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SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION THEORIES & PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR TEYL

20141116

SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION THEORIES & PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR TEYL

ASSIGNMENT 2: QUESTION: Discuss the generally accepted categorization of SLA theories, and select ONE (1) SLA theory for the following tasks: a) Identify the major issues of concern and how they are dealt with within the framework of the theory. b) Explain why this theory is the best framework to guide you in your future role as a TEYL teacher? Support your stand with appropriate theoretical arguments and empirical examples. INTRODUCTION The study of language acquisition has caused many theories to be created for the past three decades. The theories are formed to explain the events that take place when the process of language acquisition occurs. Since there are many events that occur, how do we classify all the theories in second language acquisition? According to McLaughlin (1987), the theories of second language acquisition can be classified according to different criteria. According to their form theories can be classified along a continuum with ‘deductive’ on one end and ‘inductive’ on the other. Theories following the deductive approach contain concepts and constructs that are assumed to be true without proof. These are the axioms of the theory. Laws of logic are applied on these axioms to obtain the ‘hypotheses’ of the theory. If these hypotheses are empirically supported then they become the laws and facts of the theory He also added that unlike the deductive approach, the inductive approach does not begin with axioms. Instead it is empirically based. Theoretical statements are formulated after a significant amount of empirical relationships have been established. Theories that follow the inductive approach formulate hypotheses based on certain empirical facts. SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION THEORIES Before further discussion, I would like to explain briefly the five most significant second language acquisition theories. I feel that these five theories are the most significant theories and the theories are Contrastive Analysis Theory, Monitor Model, Universal Grammar, Error Analysis as well as Interlanguage. Contrastive Analysis is one of the earliest second language acquisition theories. This theory suggests that by studying the points of similarity and dissimilarity between languages, it would facilitate the acquisition of second language. Therefore, native language of L1 is seen to play a major role in second language acquisition. In Contrastive Analysis, by contrasting linguistic differences among two languages, it would be easier to see the comparison between the two languages. In fact, Dr. David Towey (2008) from University of Hong Kong stated that Contrastive Analysis helps to improve teaching as well as predict areas of difficulty for the learner based on the error that the students made. However, a question that was raised is does all the errors occur? The second theory that I have chosen is Monitor Model Theory proposed by Stephen Krashen. In this Monitor Model Theory, there are five hypotheses that are formed to explain the second language acquisition that takes place. The five hypotheses are The Acquisition-Learning Hypotheses, The Natural Order Hypotheses, The Monitor Hypotheses, The Input Hypotheses as well The Affective Filter Hypotheses. The third theory is Universal Grammar or better known as UG. This theory is based on Chomsky’s view. He viewed that the ability to learn language is innate which means every human is born with the capability of learning language. Chomsky also believed that very human is born with Language Acquisition Device (LAD) and input plays the role of activating the device. Error Analysis is another significant theory in second language acquisition. This theory exists due to the change of perspective where the theorists feel that instead of looking at languages and trying to predict errors, it is much better to analyze the errors that occur. This is stated by Stephen Pit Corder (1967) who said that: “A learner's errors, then, provide evidence of the system of the language that he is using (i.e. has learned) at a particular point in the course (and it must be repeated that he is using some system, although it is not yet the right system).” In Error Analysis Theory there are few steps in identifying errors. The steps are data collection, error identification, error classification, error quantification, determining the source or cause of error as well as designing materials to address the source or cause of the errors. Other than that, Error Analysis Theory aims to distinguish mistake and error. This is because learner often perceives mistake and error as the same concept where in actual fact, they are not similar. Mistake shows one’s performance towards the language but errors show one’s competence of the language. The last theory that I am going to briefly explain is Interlanguage Theory. The term “interlanguage” was first coined by Larry Selinker in 1969. According to Wikipedia.com, interlanguage is defined as an emerging linguistic system that has been developed by a learner of a second language who has not become fully proficient yet but only approximating the target language. Selinker sees interlanguage system as a result of five cognitive processes which are overgeneralization, transfer of training, strategies of second language learning, strategies of second language communication as well as language transfer. THE ISSUES OF INTERLANGUAGE THEORY After a few series of readings and discussion as well as consideration, I have decided to choose Interlanguage Theory as the main theory of discussion. This is because I feel that the issues raised in this theory are very interesting and they are closely related to my role as a future English teacher. One of the major issues that I would like to highlight here is the conceptual basis of interlanguage. Ellis (1985) proposes two conceptual basis of this theory. The first conceptual basis is L2 learner interlanguage is permeable. The word “permeable” according to WordWeb.com means “able to pass through or penetrated”. In the context of interlanguage, the learner’s knowledge of linguistics’ rules is not fixed and due to that, it is permeable. Therefore, the learner’s knowledge is opened for amendment. For example, in the case of eleven year old Portueguese boy who is the process in learning English Language. The boy uttered the sentence, “No look my card.” However, after a few minutes of correction, the Portuguese boy was able to utter the correct negation sentence that is, “Don’t look my card”. The second conceptual basis of interlanguage theory is L2 learner interlanguage is transitional. This is because the L2 interlanguage is going through a process of constant change due to the receiving of new input. Even though the L2 learner interlanguage is constantly changing, it does not jump from one stage of another. In fact, this is agreed by Tarone (1983) who specifically distinguished the stages in interlanguage continuum. This interlanguage continuum can be seen as the followings: In this interlanguage continuum, the learner goes through all these stages before achieving the second language competency. In vernacular style stage, this is the first stage where the learner has just begun learning or acquiring his or her second language. Due to that, this stage is known as an unattended speech stage where the knowledge of the second language is limited and this cause a great hindrance to the learner to produce the language effectively. As for the style two, this is the stage where the learner has already began to produce the language carefully but has not yet achieved the competence level of the language. This stage is also known as an attended speech stage. For style three, style four and style n, these three stages is where the learner goes through various elicitation tasks in the process of achieving the language competency. For example, the learner would learn about imitation, sentence combining or many other rules in the second language that he or she tries to acquire. As for the style n, it signifies the stages that the learner would have to go through before achieving the careful style stage. The careful style stage is a stage where the learner is able to make grammatical judgments before producing the language that he or she has acquired. The second issue that I would like to discuss here is how interlanguage system is created or more accurately to say here is how the learner creates his or her own interlanguage system. According to Selinker, there are a number of basic processes that take place in creating the interlanguage system. However, in his later work, Selinker insists upon learning strategies that the learner adopts in order to help him or her in acquiring the second language. The first learning strategy is language transfer. According to Wikipedia.com, language transfer refers to speakers or writers applying knowledge from their native language to a second language. Other terms for language transfer is L1 interference, linguistic interference as well as cross meaning. Language transfer is divided into two which are positive transfer and negative transfer. However, a great focus is given to negative transfer because it is seen as the most important element in acquiring second language. It is said that, the more similar the native language and the second language, the more language transfer will occur. The second way of how learner creates his or her own interlanguage system is by overgeneralization. This is the process where the learner would try to use the second language rules in a way that is never been used by the native speaker. For example, “What does she doing now” instead of “What is she doing now?”. The last way of how a learner creates his or her interlanguage system is through simplification. This is agreed by Corder (1981) who suggests that language learner starts with some simple grammar which is the simplification of L2 knowledge. By having this process, the learner would be able to acquire the language bit by bit. This is because some learner could not digest the input given to them. Therefore, by having simplification in their early stage of acquiring the second language, it will gradually enhance their understanding over certain linguistic knowledge. The last issue that I would like discuss here is interlanguage fossilization. According to Selinker (1972), interlanguage fossilization is a permanent cessation of progress toward the target language. He also adds that: "Fossilizable linguistic phenomena are linguistic items, rules, and subsystems which speakers of a particular native language will tend to keep in their interlanguage relative to a particular target language, no matter what the age of the learner or amount of explanation and instruction he receives in the target language." Interlanguage fossilization has been widely discussed all over the world. Many researchers have attempted to explain this issue and ways to overcome it. A learner would never become a competent second language user if fossilization is not overcome. MY ROLE AS A FUTURE TEYL TEACHER In less than two years, by God’s will, I would graduate from this course and become a TEYL teacher. I would be teaching English Language to a bunch of kids in primary school where I would be posted. Interlanguage Theory is one of the theories that has a great impact on me. I feel that this theory as an early exposure for me to understand the language acquisition process that takes place in an individual especially my students in the near future. For the first issue that I have mentioned, I feel that it would be easy for me to help my students in their language learning process if I take the right approach. Furthermore, since I would be teaching young learners, it would be a great challenge for me. However, I believed that young learners are able to acquire second language easily. This view that young learners are able to acquire language easily is based on the Critical Period Hypothesis which was first proposed by Montreal neurologists, Wilder Penfield and Lamar Roberts in 1959. This hypothesis later was popularized by Eric Lenneberg in 1967. Lenneberg stated that the difficulty to acquire language is due to the brain lateralisation at puberty as the mechanism closes down the brain's ability to acquire language. As I have mentioned before, if I take the right approach in teaching my students, they would be able to learn the language easily. Since the first issue is regarding of the learner’s permeability and transition, I feel the right approach of teaching should be carefully selected. One of the teaching approaches suggested to me is based on the Ausubel Learning Theory. Ausubel Learning Theory is developed by David Ausubel in 1963. Ausabel is credited with the learning theory of advanced organizers. This theory is easily applicable to second language acquisition and due to that, I have decided to discuss upon this learning theory. Ausabel along with other scientists has worked hard in order to develop the system that later would help learners to achieve the learning outcomes. What really attracted me to use this learning theory with my students in the future is because Ausubel believes that meaningful learning is crucial for classroom instruction. According to Ausubel, meaningful learning entails new knowledge that relates to what one already knows and that can easily retained and applied. I agree with this statement because meaningful learning would help the learner to internalize the input that they received from the teacher. In my classroom later on, I would use pictures, titles of stories, reviews of previously learned concepts or short video segments and organize it so that my students would not be confused and they could understand what I teach bit by bit. This method is based on the advanced organizer concept proposed by Ausubel. As for the second issue that I have mentioned, I feel that there should be a close monitoring towards the learner’s interlanguage system. This is because I feel that if I know how the learner’s interlanguage is constructed or how it is produced, it would be easier for me to tackle the problem. Furthermore, the knowledge of interlanguage continuum that I have previously mentioned would be a great help in determining the level of my students. Therefore, this would be a great opportunity for me to see the learner in different perspective. Fossilization is the last issue that I have mentioned. As a future TEYL teacher, I feel that I would also face this problem myself and also it would happen to my students. Based on my readings, usually the students would be facing the difficulty in producing grammatically correct sentences especially in the case of tenses. For example, the use of present perfect tense as opposed to the past simple. a) Serena has been to Milan last year. b) I have read the book yesterday. The students tend to forget that the word “last year” and “yesterday” signify that the actions above have already taken place and the correct sentences are: a) Serena had been to Milan last year. b) I read the book yesterday. This is one example of the phenomena of fossilization in interlanguage. There are actually many other errors that were produced by the learner in learning second language. One way that I could take in order to solve this problem is by giving the students more exercises in tenses. This would make them aware of the errors that they produced. Furthermore, it would help them to overcome the problem. The issue of fossilization has been widely discussed and it actually depends on me as English Language teacher to overcome this problem. CONCLUSION The process of second language acquisition is a process that could not be explained by a single theory. However, in the context of English teacher teaching in Malaysian setting, I feel that interlanguage has raised many issues that are closely related to the teaching and learning of English Language in a classroom. However, it is our responsibility as teachers to help our students later in the future. Through hard work and dedication toward our profession, we would be able to produce competent English Language users. BIBLIOGRAPHY Ellis, R. (1985). Understanding Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Corder, S. (1981). Error Analysis and Interlanguage. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McLaughlin, B. (1987). Theories of Second Language Learning. London: Edward Arnold. Tarone, E. (1983). On The Variability of Interlanguage Systems. Great Britain: Briton Publisher. Stephen Pit Corder (1967). The Significance of Learners‘ Errors. International Review of Applied Linguistics 5. Selinker, L. (1972). Interlanguage. International Review of Applied Linguistic. Towey, D. (2008). Interlanguage. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong. Interlanguage Theory. Surf on 10 March 2009, from Wikipedia.com Ausubel Learning Theory. Surf on 10 March 2009, from tip.psychology.org/ausubel