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Week 10: Second Language Acquisition

Input, interaction and second language acquisition

Input and interaction in FLA

Input in SLA
Interaction in SLA Output in SLA Negative evidence in language acquisition Negative evidence in the L2 classroom Attention, consciousness-raising and focus

on form

Input and interaction in FLA

Baby talk: special speech style, or simplified

register, used by adults and caretakers when talking with young children. Child-directed speech (CDS): research tradition focusing on how caretakers interactions with young children help facilitate language acquisition

Input and interaction in FLA (contd)

CDS and plausible effect on childrens

linguistic development

Manage attention Promote positive effect Improve intelligibility Facilitate segmentation Provide feedback Provide correct models Reduce processing load Encourage conversational participation Explicitly teach social routines

Input and interaction in FLA (contd)

CDS is typically semantically contingent, i.e. the

caretaker talks with the child about objects and events to which the child is already pay attention. Recasts are common. Child: Fix Lily Mother: Oh Lily will fix it.

Explicit formal corrections of the childs productions = useful negative evidence Usually an expanded and grammatically correct version of a prior child utterance Positive correlations between the proportion of recasts used by a childs caretakers, and his or her overall rate of development.

Input and interaction in FLA (contd)

A relationship of particular formal characteristics of

CDS and childrens developing control of particular constructions the caretakers use of inverted yes-no questions (Have you been sleeping?) and childrens development of verbal auxiliaries in L1 English (salient fronted auxiliary vis vis questions marked through intonation) Caretakers speech is derived primarily from the communicative goal of engaging in conversation with a linguistically and cognitively less competent partner, and sustaining and directing attention, not teaching. Cross-cultural studies of CDS show that children learn to speak perfectly well under a wide variety of sociocultural conditions. Finely-tuned CDS is actually not necessary.

Input and interaction in FLA (contd)

Group settings encourage children to imitate and

produce unanalysed and rote-learned segments, picked up in routinised situations Children will not normally learn a language to which they are merely exposed in a decontexualised way, e.g. on TV. Multi-dimensional models of acquisition are necessary, including parental input, learning mechanisms and procedures, and innate constraints build into the child. Studies are necessary that look at the relationship between particular features of the input, and related features in the childs linguistic repertoire.

Input in SLA
Foreigner talk: a simplified and pidgin-like variety

sometimes used to address strangers and foreigners. Krashens input hypothesis: The availability of (comprehensible) input is the only necessary and sufficient condition for language learning to take place

Humans acquire language in only one way by understanding messages, or by receiving comprehensible input We move from i, our current level, to i + 1, the next level along the natural order, by understanding input containing i + 1 (Krashen, 1985, p.2) Speaking is a result of acquisition and not its cause If input is understood, and there is enough of it, the necessary grammar is automatically provided.

Input in SLA (contd)

3 stages in turning input into intake

Understand an L2 i + 1 form (meaning) Notice a gap between an L2 i + 1 form and the IL rule which the learner currently controls (later omitted, as acquisition takes place entirely incidentally or without awareness) The i + 1 form reappears. Some criticisms Its not clear how the learners present state of knowledge (i) is to be characterised. Its not clear whether the i + 1 formular is intended to apply to all aspects of language. The processes whereby language in the social environment is analysed and new elements are identified and processed are not spelled out.

Interaction in SLA
Typical register, Foreigner Talk Discourse, addressed

to L2 learners is grammatically simplified utterances, i.e. shorter, with less complex grammar and a narrower range of vocabulary.

Does it help promote L2 acquisition? How?

Longs interactional hypothesis (an extension of

Krashens Input hypothesis) 3 steps

Linguistic/conversational adjustments promote comprehension of input. Comprehensible input promotes acquisition. Therefore, linguistic/conversational adjustments promote acquisition.

Interaction in SLA (contd)

Longs study

16 NS-NNS, 16 NS-NS pairs, face-to-face oral tasks Little difference between the two groups (grammatical complexity) Significant difference in the use of conversational tactics (NS-NNS) such as repetitions, confirmation checks, comprehension checks or clarification requests. (p. 168) Modifications to the interactional structure of conversations that take place in the process of negotiating a communication problem help make input comprehensible to an L2 learner. The more the input was queried, recycled and paraphrased, to increase its comprehensibility, the greater its potential usefulness as input. Types of tasks in which both partners are engaged may affect the types or amount of meaning negotiation (problemsolving tasks vs. open-ended discussions)

Interaction in SLA (contd)

Research evidence shows the relationship

between interactional modifications and increased comprehension. Mixed results were found in the studies that tried to find the relationship between interactional modifications and acquisition.

Reformulated Interaction Hypothesis

Selective attention plays an important role in

the processing of comprehensible input during the negotiation of meaning.

Negative evidence obtained during

negotiation of meaning may be facilitative of L2 development

Output in SLA
Functions of learner output The noticing/triggering function consciousnessraising role The hypothesis-testing function The metalinguistic function, - reflective role The production of TL may push the learner to

become aware of gaps and problems in their current L2 system (noticing) It provides them with opportunities to experiment with new structures and forms (testing hypothesis) It provides them with opportunities to reflect on, discuss and analyse these problems explicitly (reflecting)

Output in SLA (contd)

Only L2 production (i.e. output) really forces learners

to undertake complete grammatical processing and drive forward the development of L2 syntax and morphology

Comprehension vs. Production

(Pushed) Learner output seems most useful in the

area of vocabulary Not enough evidence is obtained on the relationship between learner output and the learning of grammar. Rich input combined with a variety of noticing activities may be enough to facilitate grammar learning.

Negative evidence in language acquisition

FLA Caretakers speech is in general regular and well-formed, i.e. positive evidence Explicit negative evidence (parental correction of a childs mistake) is rare. (Implicit) negative evidence is regularly available in CDS, exists in a usable form and is picked up and used by child learners at least in the short term. ?? Negative evidence is necessary for acquisition to take place.

Negative evidence in language acquisition (contd)

SLA: Two main questions

To what extent is indirect negative evidence about the nature of L2 made available to L2 learners, in the course of interaction? To what extent do learners notice and make use of this evidence?

Negative evidence in language acquisition (contd)

Main focuses: Spoken interaction

Different kinds of negative feedback i.e. negotiation moves (e.g. clarification requests, confirmation checks) Effects of recasts i.e. responses to non-target NNS utterances that provide a TL ways of expressing the original meaning.

Student: Why does the aliens attacked earth? Teacher: Right. Why did the aliens attack earth?

Negative evidence in language acquisition (contd)

Main focuses (contd)

Learners uptake of recasts, i.e. immediately following utterances produced by the learner.

Teacher: What did you do in the garden? NNS student: Mm, cut the tree Teacher: You cut the trees. Were they big trees or were they little bushes? NNS student: Big trees

Negative evidence in language acquisition (contd)

Olivers study (1995): availability of negative

evidence in conversational Foreigner Talk Discourse and its usability and take-up More than 60% of the errors made by the NNS children subjects received negative evidence from NS partners.

Negotiation moves multiple errors, semantic ambiguity

NNS: It go just one line NS: Just along the line? NNS: Yer

Negative evidence in language acquisition (contd)

Recasts single errors, specific grammatical mistakes

NNS: And the boy is holding the girl hand and NS: Yer. The boy is holding the girls hand.

Child learners incorporated just under 10% of

the recasts into their following utterances.

input, and in this case, recasts can only be usable if they are within the learnability range of the NNS a substantial proportion of the recasts that were not incorporated were beyond the current L2 processing abilities of the NNSs.

Negative evidence in language acquisition (contd)

The amount of negative feedback is variable,

depending on interlocutor (adults, children) and on setting.

Negative feedback occurs regularly in most

kinds of L2 interaction, in response to non-TL utterances Learners try to produce more TL utterances.

Negative evidence in the L2 classroom

Research tradition: Classroom error correction 60% Recasts (not leading to immediate selfcorrection, however) 34% Negotiation of form 6% Explicit meta-linguistic correction

Student: Teacher:

I goed to the movies last night. Go is an irregular verb and it does not form its past tense with the ending ed.

Negative feedback types varied according to

the type of error made.

Lexical errors negotiation moves Grammatical and phonological errors recasts

Negative evidence in the L2 classroom (contd)


More effective with phonological errors (60% repair) than grammatical errors (22% repair, mostly with Ts negotiation) Recasts are not effective, e.g. in communicative classroom

Attention, consciousness-raising and focus on form

The amount of L2 learners attention to form may

influence the extent to which L2 input and interaction actually produce L2 intake Noticing (selective attention) = the process of bringing some stimulus into focal attention (voluntarily or involuntarily) Noticing is the necessary and sufficient condition for the conversion of input to intake for learning (Schmidt, 1994: 17) The accuracy of the (recast) repetition depends on

Language level Length of the recast Number of corrections in the recast

Attention, consciousness-raising and focus on form (contd)

The effectiveness of recast is probably due to

the saliency of the new form within the recast. The saliency of the form helps L2 learners to attend to forms, which in turn can lead to greater development by highlighting specific forms in the input.