Chapter 11 Second language acquisition Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chapter 11 Second language acquisition Deck (35):

Second language acquisition (SLA)

the process of attaining proficiency in a language other than the first language.



Simultaneous acquisition of two languages from birth. This term is also used casually to refer to any strong proficiency in two languages, regardless of how it is attained.


interlanguage grammar

L2 learners have a systematic interlanguage grammar, which is influenced by both the L1 and the L2.



involves carrying over features, words, or rules from the L1 into the interlanguage grammar. can interact with rules from the L2 grammar, showing the influence of both.



The interlanguage gradually changes as more properties of the L2 are acquired.
• When the interlanguage stops changing, it is said to have fossilized.


communicative competence

A speaker’s total proficiency in a second language;
Grammatical competence
Textual competence
Illocutionary competence
Sociolinguistic competence


Grammatical competence

knowledge of phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.


Textual competence

knowledge of how to link grammatical utterances together into a coherent (written or spoken) narrative.


Illocutionary competence

knowledge of how language use varies in different discourse contexts, e.g. formal vs. informal


Sociolinguistic competence

knowledge of how linguistic expressions are used to achieve different goals, e.g. to express a statement, a request, a command, a wish, etc.


Markedness Differential Hypothesis (MDH)

unmarked structures are easier to acquire in SLA than marked ones.
Unmarked structures are simpler and/or more common cross-linguistically, while marked ones are more complex and/or rarer


Markedness can depend on the linguistic environment.

word-final voicing contrasts imply word-medial contrasts, which imply word-initial contrasts.
• Thus, voicing contrasts are less marked word- initially, and more marked word-finally.
The MDH predicts that will be easiest to learn voicing contrasts in word-initial position, since this is the least-marked position for voicing contrasts.


Similarity Differential Rate Hypothesis (SDRH)

speakers will be faster to acquire an L2 phenomenon that is unlike their L1 than to acquire one that is like their L1.
Haitian Creole speaker acquiring English [r]/[l]:
• HC [ʁ]: acquire English [ɹ] quickly
• HC [l]: no problem with English alveolar [l], but acquire English velarized [ł] slowly
English [ł] is harder to acquire because it is more similar to the HC sound than [ɹ] is.


Null Subject Parameter.

The subject of a tensed clause {may / may not} be null.
a. *Speaks French. [–NS]
b. (El) habla español. [+NS]
‘S/he speaks Spanish
Null subject languages (like Spanish and Italian) seem to allow postverbal subjects as well, unlike non-null subject languages (like English and French).
also allow wh- movement of an embedded subject past a declarative complementizer, while non-null subject languages do not.


Subset Principle

states that the initial or default setting of a parameter will be the subset value, i.e. the one that generates the fewest grammatical options


positive evidence

In SLA, to reset a parameter from the subset to the superset value, only positive evidence is required


negative evidence

To reset a parameter from the superset to the subset value, negative evidence is required—either direct (information about ungrammaticality) or indirect (noticing the absence of positive evidence for the superset setting).


L2 speakers often omit inflectional morphology and function words

Example: Patty (Chinese L1, late L2 learner)
You know, I call Bill this morning and nobody answer. And I start to worry... He either stay in Eliotville, because he said he __ call me last night, and he never did.


Impaired Representation Hypothesis

holds that such omissions indicate a deficient interlanguage grammar.


Missing Surface Inflection Hypothesis

holds that the errors are more superficial.
finite Tense features are responsible for nominative case


age of acquisition

of a second language can influence proficiency, with an advantage for younger learners
especially true of phonology; more variation is seen in other areas of communicative competence


Universal Grammar (positive evidence)

Evidence that SLA accesses Universal Grammar would be the interlanguage grammar is like the grammar of primary languages, especially languages other than L1 and L2.


Universal Grammar (negative evidence)

Evidence that SLA fails to access Universal Grammar would be that the interlanguage grammar has properties not seen in primary languages.


individual variation

among late L2 learners: some become near-nativelike, while others do not.
can be influenced by the learner’s degree of motivation
different types of motivation, known as instrumental (driven by a narrow goal) or integrative (driven by a desire to learn more about a culture)


instrumental motivation

driven by a narrow goal


integrative motivation

driven by a desire to learn more about a culture


Field-independent learners

are said to be good with details, and do well on analytic tasks, such as grammar tests


Field-dependent learners

are said to be good at seeing the big picture, and do well on tasks requiring broader communicative competence


L2 classroom typically involves:

• Modified input: “teacher talk”
• Modified interaction: comprehension checks, repetition, recasts
• Focus on form: explicit grammatical instruction and corrections


Bilingual education includes

Minority language maintenance programs
Immersion programs


Minority language maintenance programs

help children speaking a minority L1 language to acquire academic skills, including knowledge of a majority language.
usually begin with instruction in the children’s L1, then gradually introduces the (majority) L2.
By grade 6, the kids match the performance of their L1 and L2 peers


Immersion programs

usually broaden the linguistic experience of children speaking a majority L1 language.
use the L2 as the medium of instruction.
it is treated as an L2 for all students, so no one is at a disadvantage


dual language programs

where (monolingual or bilingual) native speakers of two different languages receive instruction in both languages.



putting minority language L1 speakers in a monolingual L2 school
puts these children at an immediate disadvantage, with lasting negative consequences


French Immersion

By grade 6, on average outstrip their monolingual peers in academic performance.
• Their receptive L2 skills—reading and listening—end up virtually nativelike.
• Their productive skills are at an advanced level, though not nativelike.