second language learning theories

second language learning theories

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Second language acquisition (SLA) is a relatively new field of enquiry. Before the late 1960s, educators did write about L2 learning, but very much as an adjunct of language teaching pedagogy, underpinned by behaviourism, the then-dominant learning theory in psychology. In this view, the task facing learners of foreign languages was to rote-learn and practise the grammatical patterns and vocabulary of the language to be learnt, in order to form new ‘habits’, that is to create new stimulus–response pairings which would become stronger with reinforcement. In order for the ‘old habits’ of the L1 not to interfere with this process by being ‘copied’, or transferred, into the L2, researchers embarked on thorough descriptions of pairs of languages to be learnt, in order to identify areas that are different and would thus be difficult.
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The book covers all the main theoretical perspectives currently active in SLA and sets each chapter within a broader framework. Each chapter examines the claims and scope of each theory and how each views language, the learner and the acquisition process, supplemented by summaries of key studies and data examples from a variety of languages. Chapters end with an evaluative summary of the theories discussed. Key features to this fourth edition include updated accounts of developments in cognitive approaches to second language (L2) learning, the implications of advances in generative linguistics and the “social turn” in L2 research, with re-worked chapters on functional, sociocultural and sociolinguistic perspectives, and an entirely new chapter on theory integration, in addition to updated examples using new studies.
Written by a team of leading experts working in different SLA specialisms, this fourth edition is a clear and concise introduction to the main theories of second language acquisition (SLA) from multiple perspectives, comprehensively updated to reflect the very latest developments SLA research in recent years.

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The intent of this chapter is to provide a selective overview of current second language acquisition (SLA) research. I begin by presenting several approaches to SLA, including formal linguistics, sociolinguistics/sociocultural theory and psycholinguistics. I then consider the roles of input, interaction, feedback and output as they relate to the acquisition of second language knowledge. The goal of this latter part is to show how this view of acquisition (the Input/Interaction/Output (IIO) approach) allows researchers to take into account a number of concepts which are necessary for understanding how second language learning takes place. In particular, I consider the role of attention as it relates to second language (L2) learning, particularly in the context of input, interaction, feedback and output. [See Vihman, Saxton and Peters, this volume for discussions of the role of attention in first language acquisition: SFC.]
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Second language learning theories
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Copyright (c) 2003 Eileen N. Ariza, Sandra Hancock



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