Useful supplementary materials for the 5th edition of the book Second Language Learning and Language Teaching by Vivian Cook. the present paper reviews the role that second language acquisition research The relationship between SLA and language teaching is not by any means a. Second-Language Learning and Teaching. D.A. Wilkins. London: Edward. Arnold, Get That Job! A Job-Hunter's Guide. Mary Tay Wan Joo and Tan Kim.
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Second Language Learning and Language Teaching This page intentionally left blank of language teaching 2 What is second language acquisition research? in the British Isles (scretch.info pdf). Second Language Learning and Language Teaching - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online. PDF | After discussing the ties between language teaching and second language acquisition research, the present paper reviews the role that second language.
These signs and symbols are used to encode and decode the information. There are many languages spoken in the world. The first language learned by a baby is his or her mother tongue. It is the language, which he or she listens to from his or her birth. Any other language learned or acquired is known as the second language.
The reasons why a teaching technique works or does not work depend on many factors.
A teacher who wants to use a particular technique will benefit by knowing what it implies in terms of language learning and language processing, the type of student for whom it is most appropriate, and the ways in which it fits into the classroom situation. Suppose the teacher wants to use a task in which the students spontaneously exchange information.
This implies that students are learning by communicating, that they are prepared to speak out in the classroom and that the educational context allows for learning from fellow students rather than from the teacher alone. SLA research has something to say about all of these, as we shall see. Understanding the goals of language teaching The reasons why the second language is being taught depend on overall educa- tional goals, which vary from one country to another and from one period to another.
One avowed goal of language teaching is to help people to think better — brain training and logical thinking. Many of these have been explored in particular SLA research. For example, the goal of brain training is supported by evidence that people who know two languages think more flexibly than monolinguals Landry, This information is vital when considering the viability and implementation of communicative goals for a particular group of students.
SLA research can help define the goals of language teaching, assess how achievable they may be, and contribute to their achieve- ment. These issues are debated in Chapter SLA research is a scientific discipline that tries to describe how people learn and use another language.
It cannot decide issues that are outside its domain. While it may contribute to the understanding of teaching goals, it is itself neutral between them.
It is not for the teacher, the methodologist or any other outsider to dictate whether a language should be taught for communication, for brain training, or whatever purpose, but for the society or the individual student to decide. Another bans any reference to English-speaking culture in textbooks because English is for international communication, not for developing relationships with England or the USA.
A third sees language teaching as a way of developing honesty and the values of good citizenship; a speaker at a TESOL con- ference in New York proclaimed that the purpose of TESOL was to create good American citizens to the consternation of the British and Canadians present in the audience.
SLA research as a discipline neither commends nor denies the value of these goals, since they depend on moral or political values rather than science. But it can offer advice on how these goals may best be achieved and what their costs may be, particularly in balancing the needs of society and of the individual.
Teachers need to see the classroom from many angles, not just from that of SLA research. SLA research reveals some of the strengths and weaknesses of a particular teaching method or technique and it provides information that can influence and guide teaching. It does not provide a magic solution to teaching problems in the form of a patented method with an attractive new brand name.
Insights from SLA research can help teachers, whatever their methodological slant. Partly it is at the more specific level of the choice of teaching methods, the construction of teach- ing materials, or the design and execution of teaching techniques.
The links between SLA research and language teaching made here are suggestions of what can be done rather than accounts of what has been done or orders about what should be done. Since SLA research is still in its early days, some of the ideas presented here are based on a solid agreed foundation; others are more controversial or speculative.
While this book has been written for language teachers, this is not the only way in which SLA research can influence language teaching.
Other routes for the application of SLA research include: We shall meet some attempts at this in var- ious chapters here, but again, SLA research has not usually been the basis for syllabuses.
Some coursebook writers do indeed try to use ideas from SLA research, as we shall see. Often these indirect routes may have a greater influence on teaching than the teacher. Some background ideas of SLA research 11 1. Keywords multi-competence: This section pres- ents some of these core ideas. SLA research is independent of language teaching Earlier approaches to L2 learning often asked the question: Is an oral method better than a translation method? Is a communicative method better than a situational one?
Putting the question in this form accepts the status quo of what already happens in teaching rather than look- ing at underlying principles of learning: Then teaching methods can be evaluated in the light of what has been discovered, and teaching can be based on adequate ideas of learning.
The first step is to study learning itself; the second step is to see how teaching relates to learning, the sequence mostly followed in this book.
The teacher should be told from the start that there is no easy link between SLA research and language teaching methods, despite the claims made in some course- books or by some researchers. The language teaching approaches of the past 50 years, by and large, have originated from teaching methodologists, not from SLA research. The new field did not blindly take over the concepts previously used for talking about L2 learning.
Language teachers, for example, often contrast second language teaching which teaches the language for immediate use within the same country, say, the teaching of French to immigrants in France with foreign language teaching which teaches the language for long-term future uses and may take place any- where, but most often in countries where it is not an everyday medium, say, the teaching of French in England.
While this distinction is often convenient, it can- not be taken for granted that learners in these two situations necessarily learn in two different ways without proper research evidence.
Indeed, later we shall look at many other dimensions to the learning situation see Chapter Krashen, a. A more idiosyncratic use here is the distinction between L2 user and L2 learner. An L2 user is anybody making an actual use of the second language for real-life purposes outside the classroom; an L2 learner is anybody acquiring a second lan- guage.
In some cases a person is both user and learner — when an L2 learner of English in London steps out of the classroom, they immediately become an L2 user of English. The distinction is important for many countries where learners do not become users for many years, if ever. The prime motivation for the term L2 user, however, is the feeling that it is demeaning to call someone who has func- tioned in an L2 environment for years a learner rather than a user, as if their task were never finished.
We would not dream of calling a year-old adult native speaker an L1 learner, so we should not call a person who has been using a second language for 20 years an L2 learner!
The different spheres of SLA research and language teaching mean that the con- cepts of language they use are often different. The danger is when both fields use the same terms with different meanings. The type of grammar used in SLA research has little to do with the tried and true collection of grammatical ideas for teaching that teachers have evolved, as will be illustrated in Chapter 2.
L2 learning is independent of L1 acquisition Teaching methods have often been justified in terms of how children learn their first language, without investigating L2 learning directly. The audio-lingual method of teaching, for instance, was based primarily on particular views of how children learn their first language. Some background ideas of SLA research 13 There is no intrinsic reason, however, why learning a second language should be the same as learning a first.
Language, according to Michael Tomasello , requires the ability to recognize that other people have points of view. People learning a second language already know how to mean and know that other people have minds of their own. L2 learning is inevitably differ- ent in this respect from L1 learning. The similarities between learning the first and second languages have to be established rather than taken for granted.
In some respects, the two forms of learning may well be rather similar, in others quite differ- ent — after all, the outcome is often very different.
Evidence about how the child learns a first language has to be interpreted with caution in L2 learning and seldom in itself provides a basis for language teaching.
L2 learners, in fact, are different from children learning a first language since there is already one language present in their minds. There is no way that the L2 learner can become a monolingual native speaker by definition. However strong the similar- ities may be between L1 acquisition and L2 learning, the presence of the first lan- guage is the inescapable difference in L2 learning.
So our beliefs about how children learn their first language cannot be transferred automatically to a second language; some may work, some may not. The first language helps learners when it has elements in common with the second language and hinders them when they dif- fer. The explanation is that subjects may be omitted in Spanish, but they may not be left out in French.
Nor is it usually difficult to decide from accent alone whether a foreigner speaking English comes from France, Brazil or Japan. But the importance of such transfer has to be looked at with an open mind. Various aspects of L2 learning need to be investigated before it can be decided how and when the first language is involved in the learning of the second.
Though transfer from the first language indeed turns out to be important, often in unexpected ways, its role needs to be established through properly balanced research rather than the first language taking the blame for everything that goes wrong in learning a second.
In other words, this is what the student might say if he or she were a native speaker. But something has gone drastically wrong with the sentence. Perhaps the student has not yet encountered the appropriate forms in English or perhaps he or she is transferring constructions from the first lan- guage. Sometimes this comparison is justified, as native- like speech is often a goal for the student. This is what many students want to be, however, not what they are at the moment.
It is judging the students by what they are not — native speakers. SLA research insists that learners have the right to be judged by the standards appropri- ate for them, not by those used for natives.
At each stage learners have their own language systems. The nature of these learner systems may be very different from that of the target language. Even if they are idiosyncratic and constantly changing, they are nonetheless systematic. This is shown in Figure 1. Their mistakes were minor irritants rather than major haz- ards.
In my own view, not yet shared by the SLA research field as a whole, the inde- pendent grammars assumption does not go far enough. But these languages coexist in the same mind; one person knows both. Hence we need a name to refer to the overall knowledge that com- bines both the first language and the L2 interlanguage, namely multi-competence Cook, — the knowledge of two languages in the same mind shown in Figure 1.
The lack of this concept has meant SLA research has still treated the two languages separately rather than as different facets of the same person, as we see from time to time in the rest of this book. For example, an individual native speaker may know the English language in the psychological sense, but probably knows only a fraction of the words in any dictionary of the English language; students often feel frustrated because they measure their knowledge of a language against the grammar book and the dictionary Lang2 rather than against what an individual speaker knows Lang5.
Box 1. Have you ever checked to see if this is really the case? Do you have a right to impose the goals you choose on them? What evidence do you have for its success? If you were their teacher, how would you correct them? I wold like to give you my best congratulate. Arabic e I please you very much you allow me to stay with you this Christmas. Useful books with similar purposes but covering slightly different approaches to second language acquisition are: More information is available on the website for this book, www.
Glosses on language teaching methods audio-lingual method: Learning and teaching different types of grammar 2 A language has patterns and regularities which are used to convey meaning, some of which make up its grammar. One important aspect of grammar in most languages is the order of words: Another aspect of grammar consists of changes in the forms of words, more important in some languages than others: The glossary on page 44 defines some grammatical terms.
Many linguists consider grammar to be the central part of the language in the Lang5 sense of the knowledge in an individual mind, around which other parts such as pronunciation and vocabulary revolve. However important the other components of language may be in themselves, they are connected to each other through grammar.
Grammar is the most unique aspect of language. It has features that do not occur in other mental processes and that are not apparently found in animal lan- guages. According to linguists though psychologists often disagree , grammar is learnt in different ways from anything else that people learn. This chapter first looks at different types of grammar and then selects some areas of grammatical research into L2 learning to represent the main approaches.
What is grammar? This is called prescriptive grammar because it prescribes what people ought to do. Modern grammarians have mostly avoided prescriptive gram- mar because they see their job as describing what the rules of language are, just as the physicist says what the laws of physics are. The grammarian has no more right to decree how people should speak than the physicist has to decree how electrons should move; their task is to describe what happens.
Prescriptive grammar is all but irrelevant to the language teaching classroom. Since the s people have believed that you should teach the language as it is, not as it ought to be. Students should learn to speak real language that people use, not an artificial form that nobody uses — we all use split infinitives from time to time when the circumstances make it necessary, and it is often awkward to avoid them. If L2 learners need to pander to these shibboleths, a teacher can quickly provide a list of the handful of forms that pedants object to.
A third is journal edi- tors, who have often been nasty about my sentences without verbs — to me a normal variation in prose found on many pages of any novel. Analysing sentences in this approach means labelling the parts with their names and giving rules that explain in words how they may be combined.
This is often called traditional grammar. In essence it goes back to the grammars of Latin, receiving its English form in the grammars of the eighteenth century, many of which in fact set out to be prescriptive. Grammarians today do not reject this type of grammar outright so much as feel that it is unscientific.
After reading the defi- nition of a noun, we still do not know what it is, in the way that we know what a chemical element is: The answer is that we do not know without seeing the word in a sentence, but the context is not men- tioned in the definition. While the parts of speech are indeed relevant to gram- mar, there are many other powerful grammatical concepts that are equally important. A useful modern source is the NASA Manual in the list of links on the website, which provides sensible advice in largely traditional terms, such as: Too many modi- fiers, particularly between the subject and verb, can over-power these elements.
Grammar books for language teaching often present grammar through a series of visual displays and examples. A case in point is the stalwart Basic Grammar in Use Murphy, , 2nd edn.
It explains: But Japanese does not have plural forms for nouns; Japanese students have said to me that they only acquired the concept of singular and plural through learning English.
Languages like Tongan, or indeed Old English, have three forms: Even main coursebooks often rely on the students knowing the terms of tradi- tional grammar. Structural grammar Language teaching has also made use of structural grammar based on the concept of phrase structure, which shows how some words go together in the sentence and some do not. Suppose we group the words that seem to go together: Then these struc- tures can be combined with the remaining words: This phrase structure is usually presented in tree diagrams that show how words build up into phrases and phrases build up into sentences see Figure 2.
The man fed the dog Figure 2. Teachers have been using structural grammar directly in substitution tables since at least the s. A typical example can be seen in the Bulgarian course- book English for the Fifth Class Despotova et al.
They can draw a black dog I white car You red rose Figure 2. They are substituting different words within a constant gram- matical structure. Substitution tables are still common in present-day coursebooks and grammar books, though more today as graphic displays of grammar, as Chapter 13 illustrates. Structure drills and pattern practice draw on similar ideas of structure, as in the following exercise from my own Realistic English Abbs et al.
You can go and see him. Well, if I go. He can come and ask you. Well, if he comes. They can write and tell her. Well, if they write. Chapter 13 provides further discussion of such drills. A more recent definition is as follows: Chomsky, A native speaker knows the sys- tem of the language. Nevertheless, no one could produce a single sentence of English without having English grammar present in their minds.
A parallel can be found in a teaching exercise that baffles students — devising instructions for everyday actions. There is one type of knowledge in our mind which we can talk about consciously, another which is far from conscious. We can all put on our coats or pro- duce an English sentence; few of us can describe how we do it. The rationale for the paraphernalia of grammatical analysis such as sentence trees, structures and rules is ultimately that they describe the com- petence in our minds.
As well as grammatical competence, native speakers also possess knowledge of how language is used. This is often called communicative competence by those who see the public functions of language as crucial Hymes, , rather than the ways we use language inside our minds.
Sheer knowledge of language has little point if speakers cannot use it appropriately for all the activities in which they want to take part — complaining, arguing, persuading, declaring war, writing love letters, downloading season tickets, and so on.
Many linguists see language as having private functions as well as public — language for dreaming or planning a day out. Hence the more general term pragmatic competence reflects all the possible uses of language rather than restricting them to communication Chomsky, In other words, while no one denies that there is far more to language than grammar, many lin- guists see it as the invisible central spine that holds everything else together.
Box 2. This gives some idea of the types of structure that are taught to beginners in most classrooms around the world. The grammar is the typical medley of tradi- tional and structural items. A clear presentation of this can be found in Harmer Many of these items are the basis for language teaching and for SLA research.
She is an old woman. Do you have black or white coffee? You ask a woman in the street the time. She lives in London. Here is a quotation from a Theodore Sturgeon story that combines made-up content words with real structure words: So on Lirht, while the decisions on the fate of the miserable Hvov were being formulated, gwik still fardled, funted and fupped.
Structure words, morphemes and sequences of acquisition 25 The same sentence with made-up structure words might have read: So kel Mars, dom trelk decisions kel trelk fate mert trelk miserable slaves hiv polst formulated, deer still grazed, jumped kosp survived.
Only the first version is comprehensible in some form, even if we have no idea how you fardle and funt. Content words have meanings that can be looked up in a dictionary and they are numbered in many thousands. A computer program for teaching English needs about structure words; the ten most common words in the British National Corpus million sample are all structure words, as we see in Chapter 3.
Structure words are described in grammar books rather than dictionaries. It is virtually impossible to invent a new structure word because it would mean changing the grammatical rules of the language, which are fairly rigid, rather than adding an item to the stock of words of the language, which can easily take a few more. But no writer dares invent new structure words. Table 2. As can be seen, the distinction is quite powerful, affecting everything from the spelling to speech production.
Nevertheless, this simplistic division needs to be made far more complicated to catch the complexities of a language like English, as we shall see. Other words can be split into several morphemes: When the phrase structure of a sentence is shown in tree diagrams, the whole sentence is at the top and the morphemes are at the bottom: The structure and behaviour of morphemes are dealt with in the area of grammar called morphology.
In the s Heidi Dulay and Marina Burt decided to see how these grammatical morphemes were learnt by L2 learners. They made Spanish-speaking children learning English describe pictures and checked how often they supplied eight grammatical mor- phemes in the appropriate places in the sentence.
How do they expand this rudimentary sentence into its full form? The sequence from 1 to 8 mirrors the order of difficulty for the L2 learners Dulay and Burt studied. The interesting discovery was the similarities between the L2 learners. It was not just Spanish-speaking children who have a sequence of difficulty for the eight grammatical morphemes. Similar orders have been found for Japanese children and for Korean adults Makino, ; Lee, , though not for one Japanese child Hakuta, The first language does not seem to make a crucial difference: This was quite surprising in that people had thought that the main problem in acquiring gram- mar was transfer from the first language; now it turned out that learners had the same types of mistake whatever the first language they spoke.
The other surprise was that it did not seem to matter if the learners were children or adults; adults have roughly the same order as children Krashen et al. It does not even make much difference whether or not they are attending a language class Larsen- Freeman, There is a strong similarity between all L2 learners of English, whatever the explanation may be.
This research with grammatical morphemes was the first to demonstrate the common factors of L2 learners so clearly. Yet there are still things to learn from this area. Muhammad Hannan , for instance, used it to find a sequence of acquisition for Bengali-speaking children in East London, as mentioned in Chapter 1. Clearly these children made a consistent pro- gression for grammatical morphemes over time. Learners from many backgrounds seemed to be creating the same kind of grammar for English out of what they heard, and were passing through more or less the same stages of acquisition.
They were reacting in the same way to the shared experience of learning English. While the first language made some difference, its influence was dwarfed by what the learners had in common. While later research has seldom found such a low inci- dence, nevertheless it became clear that much of the learning of a second lan- guage was common to all L2 learners rather than being simply transfer from their first language.
One of the best demonstrations of the independence of interlanguage came from a research programme that investigated the acquisition of five second lan- guages by adult migrant workers in Europe, known as the ESF European Science Foundation project. Researchers found a basic grammar that all L2 learners shared, which had three simple rules; a sentence may consist of: L2 learners not only have an interlanguage grammar, they have the same interlan- guage grammar, regardless of the language they are learning.
In other words, all that teachers can actually expect from learners after a year or so is a sparse gram- mar having these three rules; whatever the teacher may try to do, this may be what the learners achieve. Keywords movement: John will go where? Is John nice? Where is John? Where will John go?
Figure 2. The core idea was that some sentences are formed by moving elements from one position to another. English questions, for example, move the auxiliary or the question word to the beginning of the sentence, a famil- iar idea to language teachers.
The multidimensional model sees movement as the key element in understand- ing the learning sequence. The learner starts with sentences without movement and learns how to move the various parts of the sentence around to get the final form.
The learner ascends the structural tree from bottom to top, first learning to deal with words, next with phrases, then with simple sentences, and finally with subordinate clauses in complex sentences. Stage 2 Next learners acquire the typical word order of the language.
This is the only word order that the learners know; they do not have any alternative word orders based on movement such as questions. In the next stages the learners discover how to move elements about, in partic- ular to the beginnings and ends of the sentence.
Stage 3 Now the learners start to move elements to the beginning of the sentence. At this stage the learners are starting to work within the structure of the sentence, not just using the beginning or the end as locations to move elements to.
Stage 6 The final stage is acquiring the order of subordinate clauses. In English this some- times differs from the order in the main clause. At this stage the learner is sort- ing out the more untypical orders in subordinate clauses after the ordinary main clause order has been learnt. The multidimensional model stresses that L2 learners have a series of interim grammars of English — interlanguages.
Their first grammar is just words; the sec- ond uses words in an SVO order; the third uses word order with some elements moved to the beginning or end, and so on. As with grammatical morphemes, this sequence seems inexorable: The recent development of the multidimensional model has been called the processability model because it explains these sequences in terms of the grammatical processes involved in the production of a sentence, which are roughly as follows: The processability model 31 In a sense, the teacher is helpless to do much about sequences like the grammat- ical morphemes order.
If all students have to acquire language in more or less the same sequence, the teacher can only fit in with it. This processability model leads to the teachability hypothesis: So teachers should teach accord- ing to the stage that their students are at. To take some examples from the above sequence: It may be that there are good teaching reasons why these suggestions should not be taken on board. For instance, when people tried postponing using questions for the first year of teaching to avoid movement, this created enormous practical problems in the classroom, where questions are the lifeblood.
But these ideas are nevertheless worth considering in the sequencing of materials, whatever other factors may over- rule them. Let us compare the sequence of elements in a typical EFL course with that in the processability model.
A typical modern course is Flying Colours Garton-Sprenger and Greenall, , intended for adult beginners. Thus it starts with words rather than structures, as does the processability model. Unit 2, however, plunges into questions: Certainly this early introduction of questions is a major difference from the processability model. While this is already late compared to courses that introduce the present continuous in lesson 1, it is far in advance of its posi- tion in the processability model sequence at stage 4.
Subordinate clauses are not mentioned in Flying Colours, apart from comparative clauses in Unit 6. Clearly subordinate clauses are not seen as particularly difficult; the processability model, however, insists that they are mastered last of all. One problem is very hard for language teaching to resolve. Many teaching techniques, however, assume that the point of an exercise is to get the student to produce sentences from the very first lesson that are completely correct in terms of the target language, even if they are severely restricted in terms of grammar and vocabulary.
Hence the classroom and the textbook can never fully reflect the stages that interlanguages go through, which may well be quite ungrammatical in terms of the target language for a long time — just as children only get round to fully grammatical sentences in their first language after many years. There is an implicit tension between the pres- sure on students to produce well-formed sentences and the natural stages that stu- dents go through.
Or should the teacher try to prevent them? Principles and parameters grammar 33 Box 2. Keywords Universal Grammar: All these capture some aspect of L2 learning and contribute to our knowledge of the whole. A radically different way of looking at grammar that has become popular in recent years, however, tries to see what human languages have in common. This is the Universal Grammar theory associ- ated with Noam Chomsky. Universal Grammar UG sees the knowledge of gram- mar in the mind as made up of two components: All human minds are believed to honour the common principles that are forced on them by the nature of the human mind that all their speakers share.
They differ over the settings for the parameters for particular languages. The overall implications of the UG model are given in Chapter To patch it up, you might suggest: The explanation again needs modifying to say: In other words, it presupposes that they know the structure of the sentence; anybody producing a question in English takes the structure of the sentence into account.
Inversion questions in English, and indeed in all other languages, involve a knowledge of structure, not just of the order of the words. There is no particular reason why this should be so; computer languages, for instance, do not behave like this, nor do mathematical equations.
It is just an odd feature of human lan- guages that they depend on structure. In short, the locality principle is built into the human mind. However, if the human mind always uses its built-in lan- guage principles, interlanguages too must conform to them.
It would be impossible for the L2 learner, say, to produce questions that did not depend on structure. And indeed no one has yet found sentences said by L2 learners that break the known lan- guage principles. Second language learners clearly have few problems with this deviant structure compared to other structures. Interlanguages do not vary without limit, but conform to the over- all mould of human language, since they are stored in the same human minds.
Like any scientific theory, this may be proved wrong. Tomorrow someone may find a learner who has no idea that questions depend on structure. But so far no one has found clear-cut examples of learners breaking these universal principles. Principles and parameters grammar 35 Parameters of variation How do parameters capture the many grammatical differences between lan- guages?
One variation is whether the grammatical subject of a declarative sen- tence has to be actually present in the sentence. The same is true for French, for English and for a great many languages. The same is true in Arabic and Chinese and many other languages. This variation is captured by the pro-drop parameter — so-called for technical reasons we will not go into here. The pro-drop parameter variation has effects on the grammars of all languages; each of them is either pro-drop or non-pro-drop.
Children learning their first language at first start with sentences without subjects Hyams, Then those who are learning a non-pro-drop language such as English go on to learn that subjects are compulsory.
The obvious question for L2 learning is whether it makes a difference if the first language does not have subjects and the second language does, and vice versa. Lydia White compared how English was learnt by speakers of French a non-pro-drop language with compulsory subjects and by speakers of Spanish a pro-drop language with optional subjects.
If the L1 setting for the pro-drop parameter has an effect, the Spanish-speaking learn- ers should make different mistakes from the French-speaking learners.
Oddly enough, this effect does not nec- essarily go in the reverse direction: English learners of Spanish do not have as much difficulty with leaving the subject out as Spanish learners of English have with put- ting it in. One attraction of this form of grammar is its close link to language acquisition, as we see in Chapter The parts of language that have to be learnt are the set- tings for the parameters on which languages vary. The parts which do not have to be learnt are the principles that all languages have in common.
Learning the grammar of a second language is not so much learning completely new structures, rules, and so on, as discovering how to set the parameters for the new language — for example, whether you have to use a subject, what the word order is within the phrase — and acquiring new vocabulary.
Another attraction is that it provides a framework within which all languages can be compared. It used to be difficult to compare grammars of different lan- guages, say, English and Japanese, because they were regarded as totally different. Now the grammars of all languages are seen as variations within a single overall scheme. Chinese, Arabic or Spanish students all have problems with the sub- ject in English because of their different setting for the pro-drop parameter.
The implications of this overall model for language learning and language teach- ing are described in greater detail in Chapter For the moment we need to point out that the study of grammar and of acquisition by linguists and SLA researchers in recent years has been much more concerned with the development of abstract ways of looking at phenomena like pro-drop than with the conventional grammar of earlier sections.
Language teaching will eventually miss out if it does not keep up with such new ideas of grammar Cook, Principles and parameters theory puts grammar on a different plane from anything in language teaching. Hence teachers will not find any quick help with carrying out conventional grammar teaching in such forms of grammar. But they will nevertheless understand better what the students are learning and the processes they are going through. It is an insightful way of looking at language which teachers have not hitherto been conscious of.
Let us gather together some of the threads about grammar and teaching intro- duced so far in this chapter. If the syllabus that the student is learning includes grammar in some shape or form, this should be not just a matter of structures and rules but a range of highly complex phenomena, a handful of which have been discussed in this chapter.
The L2 learning of grammar has turned out to be wider and deeper than anyone supposed. Teaching has to pay attention to the internal processes and knowledge the students are subconsciously building up in their minds.
Grammar is also relevant to the sequence in which elements of language are taught. Of necessity, language teaching has to present the various aspects of lan- guage in order, rather than introducing them all simultaneously. This is typical of the sequences that have been developed for EFL teaching over the past hundred years, based chiefly on the tense system.
While it has been tested in prac- tice, it has no particular justification from SLA research. When language use and classroom tasks became more important to teaching, the choice of a teaching sequence was no longer straightforward, since some way of sequencing these non-grammatical items needed to be found. SLA research has often claimed that there are definite orders for learning language, particularly for grammar, as we have seen.
What should teachers do about this? Four extreme points of view can be found: Teachers should therefore get on with teaching the thousand and one other things that the student needs, and should let nature follow its course.
So the order of teaching should follow the order found in L2 learning as much as possible. The students can best be helped by being given the extreme point of the sequence and by filling in the intermediary positions for themselves.
It has been claimed, for example, that teaching the most difficult types of relative clauses is more effective than teach- ing the easy forms, because the students fill in the gaps for themselves sponta- neously rather than needing them filled by teaching. Obviously this depends on the definition of grammar: As with pronunciation, an additional problem is which grammar to use.
Traditionally for English the model has been taken to be that of a literate edu- cated native speaker from an English-speaking country. This, however, ignores the differences between varieties of English spoken in different countries. And similar issues arise in choosing a grammatical model for most languages that are used across a variety of countries: No one would probably hold completely to these simplified views.
The fuller implications of the L2 order of learning or difficulty depend on the rest of teach- ing. Teaching must balance grammar against language functions, vocabulary, class- room interaction, and much else that goes on in the classroom to find the appropriate teaching for those students in that situation.
Teachers do not necessar- ily have to choose between these alternatives once and for all. A different decision may have to be made for each area of grammar or language and each stage of acqui- sition. The role of explicit grammar in language teaching 39 Box 2. In what way? Keywords consciousness-raising: It is something else to say that the stu- dents themselves should be aware of grammar.
Indeed, Chapter 1 showed that the nineteenth- and twentieth-century teaching tradition has avoided explicit gram- mar in the classroom. This section looks at some of the ideas that have been raised about using grammatical terms and descriptions with the student. Though the dis- cussion happens to concentrate on grammar, the same issues arise about the use of phonetic symbols in pronunciation teaching, the class discussion of meanings of words, or the explanations of language functions, all of which depend on the stu- dents consciously understanding the rules and features of language.
One issue is the extent to which grammatical form and meaning should be sep- arated. A linguist might object that grammar is a system for encoding and decoding particular meanings; any teaching of grammar that does not involve meaning is not teaching grammar at all. However, the distinction between FormS and FonF does focus attention away from grammar explanation for its sake, towards thinking how grammar may contribute within the whole context of lan- guage teaching methodology, as described in Chapter Explicit grammar teaching This revives the classical debate in language teaching about whether grammar should be explained to the students, as mentioned in Chapter 1.
Usually the kind of grammar involved is the traditional or structural grammar described earlier, exemplified in books such as Basic Grammar in Use Murphy, ; seldom does it mean grammar in the sense of knowledge of principles and parameters such as locality and pro-drop.
Hence it has often been argued that the problem with teaching grammar overtly is not the method itself but the type of grammar that has been used.
Most linguists would regard these grammars as the equivalent to using alchemy as the basis for teaching chemistry. Other types of grammar are hardly ever used. If the grammar content were better, perhaps explicit grammar teaching would be more effective. The use of explicit explanation implies that L2 learning is different from L1 learning, where it never occurs.
The main issue is the connection between conscious understanding of a rule and the ability to use it. Any linguist can tell you facts about languages such as Japanese or Gboudi that their native speakers could not describe.
This does not mean the linguists can say a single word, let alone a sentence, of Japanese or Gboudi in a comprehensible way. In their case this satisfies their needs. Grammatical explanation is a way of teaching facts about the language — that is to say, a form of linguistics. If the aim of teaching is academic knowledge of language, conscious understanding is acceptable as a form of L2 learning.
Grammatical explanation in the classroom has relied on the assumption that rules which are learnt consciously can be converted into unconscious processes of comprehension and production. Some people have questioned whether academic knowledge ever converts into the ability to use the language in this way.
The French subjunctive was explained to me at school, not just to give me academic knowledge of the facts of French, but to help me to write French. Stephen Krashen , however, has persistently denied that consciously learnt rules change into normal speech processes in the same way as grammar that is acquired unconsciously, sometimes called the non-interface position, that is, that learnt grammar does not convert into the acquired grammar that speech depends on.
Conscious knowledge of language rules in this view is no more than an optional extra. Convincing as these claims may be, one should remember that many graduates of European universities who learnt English by studying traditional grammars turned into fluent and spontaneous speakers of English. I asked university-level students of English which explicit grammar rules they had found useful; almost all said that they still sometimes visualized verb paradigms for English to check what they were writing.
This at least suggests that the conversion of conscious rules to non-conscious processes does take place for some academic students; every teaching method works for someone somewhere. Language awareness An alternative possibility is that raising awareness of language in general helps second language learning.
If the students know the kind of thing to expect in the new language, they are more receptive to it. They invent their own labels for grammar, rather than being taught a pre-established system. The textbook Learning to Learn English Ellis and Sinclair, pro- vides some exercises to make EFL learners more aware of their own predilections, for instance, suggesting ways for the students to discover grammatical rules them- selves. Philip Riley suggested sensitization of the students by using features of the first language to help them understand the second, say, by discussing puns to help them see how speech is split up into words.
Increasing awareness of lan- guage may have many educational advantages and indeed help L2 learning in a broad sense. Raised awareness of language is in itself a goal of some language teaching.
It has no particular seal of approval from the types of grammar consid- ered in this chapter, however. As Mike Long However, she found variation between individuals rather than a consistent pattern. The group who were given explanations did indeed do better than the other groups for the adjectives, but there were only slight effects for pas- sives.
Hence there seems to be a difference in the extent to which grammatical forms lend themselves to focus on form: Nevertheless, the point is that all the parts of grammar cannot be treated in the same way. Because we can help students by clearing up their confusions over past tense endings, we cannot necessarily do the same with relative clauses.
The teaching applications of FonF are discussed at greater length in Chapter 13 as part of task-based teaching. The overall feeling is that judicious use of focus on form within other activities may be useful, rather than full-scale grammar explanation. The focus on form FonF argument combines sev- eral different threads, all of which are fruitful for teachers to think about: Nor does it answer the question of which type of grammar is appro- priate for language teaching.
Much teaching simply uses structural or traditional grammar without realizing that there are alternative approaches, or indeed that such approaches are not taken seriously as grammar today. Teaching can utilize the known facts about these stages in several ways. Discussion topics 1 Here are seven techniques for teaching grammar. Decide in the light of the var- ious approaches in this chapter what the chief advantage or disadvantage may be for each.
Grammar teaching technique Advantage Disadvantage explanation What type of grammar does it employ? How successfully? For example, what things do you feel people should not say? How much atten- tion do they receive in teaching?
How much should they receive? How important do you think that order of presentation is to language teaching? Would this be a good idea? Further reading A good overview of grammatical morphemes research is in Goldschneider and DeKeyser An Introduction. Various viewpoints on grammar and language teaching are summarized in Odlin Pedagogical Grammar. Otherwise the reader is referred to the books and arti- cles cited in the text.
Processability Theory. Some grammatical terms See also the glossary on the website. English has two numbers: Learning and teaching vocabulary 3 The acquisition of vocabulary at first sight seems straightforward; we all know you need a large number of words to speak a language.
But there is far more to acquiring vocabulary than the acquisition of words. Since the late s there has been a massive explosion in research into the acqui- sition of vocabulary, seen in books such as Nation However, much of it is concerned with the acquisition of isolated words in laboratory experiments and is tested by whether people remember them, not whether they can use them. While such research gives some hints, much of it has little to say about how we can teach people to use a second language vocabulary.
Would you teach them all to beginners? Keywords word frequency: Traditional syllabuses for language teaching usually include lists of the most frequent words. Now that vast collections of language are easily accessible on the computer, counting the frequencies of words is fairly simple. The top words account for 45 per cent of all the words in the BNC; in other words, knowing words would allow you at least to recognize nearly half of the words you meet in English.
Usually the teaching of structure words is seen as part of grammar, not vocabulary. Frequency is taken to apply more to content words. Nevertheless we should not forget that the most frequent words in the language are mostly structure words: The 20 most frequent words in the BNC for three types of content word are given in Table 3. This list also has some surprises for teachers.
Influential as frequency has been in teaching, it has not played a major role in SLA research. It is true that you are more likely to remember a word you meet every day than one you only meet once. But there are many other factors that make students learn words. Frequency of vocabulary has been applied in teaching mainly to the choice of words to be taught. In a sense, the most useful words for the student are obviously going to be those that are common.
But it is unnecessary to worry about fre- quency too much. If the students are getting reasonably natural English from their coursebooks and their teachers, the common words will be supplied auto- matically. Any natural English the students hear will have the proper frequencies of words; it is only the edited texts and conversations of the classroom that do not have these properties, for better or worse.
Box 3. Learning vocabulary means acquiring long lists of words with their mean- ings, whether through some direct link or via translation into the first language. Coursebooks often have vocabulary lists that organize the words in the course alphabetically, sometimes with brief translations. However, a word in the Lang5 sense of language as knowledge in the mind is more than its meaning.
Words have specific spellings and are linked to the spelling rules of the language. The Universal Grammar model of language acquisition, described in Chapter 12, claims that the argument structure of words is pivotal in language acquisition. We have to know when and to whom it is appropriate to use a word. This unsourced knowledge suggests the existence of a universal grammar.
Main article: Individual variation in second-language acquisition There is considerable variation in the rate at which people learn second languages, and in the language level that they ultimately reach.
Some learners learn quickly and reach a near-native level of competence, but others learn slowly and get stuck at relatively early stages of acquisition, despite living in the country where the language is spoken for several years. The reason for this disparity was first addressed with the study of language learning aptitude in the s, and later with the good language learner studies in the s. More recently research has focused on a number of different factors that affect individuals' language learning, in particular strategy use, social and societal influences, personality, motivation, and anxiety.
The relationship between age and the ability to learn languages has also been a subject of long-standing debate. Age[ edit ] The issue of age was first addressed with the critical period hypothesis. However, the exact age marking the end of the critical period is debated, and ranges from age 6 to 13, with many arguing that it is around the onset of puberty.
However, in general, adolescent and adult learners of a second-language rarely achieve the native-like fluency that children who acquire both languages from birth display, despite often progressing faster in the initial stages. This has led to speculation that age is indirectly related to other, more central factors that affect language learning.
Children who acquire two languages from birth are called simultaneous bilinguals. In these cases, both languages are spoken to the children by their parents or caregivers and they grow up knowing the two languages. These children generally reach linguistic milestones at the same time as their monolingual peers. People often assume that a sequential bilingual's first language is their most proficient language, but this is not always the case.
Over time and experience, a child's second language may become his or her strongest. Proficiency for both simultaneous and sequential bilinguals is dependent upon the child's opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations in a variety of contexts.
One argument for this is that simultaneous bilinguals develop more distinct representations of their languages, especially with regards to phonological and semantic levels of processing.
Learning a language earlier in life would help develop these distinct representations of language, as the learner's first language would be less established. Conversely, learning a language later in life would lead to more similar semantic representations.
Once surpassed, older learners often display clear language deficiencies compared to child learners. This has been attributed to having a solid grasp on the first language or mother tongue they were first immersed into. Having this cognitive ability already developed can aid the process of learning a second language since there is a better understanding of how language works. The exact language deficiencies that occur past a certain age are not unanimously agreed upon.
Some believe that only pronunciation is affected, while others believe other abilities are affected as well. However, some differences that are generally agreed upon include older learners having a noticeable accent, a smaller vocabulary, and making several linguistic errors. One explanation for this difference in proficiency between older learners and younger learners involves Universal Grammar.
Universal Grammar is a debated theory that suggests that people have innate knowledge of universal linguistic principles that is present from birth.
The rules and principles that guide the use of the learners' native language plays a role in the way the second language is developed. Even with less advantageous nonbiological influences, many young children attain a greater level of proficiency in their second language than older learners with more advantageous nonbiological influences.
Strategies have been found to be of critical importance, so much so that strategic competence has been suggested as a major component of communicative competence. Learning strategies are techniques used to improve learning, such as mnemonics or using a dictionary.
Communicative strategies are strategies a learner uses to convey meaning even when he or she doesn't have access to the correct form, such as using pro-forms like thing, or using non-verbal means such as gestures. If learning strategies and communicative strategies are used properly language acquisition is successful.
Some points to keep in mind while learning an additional language are: providing information that is of interest to the student, offering opportunities for the student to share their knowledge and teaching appropriate techniques for the uses of the learning resources available. Anxiety in language-learning situations has been almost unanimously shown to be detrimental to successful learning. Anxiety interferes with the mental processing of language because the demands of anxiety-related thoughts create competition for mental resources.
This results in less available storage and energy for tasks required for language processing. Further, the apprehension created as a result of anxiety inhibits the learner's ability to retrieve and produce the correct information. A related factor, personality, has also received attention. There has been discussion about the effects of extravert and introvert personalities. Extraverted qualities may help learners seek out opportunities and people to assist with L2 learning, whereas introverts may find it more difficult to seek out such opportunities for interaction.
Further, while extraversion might be beneficial through its encouragement of learning autonomously, it may also present challenges as learners may find reflective and time-management skills to be difficult. Both genetics and the learner's environment impact the personality of the learner, either facilitating or hindering an individual's ability to learn.
Social attitudes such as gender roles and community views toward language learning have also proven critical. Language learning can be severely hampered by cultural attitudes, with a frequently cited example being the difficulty of Navajo children in learning English[ citation needed ]. Also, the motivation of the individual learner is of vital importance to the success of language learning. Motivation is influenced by goal salience , valence , and self-efficacy.
However, motivation is dynamic and, as a L2 learner's fluency develops, their extrinsic motivation may evolve to become more intrinsic. Further, a supportive learning environment facilitates motivation through the increase in self-confidence and autonomy.
Main article: Second-language attrition Attrition is the loss of proficiency in a language caused by a lack of exposure to or use of a language. One way it does this is by using L1 as a tool to navigate the periods of change associated with acquisition and attrition. A learner's L2 is not suddenly lost with disuse, but its communicative functions are slowly replaced by those of the L1.
However, according to the regression hypothesis, the stages of attrition occur in reverse order of acquisition. With acquisition, receptive skills develop first, and then productive skills, and with attrition, productive skills are lost first, and then receptive skills.
However, if a child has established a high level of proficiency, it may take them several years to lose the language. Proficiency level seems to play the largest role in the extent of attrition. For very proficient individuals, there is a period of time where very little, if any, attrition is observed.
For some, residual learning might even occur, which is the apparent improvement within the L2. A cognitive psychological explanation for this suggests that a higher level of proficiency involves the use of schemas , or mental representations for linguistic structures.
Schemas involve deeper mental processes for mental retrieval that are resistant to attrition. As a result, information that is tied to this system is less likely to experience less extreme attrition than information that is not. In particular, motivation and attitude influence the process. Higher levels of motivation, and a positive attitude toward the language and the corresponding community may lessen attrition.
This is likely due to the higher level of competence achieved in L2 when the learner is motivated and has a positive attitude. This kind of research has a significant overlap with language education , and it is mainly concerned with the effect that instruction has on the learner.
It also explores what teachers do, the classroom context, the dynamics of classroom communication. It is both qualitative and quantitative research.