You are on page 1of 17

Approaches to Second

Language Acquisition
Created by:
Sarah Hatcher
Smyrna High School
srh4m@mtmail.mtsu.edu

Approach 1: Behaviorism

Psychologist B.F. Skinner is known for his


work in behaviorism and operant
conditioning

Skinner believed that major influence(s) on


human behavior are learned from the learning
environment (www.simplypsychology.org)

Approach 1: Behaviorism

When applied specifically to language


learning, Skinner & behaviorists believed that
language acquisition occurred from a set of
automatic habits that developed as a result of
imitation (Craig, n.d.)
This view fell out of style when more research
became available citing that structured rules
of grammar and language were not imitated,
but learned

Approach 2: Innatism

Innatism and language acquisition was


made known from the work of Noam
Chomsky in the 1950s and 1960s.
This theory has the learner as an active
participant in creating the language, not
simply imitating it (Chomsky, 1965)

Approach 2: Innatism

Chomsky believes that the Language


Acquisition Device, located in the brain, helps
children produce and understand language

This would mean that children do not simply


imitate language, as Skinner thought

Based on Innatism, Chomsky proposes that


people have the ability to identify correctly
formed sentences, regardless of meaning
(Chomsky, 2008)

Approach 3: Interactionism

The Interactionist approach focuses on the


social aspects of language learning and
learner interaction
This approach focuses on the nature of
interactions in second language learning

Approach 3: Interactionism

Interactionists also found that


communication, making mistakes, and
error correction promoted second language
acquisition (Lyster & Ranta, 1998)
Interactions become a source of input and
are essential to second language acquisition
(Lantolf, 2000)

Age: A critical factor in SLA

Research suggests that natural language


acquisition can only take place between the
ages of two and twelve years, known as the
critical period hypothesis (CPH)
(Lenneburg, 1967).
The brain begins to cement pathways and is
lateralized around the time of puberty
(VanSickle & Ferris, n.d.).

Age: A critical factor in SLA

Before puberty, language acquisition and


processing takes place in both hemispheres.
After puberty, brain experiences a loss of
plasticity or ability to process language
as easily (Lenneburg, 1967).

Context & Contextual Factors in SLA

SLA varies by individual student

Factors include: age, first language


knowledge, motivation, and gender

3 contextual factors to consider in SLA


(Walqui, 2000):

Language
Learner
Learning Process

Contextual Factors: Language


and Learner

Language: Student proficiency in L1,


knowledge of L2, and attitude

Also includes similarities and differences


between L1 and L2

Learner: Goals set by teacher & learner,


diversity in classroom setting, home
environment/support

Contextual Factors: Learning Process

Learning Process: Learning style and


motivation of the student must be
addressed

Cultural influences and interactions with


peers should be considered in SLA

Tips for Teachers

Know your students!

Learning more about the contextual factors your


students bring to the classroom can help you plan
lessons to meet the diverse needs of your students

Plan engaging lessons!

Students are always more interested when they can


apply what they learn in the classroom to their
liveslearn what they are interested in to help
promote conversation in L2 with peers. This will
also help create a welcoming classroom environment.

Best Approach for My Students

The best approach for my students to learn Spanish is


the interactionist theory.
High school students take Spanish with the ultimate goal
of communication (written and oral)
Interactionism focuses on social aspects
of that language learningthese are
accomplished in class through partner speaking
activities, writing about themselves, presentations, and others

Performing a variety of activities, typically with other students,


builds confidence and allows students to use the language to
interact with others, as well as learn from their mistakes through
error correction (Lyster & Ranta, 1998).

My Favorite Approach

Not only do I think it is the best approach for my students, but


my favorite SLA approach is also interactionist
As I mentioned in the previous slide, to me, the basis of
language is communication and most of this is going to occur
socially, with others
The cycle of error correction and subsequent learning promotes
their second language acquisition.
By communicating in class and receiving feedback from me,
they are able to correct errors and learn from them.
Through the variety of activities we do in class (partner
dialogues, class presentations, group presentations), students
interact with each other and myself to learn more Spanish.

Resources on SLA

See the websites below for more tips and


information about SLA:

Wheaton Colleges Institute for Cross Cultural Training site with SLA
resources: http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/ICCT/slares/SLAresources.html
University of Minnesotas Center of Advanced Research on Language
Acquisition, Teacher Resources for Language Learning Strategies:
http://www.carla.umn.edu/strategies/resources/index.html
An article about SLA and its significance for learning and teaching
http://www.llas.ac.uk/resources/gpg/421
Excellent bibliographic site with links to various aspects of SLA:
http://jillrobbins.com/gwu/257/sla_bib.html
Another bibliographic site with links to various aspects of SLA:
http://teacherweb.com/FL/StonemanDouglasHS/FloridaNBPTSWLOE/links1.aspx

References

Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge: MIT Press.


Chomsky, N. (2008). Noam Chomsky talks about universal grammar. Retrieved May 24, 2011
from http://www.usingenglish.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/19 .
Craig, D.V. (n.d.). Formal approaches to second language acquisition. Retrieved from
https://elearn.mtsu.edu/d2l/lms/content/viewer/main_frame.d2l?ou=1933713&tId=18292338
Lantolf, J. P. (Ed.) (2000). Sociocultural theory and second language learning.
Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Lenneberg, E.H. (1967) Biological foundations of language. New York: Wiley and sons.
Lyster, R. & Ranta, E. (1997). Corrective feedback and learner uptake: Negotiation of form in
communicative classrooms. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 19, 37-61.
Skinner: Operant Conditioning. (n.d.) Retrieved May 24, 2011, from
http://www.apastyle.org/learn/faqs/web-page-no-author.aspx
VanSickle, J. & Ferris, S. (n.d.). Second language acquisition: The age factor. Retrieved May 24,
2011 from http://www.crosscultured.com/articles/agesla.pdf.
Walqui, A. (2000). Contextual factors in second language acquisition. Retrieved May 24, 2011
from http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/0005contextual.html