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THEORIES OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION (BOTH L1 AND L2)

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THEORIES BASED ON "NURTURE" (Empiricism) Some of the Resulting THEORIES BASED ON “NATURE” Some of the Resulting
(environmental factors are believed to be more dominant in Foreign/Second (Nativism) (Innate factors Foreign/Second
language acquisition) Language Teaching are believed to be more dominant in Language Teaching
Methods language acquisition) Methods

- Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development Community Language - A Neurofunctional Theory of Language


Behavirorism (1957) (L1) Learning Acquisition

- Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (1957) (1962,) Trial-and-error - The Universal Grammar Theory (1959) Winitz’s
(L1) (Thorndike and (L1) Comprehension
Guthrie) Approach (?)

- Bloomfiield (1940’s) & Lado (1964) (L1 & L2) Audiolingual Method - Critical Period Hypothesis (Lenneberg,
Structuralis

1967,)
- Lateralization (L1
m

& L2)

- Contrastive analysis hypothesis (Lado, 1957), Error analysis - Monitor Model (Krashen, 1977, 1981, The Natural Approach
(Lightbown and Spada,1993) (L1 & L2) 1985, 1992, 1993, 1997) (L1 &
L2)

- Piaget’s View of Language Acquisition (1969’s)


(L1)
Cognitivism

- Cognitive Theory : Language Acquisition View


(Brown, 1987) (L1, & L2)

- Burner’s constructivist theory (1966, 1974, Instructions


1986, 1990) (L1) Curriculum

- The Interaction Hypothesis ( Long , 1985, 1996 Interaction


constructivism
Social

& Pica,1994) (L2) Teacher’s talk


Caregiver’s talk

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- Discourse Theory ( Communicative


(L1 & L2) Language teaching
S
Table 1. Classification of Language Acquisition Theories Around “Nurture and Nature Distinction”
Sourced by: http://maxpages.com/thena/ladiscussion Revised by Chun, Sooin,
May,2005,

1. Zone of Proximal Development:


- Vygotsky (1978) maintained the child follows the adult's example and gradually develops the ability to do certain tasks without help or assistance.
He called the difference between what a child can do with help and what he or she can do without guidance the "zone of proximal development"
(ZPD).
- Proximal Zone (Distal zone) -> Learning (social interaction) -> Present knowledge : Cognitive development

( http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~rallrich/learn/zone.html )

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2 Skinner’s verbal Behavior
- Knowledge is the product of interaction with the environment through stimulus-response conditioning.
- Unconditioned stimulus (UST) -> Unconditioned response (URE) -> Positive reinforcement (PRE) -> Conditioned stimulus (CST) -> conditioned
response (CRE)

3. Lado’s Audiolingual Method


- Language learning is considered as habits and focusing on spoken language.
- Teaching the spoken language is through dialogues and drills.
- Language is a set of habits, just like driving a car. Language is doing things, not kowning things. -> “Habit formation” by practice

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( Cook, 2003)

4. Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (CHP)


- The differences between languages can be used to reveal and predict all errors and the data obtained can be used F/SL teaching.
- Positive vs. Negative transfer of habits
- Main source of errors in L2 due to transfer of L1 habits
- Errors can be predicted by a contrastive analysis of the L1 and L2
- The greater the difference between L1 and L2, the more errors that will occur

5. Piaget’s view of Language acquisition


- language acquisition as a case of general human learning however, that the development is not innate, but only that there is no specific language
module. Piaget’s view was then that the development (i.e., language acquisition) results mainly from external factors or social interactions.
- Discovery learning and supporting the developing interests of the child
- Stages of cognitive development (Developmental stages)
- Adapting the world through Assimilation and Accommodation (http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/assimacc.htm ,
http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/piaget.html )
- Equilibrium (an ideal state at a balance between the structure of the mind and the environment between assimilation and accommodation.

6. Cognitive Theory: Language Acquisition View

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- Language is a meaningful process of “relating new events or items to already existing cognitive concepts”
- It is based on the language system and involves procedures for selecting appropriate vocabulary, grammatical rules, and pragmatic conventions
governing language use.

7. Burner’s Constructivist theory


- Learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and
transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. Cognitive structure (i.e., schema,
mental models) provides meaning and organization to experiences and allows the individual to "go beyond the information given"
- Instructional

8. Discourse Theory

- Leaner discover the meaning capacity of language by taking part in communication.

- Communicative competence includes knowledge of the grammar and vocabulary, knowledge of rules of speaking, knowledge of how to use and
respond to different types of speech acts and social conventions, and knowledge of how to use language appropriately.
- Language acquisition will successfully take place when language learners “know” how and when to use the language in various settings and when
they have successfully “ cognized” various forms of competence such as grammatical competence (lexis, morphology, syntax and phonology) and
pragmatic competence (speech acts).
- Learner needs to “know” conversational strategies to acquire the language.
- Failed to notice universal principles in language acquisition.

9. The Speech Act Theory

- When we speak, our words do not have meaning in and of themselves. They are very much affected by the situation, the speaker and the listener.
Thus words alone do not have a simple fixed meaning.

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Locutionary act: saying something with a certain meaning in traditional sense.

Illocutionary act: have a certain ‘force’, e.g. informing, ordering, warning, undertaking.

Perlocutionary acts: bring about or achieve something, e.g. convincing, persuading, deterring

- http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/speect_act.htm

10. Socio-Educational Model

(Cook, 2003)

11. Accommodation Theory


- When we talk with other people, we will tend to subconsciously change our style of speech (accent, rate, types of words, etc.) towards the style
used by the listener. We also tend to match non-verbal behaviors. This signals agreement and liking. It should create greater rapport and them such
that they approve of us more. This can be unwelcome, especially if it is perceived as aping or being overly familiar.
- The reverse also happens: people deliberately assert their identity by speaking and acting differently from the other person.
- http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/communication_accomodation.htm

12. Interactionist view of Language Acquisition


- Comprehensible input is taking important role in language acquisition but it is most effective when it si modified through the negotiation of meaning.

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- Comprehensible input is the result of modified interaction.
- For example: parents modify their speech to children, Native speakers often slow down speech to second language learners,

13. The Competition Model


- Four aspects language for communication : Word order, Vocabualry, Word forms (morphology), and Intonation.
- As the speaker can only cope with a limited number of things at the same time, a language has to strike a balance between these four. For
instance, the more a language intonation, the less it can rely on word order; the more emphasis on word forms, the less on word order, …,
- The different aspects of language “compete” with each other for the same space in the mind.

14. Information-processing Model


- Learning starts from controlled processes, which gradually become automatic. For example, learning driving skill,
- Controlled processing can be said to lay down the “stepping stones” for automatic processing as the learner moves t more and more difficult levels.
15. Cognitive Behavioral Model (Anderson, 1993)

16. The Acculturation Theory (Berry 1998)

(Cook, 2003)

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Literature review: EFL syllabus design (Continued).

Previous Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

3.4.4.2.2. The procedural syllabus.

The Procedural syllabus is associated with Prabhu, Ramani and others (then) at the Regional Institute of English in

Bangalore, India. Prabhu was dissatisfied with the Structural-Oral-Situational method which had been developed and

was generally in use in the 1960s, so he evolved an approach based on the principle that the learning of form is best

carried out when attention is given to meaning (cf. Palmer, 1917/1968). The Bangalore Madras Communicational

Teaching Project (CTP) (Prabhu 1980; 1984; 1987) was implemented in eight classrooms with 18 teachers and 390

children aged 8 to 15, for periods of one to three years, from 1979 to 1984. Early influences were similar to those of

the Malaysian communicative syllabi (Rodgers 1979; 1984), but were quickly abandoned. The Project was not set up

as an experiment, so evaluation was not part of the original plan, and Beretta and Davies, when carrying out an

evaluation in 1984 (Beretta & Davies 1985), had to use intact classes, rather than operate in a "stripped down

environment" (Beretta 1986a) with limitations on the validity of their findings. They saw the results of the evaluation

as on the whole positive, though pointing out the difficulty of designing satisfactory Which? type comparative

research procedures to evaluate methodologies (cf. Cronbach 1963). However, Greenwood (1985) suggests that

none of the accounts of the project offered sufficient evidence to evaluate the claims made for the procedural

syllabus and its associated methodology (White 1988:108).

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At the basis of the CTP are tasks which engage the learner in thinking processes, the focus of which is completion of

the task rather than learning the language, agreeing with Krashen (1982) that language form is acquired

subconsciously when the learner's attention is focused on meaning (cf. table 30, below):

TABLE 30: THE CTP MODEL (ADAPTED FROM WHITE 1988:103).

Task Learners' CognitiveTask completion


Processes

Conscious Meaning-building Meanings understood or


conveyed
Unconscio System-building Grammatical system
us developed

Task-based teaching operates with the concept that, while the conscious mind is working out some of the meaning-

content, some subconscious part of the mind perceives, abstracts or acquires (or recreates, as a cognitive

structure) some of the linguistic structuring embodied in those entities, as a step in the development of an internal

system of rules. The intensive exposure caused by an effort to work out meaning-content is thus a condition which is

favourable to the subconscious abstraction - or cognitive formation - of language structure. (Prabhu 1987:69-70).

Teaching through communication, rather than for communication (Prabhu 1980:164) was an important aspect of this programme,

though it is interesting to note that the core goal was grammatical, rather than communicative competence,

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interaction in the target language, or activation and development of learning skills:

The radical departure from CLT in the Bangalore Project lay not in the tasks themselves, but in the accompanying pedagogic focus on
task completion instead of the language used in the process. (Greenwood 1985)

Teacher speech was not pre-selected or structurally graded, but "roughly tuned", and errors ("ungrammatical learner

utterances") were accepted for their content, although subject to "'incidental' as opposed to 'systematic' correction"

(Prabhu 1987:57-9). The tasks focused upon the learners' use and development of their own cognitive abilities

through the solution of logical, mathematical and scientific problems, and the procedural syllabus focused upon

what was to be done in the classroom and not upon selected language input for learning. Finally, the syllabus of

tasks was not pre-planned but:

... was evolved during the teaching and learning by a process of trial and error whereby new tasks could become more sensitive to the
achievements and needs of the particular learners in the particular teaching situation. (Breen, 1987b:165)

3.4.4.2.2.1. The procedural syllabus - problems.

The Bangalore Project has received attention from EFL researchers and theorists, due to its being the first example

of the TBS in practice, though containing a number of formal and synthetic Type A elements (e.g. the focus on a

required outcome, and the role of teachers as controllers and regulators):

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An activity which required learners to arrive at an outcome, from given information through some process of thought, and which
allowed teachers to control and regulate the process, was regarded as a 'task'. (Prabhu, 1987:24)

Long and Crookes (1993:31) suggest that local cultural and educational norms could have been responsible for

various formal aspects of the Bangalore Project such as an emphasis on receptive language, teacher-centred

classes, a lack of student-student communication ("because of the fear that learner-learner interaction will promote

fossilisation" - Prabhu 1987:82) and the discouragement of group work (cf. Long & Porter [1985] and Pica [1987b] for

discussion of the benefits of group work and the opportunities for negotiation provided by appropriate task

selection).

Prabhu's recommended lesson structure falls into three sections: i) presentation and demonstration of "pre-tasks" by

the teacher in a whole-class format; ii) the task proper, worked on usually individually; iii) feedback from the teacher

- regulated and "presented" by the teacher; and is reminiscent of the "three Ps" approach typical of synthetic syllabi.

Though largely discredited by SLA theory (White 1988; Skehan 1996a). this three-tiered structure appears ten years

later in Willis (1996), who proposes a three-tiered framework for task-based learning in which the teacher still has

the overall control (Willis 1996:41). Thus negotiation of syllabus-content, self-direction, and learner-centredness,

factors so important in other examples of the process paradigm, are absent from this type of TBS, in which "the

teaching techniques required ... are not very different from those of ordinary mainstream language teaching." (Willis

1996:40).

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Amongst other criticisms of the Bangalore Project (Brumfit 1984b), the main one has been its failure to build an

evaluation component into the design (a criticism rarely made of programmes using synthetic syllabi). Long and

Crookes identify other difficulties:

1. the absence of task-based (or any) needs identification leaves no rationale for the content of the syllabus (Long & Crookes
1993:32);
2. grading of task difficulty and sequencing of tasks appear to be arbitrary and left to the teacher. The "half the class doing half the
task” criterion (Prabhu 1984:277) is not a satisfactory solution, since it is norm-referenced, and gives no indication of why any one
task is "easier" than another (Long & Crookes 1993:32);
3. there is need for incomprehensible input and communication breakdowns if learners are to perceive negative evidence as such in
SLA (Bley-Vroman 1986; White 1987);
4. it is important to notice input-output mismatches so that learning can occur (Schmidt 1990a; 1993).

White (1988) also observes that in terms of "empirical demonstration of the effect of organisation and procedures on

learning outcomes", there has been no "really concerted effort to evaluate any approach in actual operation"

(1988:110), despite the growing body of research into the effects of procedure on language learning in tutored

settings (cf. Long 1980; Long & Porter 1985; Aston 1986; Doughty & Pica 1986).

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