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Mind and Context in Adult Second Language Acquisition

Mind and Context in Adult Second Language Acquisition: Methods, Theory, and Practice

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Mind and Context in Adult Second Language Acquisition
    Book Description:

    How do people learn nonnative languages? Is there one part or function of our brains solely dedicated to language processing, or do we apply our general information-processing abilities when learning a new language? In this book, an interdisciplinary collaboration of scholars and researchers presents an overview of the latter approach to adult second language acquisition and brings together, for the first time, a comprehensive picture of the latest research on this subject. Clearly organized into four distinct but integrated parts, Mind and Context in Adult Second Language Acquisition first provides an introduction to information-processing approaches and the tools for students to understand the data. The next sections explain factors that affect language learning, both internal (attention and awareness, individual differences, and the neural bases of language acquisition) and external (input, interaction, and pedagogical interventions). It concludes by looking at two pedagogical applications: processing instruction and content based instruction. This important and timely volume is a must-read for students of language learning, second language acquisition, and linguists who want to better understand the information-processing approaches to learning a non-primary language. This book will also be of immense interest to language scholars, program directors, teachers, and administrators in both second language acquisition and cognitive psychology.

    eISBN: 978-1-58901-373-5
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xii)

    INFORMATION-PROCESSING APPROACHES to second language acquisition (SLA) attempt to explain how nonnative languages are learned—usually by adults—and how knowledge of such second languages is used. The perspective on language acquisition presented in this volume is multifactorial and interactionist: It takes into account external and internal variables and the multiple interactions among them. This approach has attracted the attention not only of researchers but also of practitioners, since the pedagogical implications of such a perspective are readily seen. The last ten years have seen a surge in the number of research articles and book chapters on the topic. A...


    • ONE Adult SLA: The Interaction between External and Internal Factors
      (pp. 3-20)

      Like their counterparts in the field of first language (L1) acquisition, scholars in the field of second language acquisition (SLA) need to explain both the nature of language and how it is acquired, that is, what is learned and how it is learned. Unlike researchers in the field of L1 acquisition, however, SLA researchers need to explain the enormous variation found both in the rate of acquisition and in the level of ultimate attainment that characterizes adult language learning. Their goal is to identify universals of adult SLA as well as to explain the role of individual differences (IDs) in...

    • TWO Research Methodology: Quantitative Approaches
      (pp. 21-68)

      A typical quantitative study includes quantification of constructs related to a research interest, data collection through experimental or nonexperimental designs, statistical data analysis, and presentation of findings related to research hypotheses. This chapter introduces commonly applied statistical procedures, with the logic of hypothesis testing as the major focus of the chapter. Hypothesis testing has traditionally been the main statistical tool used by practitioners and is still widely used by researchers in many areas, including second language acquisition (SLA).

      This chapter introduces statistical procedures typically covered in a one-semester introductory statistics course. It starts with an introduction of the basic concepts...

    • THREE Research Methodology: Qualitative Research
      (pp. 69-102)

      A wide range of empirical research approaches are used in second language acquisition (SLA), including those originating in the fields of linguistics, psychology, anthropology, and education. This range includes quantitative and qualitative approaches to research design, data collection procedures, and methods of data analysis. Although quantitative experimental approaches to research are arguably the dominant paradigm (Lazaraton, 2003; Chen, this volume, chapter 2), the value of employing qualitative methods in SLA studies is being increasingly recognized, particularly in second language (L2) classroom research (Lazaraton, 2000, 2003; Nunan, 1991; Pica, 1997). In the current chapter, we focus specifically on qualitative methods in...


    • FOUR Individual Differences: Age, Sex, Working Memory, and Prior Knowledge
      (pp. 105-140)

      While incomplete acquisition of a first language (L1) is rare and related to cases of severe language deprivation and concomitant problems in cognitive development, achieving nativelike proficiency in a second language (L2) seems to be the exception rather than the norm. Different explanations have been proposed for this significant difference between L1 and L2 acquisition and include type and frequency of input, access to Universal Grammar (or lack thereof), and differential use of general cognitive capacities. Whatever the reason for the difference, there is general agreement that individual differences (IDs) seem to have a greater effect on the acquisition of...

    • FIVE A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective on Second Language Acquisition: The Declarative/Procedural Model
      (pp. 141-178)

      The neural, cognitive, and computational (i.e., neurocognitive) bases of second language acquisition and processing are still not well understood. There has been surprisingly little empirical work in this area. Data informing the specific neural substrates of second language and the relations between its neural, cognitive, and computational underpinnings have been especially sparse (e.g., what brain structures play which computational roles and how do they interact?). Given this lack of data, it is not surprising that there have been few attempts to offer integrative neurocognitive theories of second language, particularly in the context of first language and of our broader understanding...

    • SIX Attention and Awareness in SLA
      (pp. 179-204)

      The 1990s witnessed several major theoretical approaches to the roles of attention and awareness in second or foreign language (L2) learning, mainly in the formal classroom setting (e.g., Robinson, 1995b; Schmidt, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2001; Tomlin and Villa, 1994). This chapter presents first a brief report of major models of attention in cognitive psychology, followed by a concise review of the important tenets of the major attentional frameworks in second language acquisition (SLA). We then discuss methodological issues associated with the operationalization and measurement of attention and awareness in SLA research methodology, followed by a brief report of several...


    • SEVEN Input and Interaction
      (pp. 207-233)

      The interaction hypothesis (Gass, 1997, 2003; Long, 1996; Pica, 1994) suggests that second language development is facilitated when learners interact with other speakers. In the most recent version of the hypothesis, Long (1996) states that “negotiation work that triggers interactional adjustments by the NS [native speaker] or more competent interlocutor facilitates acquisition because it connects input, internal learner capacities, particularly selective attention, and output in productive ways” (pp. 451–452). The major components of this hypothesis—input, feedback, and output—will be discussed in sections 1.1 through 1.3 below.

      Input refers to the linguistic forms to which learners are exposed....

    • EIGHT Explicitness in Pedagogical Interventions: Input, Practice, and Feedback
      (pp. 234-264)

      Do adults learn second languages through simple exposure as do children? Do innate or biological mechanisms for language acquisition become constrained with age? Is it possible for adults to reach nativelike accuracy and fluency without exposure to grammar explanation and overt, repeated error correction? Does providing adult learners with information about how the language works (i.e., metalinguistic information ) help them (a) by accelerating the process, (b) by enabling it to progress farther than it would in a naturalistic environment, or (c) by both? These are pertinent questions to researchers interested in language and cognition as well as to those...


    • NINE Processing Instruction
      (pp. 267-281)

      Ever since the publication of VanPatten and Cadierno (1993), the field of instructed second language acquisition (SLA) has witnessed increasing interest in what is now called processing instruction (PI). This interest has given rise to an active research agenda on PI and the generalizability of its effects (i.e., do the positive results generalize to all structures in languages?), the interaction of its components (i.e., to what extent do explicit information and feedback play significant roles in the outcomes?), and its long-term effects (e.g., Benati, 2001; Cadierno, 1995; Cheng, 2002; Collentine, 1998; Farley, 2001; Sanz and Morgan-Short, 2004; VanPatten and Oikkenon,...

    • TEN Content-Based Foreign Language Instruction
      (pp. 282-302)

      Within the present volume’s defining interest in theoretical and practical approaches to processing phenomena in instructed SLA, this chapter favors instructional practices as compared with research practices. With its focus on content-based instruction (CBI), it addresses an area that has at best been of tangential concern to second language acquisition (SLA) theorizing and practice precisely because CBI explicitly foregrounds content and not language form. Emphasizing the link between content and language demands an understanding of language that is just now gaining prominence in the field, that of language as a social and discursive phenomenon. Therefore, the challenge for CBI and...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 303-306)
  10. Index
    (pp. 307-332)