strategies are:
! circumlocutions use oI various descriptive devices to get the meaning across
! approximation IL Iorm 'pipe vs TL Iorm 'waterpipe
! literal translation
! language switch IL Iorm 'balon vs TL Iorm 'balloon
! avoidance IL Iorm 'the water (mumble) vs TL Iorm 'the water spills
Interlanguage pragmatics
It deals with how people use language within a social context.
The studies in interlanguage pragmatics has been conducted within the Iramework oI
speech acts. These are Iunctions oI language, such as thanking, apologizing or
requesting. Probably speech acts are universal, yet the Iorm varies Irom culture to
culture; this causes miscommunication and misunderstandings.

In the early 1970's a bunch oI studies called morpheme ( the minimal unit oI
meaning) order studies inIluences deeply the development oI the Iield oI SLA.
MOS are a reaction to behaviourism, which sustained a transIer approach to the study
Child second language morpheme order studies.
The MOS is initially based on work done in child language acquisition by Brown
(1973) . Dulay and Burt's (1974) study is the Iirst to apply Brown's Iindings to child
SLA. They hypothesize that child L1 acquisition is similar to child SLA ( known as
L1L2 hypothesis):
They introduce the concept oI 'Creative construction, that is the process in which
children guided by UG Iormulate hypothesis on the target language system. there are
strategies L2 common to all children, regardless oI their NL.
Dulay and Burt's data come Irom the results achieved by Spanish and Chinese
children on a standardized test oI English L2 known as the Bilingual Syntax Measure
(BSM). This test show a similar pattern oI development between the 2 groups oI
Baley, Madden and Krashen (1974) conduct a study to determinate whether the
Iindings oI Dulay and Burt would apply to the acquisition oI a second language by
adults. They study 2 groups oI learners, the Iirst comprised oI native speakers oI
Spanish and the second group comprised oI native speakers oI diIIerent languages.
The 2 adult groups show similar results and the mentalist position represented by
Dulay and Burt's creative construction gain credence.
On the basis oI these studies it can be sustained a 'natural order oI the acquisition oI
English morphemes.
There are two types oI morpheme studies:
a study oI a group oI diIIerent individuals at a single point in time, in order to
measure or study a speciIic aspect oI language acquisition, Ior example, the
acquisition oI the tense system.
Results show that, irrespective oI learner diIIerences, L2 learners progress
along the interlanguage continuum in a very similar way.
an individual or a group is studied over a period oI time, Ior example, to show
how the use oI the tense system changes and develops with age.
Results show that L2 learners progress trough a series oI developmental stages
(Transitional constructions).
A composite longitudinal picture
The first stage is characterized by a standard word order, irrespective oI whether this
is the word order oI the TL.
In the second stage oI development the learner expands his utterances and begins to
vary the word order in accordance with the pattern oI the TL.
In the third stage grammatical morphemes begin to be used systematically and
The fourth stage consists oI the acquisition oI complex structures like embedded
! They minimize the contribution oI the environment by emphasizing instead the
centrality oI mental processes, in particular the innate propensity Ior language.
! by emphasizing the role oI internal processing they ignored what may be the
most important Iactor in SLA, namely the relationship between input and
internal processing and the role that interaction plays in making such a
relationship IruitIul.
In the Iollowing years the basis Ior investigation will become the interactions
involving the learner and his interlocutor.

In the '80s takes place a reconceptualization oI language transIer:
Kellerman and Smith introduce the term cross-linguistic inIluence, which include
transIer, but also avoidance (the NL may inIluence which structures a learner
produces and which structures are not produced) , language loss and rate oI learning.
Overproduction reIers to the use oI NL structures in TL, even though the TL "
requires diIIerent Iorms Ior the same Iunctions (there is an inIluence on NL to L2).

Language users (included language learners) vary in the use they make oI their
linguistic knowledge. This variability can be:
1. Unsystematic
when two or more linguistic Iorms are used interchangeably with no apparent
diIIerence in meaning.
a)Iree u. variability Iorm-Iunction relationship is not yet established (e.g.
alternation between no and don't).

b)perIormance u. variability there is an increased proIiciency
2. Systematic
is evidence oI learner's need to impose regularity on their own IL system.
a)individual s. variability
b)contextual s. variability
when two or more linguistic Iorms vary contextually ( linguistic context and
situational context).
Tarone (1983) represents the eIIects oI situational
context as a continuum oI interlanguage styles. The learner's grammatical
system shows more systematicity or consistency in the vernacular stile, and
less in what she calls the superordinate style. In the superordinate style
the most attention is paid to speech Iorm.
Variability as a result oI linguistic context occurs when two diIIerent linguistic
contexts induce diIIerent Iorms even though in the TL they require the same
Iorm (e.g. John lives in Lancaster vs *John, who live in Lancaster, bought a
new car).
The learner slowly extends the contextual range oI the Iorms he has acquired,
by mastering their use in stylistic and linguistic context.
The eIIects oI situational and linguistic context interact to inIluence jointly the
learner's use oI interlanguage Iorms.

Like the Iield oI linguistics, the Iield oI psychology has inIluenced the study oI SLA,
but there is a great diIIerence regarding the relationship oI these two Iields with SLA.
Linguistics Iocuses on constraints on grammar Iormation, whereas in psychology, the
emphasis is on the actual mechanisms involved in SLA and on issues oI working,
memory and parsing.
Approaches to SLA with a basis in psycholinguistic processing are:
The competition model
similar to other psycholinguistic approaches to SLA, is concerned whit how
language is used (perIormance), as opposed to being concerned with a
determination oI the underlying structure oI language (competence).
Language processing involves competition
among various cues, each oI which contributes to a diIIerent resolution in this
In an unusual sentence, such as ' the grass eats the cow, there is a breakdown
in our normal use oI cues and as a result, there is competition. DiIIerent
languages resolve the conIlict in diIIerent ways.
In SLA learners have to resolve conIlicts between native language and target
language cues and cue strengths. Learners Iirst resort to their NL interpretation
strategies and, upon recognition oI the incongruity between TL and NL
systems, recourse to a universal selection oI meaning-based cues as opposed to
syntax-based cues beIore gradually adopting the appropriate TL. What then is
involved in SLA processing is a readjustment oI which cues will be relevant to
interpretation and a determination oI the relative strengths oI those cues.
The monitor model
Iirst described by Krashen in the 1970's.
There are 5 basic hypotheses in this model: the acquisition learning hypothesis; the
natural order hypothesis; the monitor hypothesis; the input hypothesis; the aIIective
Iilter hypothesis.
! The acquisition-learning hypothesis
second language learners have two independent means oI developing
knowledge oI a second language; one way is through acquisition and the other
trough learning.
Language acquisition is a subconscious process, we are generally not
consciously aware oI the rules oI the language we have acquired. Instead, we
have a Ieel Ior correctness. Learning, on the other hand, reIer to conscious
knowledge oI a second language.

The acquired system is used to produce language. The learned system serves as
an inspector oI the acquired system.
! The natural order hypothesis
states that language rules are acquired in a predictable order. The natural order
is a result oI the acquired system, without interIerence Irom the learned system.
! The monitor hypothesis
the learned system has a special Iunction, to serve as a monitor altering the
output oI the acquired system. The conditions Ior monitor use are time
(learners need time to consciously think about and use the rules available to
them in their learned system), Iocus on Iorm and know the rule.

! The input hypothesis
SL are acquired by understanding messages, or by receiving comprehensible
! The aIIective Iilter hypothesis
includes Iactors such as motivation, selI-conIidence, and anxiety.
The aIIective Iilter is responsible Ior individual variation in SL acquisition and
diIIerentiates child language acquisition Irom SLA because is not something
children have.
Alternatives to Krashen's representation of knowledge
Assumption that SLA is like other types oI cognitive learning. The emphasis is on
describing in terms oI general cognition how linguistic knowledge is acquired and
organized in the brain.
Learning is seen as simple instance learning, which proceeds based on input alone;
the resultant knowledge is seen as a network oI interconnected exemplars and
patterns, rather than abstract rules.

The interactionist learning theory is based on the joint contribution oI the linguistic
environment (input) and the learner's internal mechanism in language development.
The theory has in common with the UG the aim to understand how SLs are
Iormulated considering the Iact that the evidence (positive evidence vs negative
evidence) learners have on the SL is limited.
Input is the language to which the learner is exposed. It can be spoken or written. It
constitutes the data the learner must use to determine the rules oI the target language.
Not all available input is processed by the learner, some oI it may indeed not be
Corder make a distinction between input and intake, where the latter is the part oI
input which is processed or let in.
Ferguson (1971) tanks to a study, notes that in language directed toward linguistically
deIicient individuals (young children, NNSs oI a language), NSs make adjustments to
their speech in the areas oI pronunciation, grammar, and lexicon. Ferguson calls
speech directed to young children babytalk (now known as motherese, caretaker
speech, or child-directed speech), and speech directed to linguistically deIicient
NNSs Ioreigner talk.
He Iinds that Ioreigner talk and babytalk shares Ieatures in common.
Chomsky states that imitation oI adults is impossible in children's environment since
input is degenerate - Motherese is well-Iormed and simpler than adult' s speech.
In the syntactic domain:
! utterance length is shorter
! there are Iewer verbs, coordinate and subordinate clauses and also Iewer
adjectives, adverbs and pronouns
! there is a greater number oI content words (vocabulary) to Iunctors
(grammatical words, like articles, propositions and aux. Verbs)
In the area oI phonology:
! accent is stronger
! intonation is exaggerated
! there are pauses between utterances, which are pronounced slowly
In the semantic domain:
! vocabulary is more restricted
! talk is semantically contingent
At the discourse level:
! There is use oI recasts. They occur when the action expressed by the child is
reIormulated by the adult in a correct grammatical Iorm. Recasting is a method
also used in Ioreign language teaching (known as Iocus on Iorm).
Function oI motherese:
! communication (the most important)
! language teaching
! socialization
EIIects oI motherese:
it inIluence rate, non route oI acquisition.
! Conversational lessons recasts
! Mapping lessons to link object to a linguistic utterance
! Segmental lessons phonological level
In the same year oI motherese study Krashen introduces the concept oI
'Input Hypothesis , based on the assumption that SL is acquired by understanding
messages or by receiving comprehensible input.
Comprehensible input i l
I our current knowledge
1 the level immediately higher than i
Krashen proposes two stages in turning input into intake:
1. understanding an L2 i1 Iorm (that is, linking it to a meaning)
2. the reappearance oI the i1 Iorm with minimal Irequency
Comprehensible input is both necessary and suIIicient Ior SLA to take place.
Foreigner talk
occurs when NS realizes that NNS has a lower level oI linguistic competence and so
makes readjustments.
It shares Ieatures in common with caretaker speech: slow speech rate, loud speech,
long pauses, simple vocabulary.
The main aim is communication.
It has 2 Ieatures:
1. Input Ieatures reIer to the adjustments that involve the grammatical rule
structure oI the language
2. Interactional Ieatures consist oI the speciIic discourse Iunctions perIormed by
Lack oI comprehension is a Ieature oI many conversations involving NNSs.
Interpreting NNS utterances, grammar is less important than pronunciation and
In conversation, indications oI understanding are given by the NNS in many ways.
Most common are the backchannel cues (verbal messages such as uh or yeah).
Similar to what happens with child speech, where young children oIten are only
understood by their caretakers, general experience in conversations with NNSs also
Iacilitates comprehension.
Negotiation oI meaning
occur when participants oI a conversation need to interrupt the Ilow oI the
conversation in order to understand what the conversation is about. In conversation
involving NNSs, negotiations are Irequent.
Long (1980) is the Iirst to realize that conversations between NSs show Iorms that
are not present in NS NNS situations.
Long`s Interaction Hypothesis` :
According to Long, to approach the issue systematically is necessary to
! show that (a) linguistic/conversational adjustments promote (b) comprehension
oI input
! show that (b) comprehensible input promotes (c) acquisition
# deduce that (a) linguistic/conversational adjustments promote (c) acquisition
A mechanism central in Interaction Hypothesis is selective attention negotiation
requires attentiveness and involvement, both necessary Ior successIul
~~ necessity to clariIy in a better way the supposed link between interaction and
In the 1990's Long reconsiders the interaction hypothesis:
Negative Ieedback (inIormation that a particular utterance is deviant respect to the
TL) obtained during negotiation oI meaning may Iacilitate SL development, enabling
learners to search Ior additional conIirmatory or nonconIirmatory evidence.
Swain (1985) introduces the concept oI comprehensible output, the language
produced by the learner aIter he is invited to make himselI understood.
Using (as opposed to simply comprehending) the language may Iorce the learner to
move Irom semantic processing to syntactic processing.
Output has a crucial role in the development oI a SL (necessity to use language
productively, non only Ior comprehension).
It is a way oI testing a hypothesis about the SL.
Limitations of interactionist researches
! cultural biases
! research oI the broad brush kind
! very little idea oI the diIIerential eIIectiveness oI negotiation

JeIIrey Elman - cognitivist scientist
1.What do results Irom research in evolutionary biology and, more recently,
molecular genetics suggest about language?
There are enormous similarities among human genies and those oI other species. In
particular, there is just a 2 diIIerence between our genies and bonobo's ones.
All species have Iorms oI communication, but the human being is the only one
endowed with language. Bonobo are able to communicate trough gesture and
understand human language thanks to the process oI enculturation ( everyday
interaction Irom early age), but their linguistic knowledge is similar to that oI a two
years child.
Is there a gene Ior language? Finding oI a gene producer oI a protein called Foxp2,
present also in many animals. The gene creates a structure called the basal ganglia,
located in the middle oI the brain. The basal ganglia control complex motion activity,
not only real motion (like playing piano), but also planning (e.g. I have to go there
and then there). Nevertheless, there isn't a single gene Ior language.
2.What is the problem that any inIant Iaces as Iar as words in a language are
The Iirst thing a child has to do in acquiring a language is to learn words. The greater
diIIiculty in this task is to identiIy the boundaries oI words (which are not identiIiable
trough silence). So the problem is not only to understand the meaning oI words, but
also tu understand where they are located. (LAD)
3.How are words stored by human beings?
Trough organization. We organize words in conceptual groups (ex. Food, animals);
the capacity to have concepts and categories is only human.
4.As Iar as syntax is concerned, what kind oI complexity can be handled only by
humans, and why?
Primates have the ability to Iorm simple sentences but syntax, that is the capacity to
combine sentences, is a only human capacity:
! We know which is a sentence and which is not
! We can Iormulate sentences which express possibility (e.g. iI I were rich, I
would buy a Ierrari)
! We can say something meaning another thing (e.g. you are a donkey)
6.How can Broca`s results be reinterpreted in the light oI recent research on the
human brain?
Pamela Moses (1999) studies a 3 years child with a halI-damaged leIt hemisphere
and nevertheless, able to Iormulate a close to normal language -
There have to be other areas involved.
Children's brain is plastic; iI a region is damaged, other regions can take over (with
some exceptions).
7.What does the chess` example show?
Nichelli (1994) Iind the presence oI brain's regions that are active in expert chess
player during the end game oI chess. So there are regions oI the brain which are very
useIul in playing chess, and iI you are an expert player you know how to use them.
8.What did Nina Dronkers Iind out by scanning the brain oI Leborgne?
She Iinds that the damaged area is not the Broca's one, but the superior longitudinal
9.What do talking and piano playing have in common?
10.What is the picture emerging Irom the research reported in the lecture?
There is not a single language gene or a single language area and we can't say where
the language come Irom; we know only that there are many source.
is the learning that takes place in the classroom.
In language classroom:
! there is limited input
! a large part oI the input comes Irom classmates whose knowledge oI the
Ioreign language is restricted
! interactional opportunities are also severely restricted
! the language adressed to learners may be somewhat modiIied
! there could be a linguistic richness not present in an inIormal enviroment
There are 3 sources oI input:
! teacher
! materials
! other learners learner talk to other learners is also limited and oIten Iilled
with errors, but this kind oI error is not oIten incorporated into a learner's
grammar. Classroom conversation can be a tool Ior learning (exchanges that
include hypothesis generation, hypothesis testing, and the extension oI
knowledge to new contexts). However, learners Iorms are not always a good
input Ior other learners and teacher intervention is oIten essential.
Input processing
Input processing refers to the presentation and timing of input in a pedagogical
framework. In particular, it deals with the conversion of input to intake and
specificallv focuses on form-meaning relationships. (Van Patten, 1995)
Van Patten presents a model Ior instructional intervention that relies heavily on the
notion oI attention to Iorm. He compares two instructional models, one in which
input is practiced as a Iorm oI output-manipulation (traditional grammar instruction
in which inIormation is presented to learners Ior practice) and the other in which an
attempt is made to change the way input is perceived and processed (processing
The result suggests a positive eIIect Ior processing instruction. Learners in the
processing instruction group are better able to understand and produce the target
structure than learners in the traditional instruction group.
Tomasello and Herron (1988) conduct a study that consider the role oI input
processing in a slightly diIIerent manner: 'The garden path.
The results oI the study show that the corrective Ieedback is more useIul aIter
learners have been induced to produce an error as opposed to preventing it
Semantic comprehension is necessary Ior syntactic comprehension but doesn't
guarantee it. So comprehension is not very useIul in helping learners understand the
syntax oI the language, which is an ultimate goal oI language learning.
Traditional studies on acquisition order claimed that pedagogical intervention
couldn't change the natural order oI acquisition. This idea is exceeded with the
discovery that the natural order sequence could be sped up trough instruction.
Focus on form
The concept oI attention is linked to the concept oI Iocus on Iorm.
Long (1991) distinguishes between
! Iocus on Iorm a need Ior meaning-Iocused activity into which is incorporated
an attention to Iorm
! Iocus on IormS earlier teaching methodologies in which the main organizing
principle Ior language classroom was the accumulation oI individual language
items (e.g. plural endings, passives)
Learner-generated attention to Iorm may not always come naturally and clearly may
require some pedagogical training.
ex. Interaction logs are language diaries in which students write what Iluent
speakers say, and how NSs react when a learner says something. The advantage is
that learners can record their own speech and save it until a time when they can
appropriately analyze it.
Not all Iorms are teachable (e.g. English article system) and diIIerent kinds oI input
might be necessary. Doughty and Williams (1998) identiIies 4 areas to consider in the
study oI Iocus on Iorms, 2 oI which are relevant to the discussion oI instructed
! timing one needs to learn what needs to be learned beIore being able to sort
out the speciIic Iacts oI what is to be learned
! Iorms to Iocus on Williams and Evans investigate the eIIect oI Iocus on Iorm
on 2 complex structures: participial adjectives oI emotive verbs (I am boring vs
I am bored), and passives. The results oI this study suggest that learner's
readiness contributes to their ability to Iocus on and take in new inIormation.
A second Iinding is that not all structures are created equal to input type. For
the participial adjectives, explicit instructions are more beneIicial than input

The significance of the lexicon
In SLA research very little attention was paid to the lexicon. However, lexicon may
be the most important language components Ior learners:
! Lexical errors are the most common among SL learners and are considered the
most serious, both Irom NSs and NNSs.
! Grammatical errors generally result in structures that are understood, whereas
lexical errors may interIere with communication.
Lexicon is the driving Iorce in
! language production (sentence production or encoding or sentence generation)
is a Iormulation process in which lexicon is the mediator between
conceptualization and grammatical and phonological encoding (lexical
! language comprehension oral (isolate words Irom speech stream) written
(segment text into words)
Lexical knowledge
Nation (1990) lists the word knowledge types necessary to have complete knowledge
oI a word:
! Spoken Iorm
! Written Iorm
! Grammatical behaviour
! Collocational behaviour
! Frequency
! Stylistic register contstraints
! Conceptual meaning
! Word associations
A Iirst distinction to be made about the lexicon is one between potential and real
Potential vocabulary consists oI words learner will recognize even thought
they have not yet seen them in the SL
! Real vocabulary consists oI words the learner is Iamiliar with aIter exposure
Another distinction is between
active vocabulary that which can be produced at will
! passive vocabulary that which can be recognized
However, lexical knowledge can best be represented as a continuum with the initial
stage being recognition and the Iinal being production.
LauIer and Paribakht (1998) identiIy three types oI vocabulary knowledge:
! Passive involves understanding the most Irequent meaning oI a word
! Controlled-active involves cued recall
! Free active involves spontaneous use oI the word
They Iind that these three knowledge types develop at diIIerent rates. Passive is the
Iastest, whereas active is the slowest. Furthermore, passive vocabulary is always
larger than active vocabulary. The gap between knowledge types is smaller in the
Ioreign language setting.
Bialystok and Sharwood Smith make a diIIerent distinction between
! knowledge deIined as the way in which the language system is represented in
the mind oI the learner
! control deIined as the processing system Ior controlling that system during
actual perIormance
They make an analogy to a library, but books in a library, unlike lexical knowledge,
are static and unchanging.
The representation oI a word cannot contain all the various and subtle interpretations
that the word could have in diIIerent real-world contexts. Learners have to know
more than just the representation to be able to use a word and understand it.
Lexical information
Word Associations
Adjemian (1983) Iinds that NSs primarily give paradigmatic or syntagmatic
associations, based on semantic Iactors , whereas NNSs give responses based on
phonological similarity.
Incidental Vocabulary Learning
Wesche and Paribakht (1999) deIine incidental learning as what takes place when
learners are Iocused on comprehending meaning rather than on the explicit goal oI
learning new words. In other words, learning is a by-product oI something else (e.g.
reading a passage).
Rott examines exposure through reading and its eIIect on acquisition and retention oI
vocabulary. The results show that only two exposures are suIIicient to aIIect
vocabulary growth and that whit six exposure there is a greatest amount oI
knowledge growth.
Strategies in learning a new word inIerencing through morphological and grammar
inIormation (the most common), guessing Irom context, relying on word Iormation,
dictionary use is not predominant.
Facilitating Iactors when learners have the opportunity to use new lexical items in a
communicative context (including negotiation), those words are retained to a greater
extent than when they are only exposed to input. Other Iactors are task type, cognate
languages, signiIicant exposure, knowledge oI related L2 words.
Incremental Vocabulary Learning
Learning words is a recursive process and does not occur instantaneously. In Iact,
Paribakht and Welsche develop a Vocabulary Knowledge Scale with Iive stages: a)
the word is unIamiliar b)the word is Iamiliar but the meaning is not known c) a
translation into the NL can be given d) the word can be used appropriately in a
sentence e) the word is used accurately both semantically and grammaticaly.
Memory Metaphors
Bartlett, more than a halI century ago criticizes the metaphor oI the storehouse ; in his
perspective the schemata (the bases oI memory) are constantly developing.
The alternative he proposes is memory as a constructive process. One does not
simply reproduce knowledge, one constructs it. Thus, knowledge requires an active
approach, not a passive one.
Lexical skills
Production processes and strategies may have a strong eIIect on what learners
In SLA early stage lexical inIormation plays little role.
There are 5 stages in the process oI conversion Irom input to output:
1. Apperceived input
2. Comprehended input
3. Intake
4. Integration
5. Output
Apperceived input
is the Iirst stage oI input utilization.
Apperception is the process in which past experiences are related to new observed
materials. Is an internal cognitive act, relating a linguistic Iorm to prior knowledge,
that is, it is a priming device that prepares the input Ior Iurther analysis.
Input Iilters (interdependent Iactors by which some aspects oI language are noticed
by the learner whereas other not) : a- Irequency b- aIIect(social distance, status,
motivation, and attitude) c- prior knowledge d- attention (allows a learner to notice
mismatch between what he knows about the SL and what is produced by speakers oI
the SL, and so to make a readjustment).
There are also Iactors speciIic to conversational interaction that are relevant to how
the input can be shaped so that it can be comprehended: negotiation and modiIication
involve production and Ieedback.
Comprehended input
DiIIerence between comprehended input and comprehensible input:
comprehensible input is controlled by the person providing input, generally a native
speaker oI the SL
comprehended input is learner-controlled. It's potentially multistaged, representing
a continuum oI possibilities Irom semantics to detailed structural analyses,
Separation between comprehended input and intake:
is important because not all input that is comprehended becomes intake - There is a
diIIerentiation between intake as communication (purpose oI immediate meaning)
and intake as learning.
Factors that determines whether a particular instance oI comprehended input will
result in intake: level oI analysis oI the input (Ior ex., an analysis at the level oI
meaning is not as useIul Ior intake as an analysis made at the level oI syntax; time;
prior linguistic knowledge (native, universal, metalinguistic, other languages).
is the process oI assimilating linguistic material. It reIers to the mental activity that
mediates between input and grammars.
In intake components: psycholinguistic processes takes place, generalizations and
overgeneralizations occur, memory traces are Iormed, Iossilization stems.
Major processes are Iormation, testing, rejection, modiIication, conIirmation oI an
AIter there is language intake, there are two possible Iorm oI integration:
a. the development oI one's SL grammar
b. storage
There are Iour possibility Ior dealing with input:
1. Hypotheses conIirmation/rejection (intake) results in integration
2. Apparent nonuse occurs when the inIormation contained in the input is already
incorporated into a learner's grammar. The additional input might be used Ior
rule strengthening or hypothesis reconIirmation
3. Storage
4. Nonuse
Integrated knowledge: developmental changes (in output) or reanalysis or
restructuring (no surIace maniIestation).
Learner's output and learner's grammar are not identical Ior the presence oI Iactors
such as personality, context and task.
The output component represents more than the product oI language knowledge, it is
an active part oI the entire learning process.
SLA is a dynamic and interactive process.
Factors that are under the learner's control, such as personality and aIIect, have the
greatest eIIect only at peripheries; that is, at the levels oI initial apperceived input and
output. Psycholinguistic processing and linguistic phenomena in the middle are more
inIluenced by mental constraints -
$ Apperceived input has a major role, determined to a large extent by selective
attention. Without selective attention, grammar development does not take place.
Variation in learners languages:
a. diachronic variation represents a change in a learner's knowledge over time
b. synchronic variation dependent on demands oI task type,situation, and language.
There is a long distance between input learner receives and what learner produces:
a. extract inIormation Irom input
b. utilize it in Iorming a grammar
c. produce target language Iorms