Showing posts with label SLA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SLA. Show all posts

Friday, May 4, 2018

Schumann’s Acculturation Theory. What are the components of the social and psychological distances? How are these elements related with naturalistic or untutored second language acquisition?

Schumann’s Acculturation Theory as presented in The Pidginization Process: A Model for Second Language Acquisition (1978) predicts that the degree of a learner’s success in second language (L2) acquisition depends upon the learner’s degree of acculturation.The social and psychological factors influence the acculturation process and the second language learning.According to Schumman the naturalistic or untutored SLA is a by-product of acculturation, which is defined by him as "the social and psychological integration of the learner with the target language (TL) group."

To Schuman ,the social distance consists of eight factors,which greatly hamper in the successful learning of SLA. The eight components of the social distance are discussed below.

Social dominance. The social dominanace considers the degree of equality (subordination or domination) between the host and guest cultures. If the second-language learning (2LL) group is politically, culturally, technically or economically dominant to or subordinate to the target language (TL) group, social contact between the two groups will tend not to be sufficient for optimal target language acquisition. If they are nearly equal in status, then there will be more contact between the two groups and thus, acquisition of the target language will be enhanced.

Integration pattern or  Assimilation, preservation, and adaptation: The best condition for L2 acquisition is obtained when the 2LL group wants to assimilate into the TL group. The second best condition occurs when the 2LL group wants to adapt to the TL culture for intragroup interaction without assimilating to it. The least favorable conditions obtain for acquiring the L2 when the 2LL group wishes to remain separated linguistically and culturally from the TL group.

Enclosure: The more the 2LL groups share social institutions such as schools, churches, workplaces, clubs, and others with the TL group, the more favorable the conditions will be for L2 acquisition. 
Cohesiveness: The guest community tends to stay as a cohesive group as seen in the avobe example. But the smaller and less cohesive the 2LL group, the more likely the contact with the TL group and the more favorable the conditions for L2 acquisition.

Size:  If the size of the learner’s group is large ,it tends to facilitate intragroup contact rather than inter-group contact. 

Congruence: The more similar the culture of the two groups, the more likely there will be social contact and thus language acquisition.

Attitude: The more positive the views of the 2LL group toward the TL group, the more favorable will be the conditions for L2.

Intended length of residence: The longer L2 learners plan to remain in the L2 environment, the more likely it is that they will feel the necessity of learning the TL.

Thus, the great social distance between the host community and the target language speakers and culture deeply affects their acculturation, and hence their second language acquisition.

How social distance hampers SLA is also seen from the famous research on Alberto,on which Schumman’s theory is based.

In the fall of 1973 a research project was undertaken to make a ten month longitudinal study of the untutored acquisition of English by six native speakers of Spanish-two children, two adolescents and two adults. Data collection involved the recording of both spontaneous and experimentally elicited speech.

The study on a 33 year old Costa Rican named Alberto evidenced very little linguistic development during the course of the project. It was felt that by attempting to account for his lack of learning, significant insight could be gained about what is involved in successful second language acquisition in general. Alberto spoke a reduced and simplified form of English in which the negative particle was held external to the verb, questions were uninverted, inflectional morphemes tended to be absent and auxiliary development was minimal. Three causes for his lack of development were considered: ability, social and psychological distance from English speakers, and age.

Psychological distance

The four affective variables included in Schumann's acculturation model are: 1) language shock, or the degree to which speaking the new language makes the learner feel foolish or comical; 2) culture shock, the extent to which the learner feels disoriented and uncomfortable with extended residence in a new culture; 3) ego permeability, the ability of the learner to accept a new identity associated with the belonging to a new speech community, and 4) motivation, the degree and type of desire experienced by the learner to acquire the L2. Of these, only motivation seemed particularly applicable to the situation involved in this research and therefore it will be the only one included in the data collection. In Schumann's model high levels of motivation, both integrative and instrumental contribute positively to second language acquisition.

Schumann  claims that acculturation, or the integration of the L2 learner into the target linguistic community, is not a direct cause of second language acquisition (SLA), but rather it is the first in a chain of factors which results in natural SLA. He proposes that "acculturation as a remote cause brings the learner into contact with TL-speakers and verbal interaction with those speakers as a proximate cause brings about the negotiation of appropriate input which then operates as the immediate cause of language acquisition"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Language Acquisition: A Habit Formation or Role Formation?

Habit Formation

Habit is a pattern of behaviour that is regular and which has become almost automatic as a result of repetition. Linguists and psychologists disagree about how much habit formation is involved in language learning. The behaviourists hold that language acquisition is a product of habit formation. Habits are constructed through the repeated association between some stimulus and some response. Second language learning, then, is viewed as a process of overcoming the habits of the native language in order to acquire the new habits of the target language. This is to be accomplished through the pedagogical practices of dialogue memorization and pattern practice. Over learning and thus automatically is the goal. The contrastive analysis hypothesis is important to this view of language learning.

Role Formation-

Chomsky posits a theory in which he claims that everybody learns a language not because they are subject to the same conditioning process but because they possess an inborn capacity which permits then to induce the rules of the intended language as a normal maturational process. Once acquired, these rules will allow learners to create and comprehend novel utterances, utterances they neither have understood nor have produced if they are limited to imitating input from the environment. Thus the rational for Chomsky’s theory of language acquisition as a process of role formation lies in what known as “the poverty of the stimulus(input).”

To justify Chomosky’s theory of language acquisition we will take the following two errors into account committed by children acquiring English as their L1.

  1. She doesn’t wants to go.
  2. I eated it.

These wrong sentences suggest that these children have internalized rules for sub-verb agreement and past tense formation in English respectively but have not yet mastered the limitations of the rules. Thus such original errors indicate that the children are not simply repeating forms from the input they encountered.

Again in relation to SLA, SL learners are found to commit similar “developmental” errors which are not apparently due to L1 interference.

Thus the process of SLA is also thought to be one rule formation, in which rules are inculcated through a process of hypothesis formation and testing. If the learner traces any mismatch between his own language production and the forms/ functions of the target language to which he/ she is being exposed, he/ she will modify his/ her hypothesis about the nature of the TL rules so that his/ her utterances increasingly conformed to the TL.

Fossilisation in SLA


In the process of L2 acquisition, IL continually evolves into an ever-closer approximation of the TL, and ideally, a learner’s IL should continue to advance gradually until it becomes equivalent, or nearly equivalent, to the TL. However, it has been observed that somewhere in the L2 learning process, such an IL may reach one or more temporary restricting phases during which the development of the IL appears to be detained (Nemser, 1971; Selinker, 1972; Schumann, 1975). A permanent cessation of progress toward the TL has been referred to as fossilization.

Fossilization includes such items as pronunciation, vocabulary usages, and grammatical rules. It has also been noticed that adult L2 learners’ IL systems, in particular, have a tendency, or propensity, to become stagnated or solidified i.e., the language learners make no further progress in IL development toward the TL, and become permanently fossilized, in spite of the amount of exposure to the L2.

The concept of fossilization in SLA research is so intrinsically related to IL that Selinker (1972) considers it to be a fundamental phenomenon of all SLA.

Language Transfer and Language Interference in SLA

Language Transfer and Language Interference

Language transfer is the effect of one language on the learning of another. Two types of language transfer may occur. Negative transfer, also known as interference, is the use of a native-language pattern or rule which leads to an ERROR or inappropriate form in the TARGET LANGUAGE. For example, a French learner of English may produce the incorrect sentence I am here since Monday instead of I have been here since Monday, because of the transfer of the French pattern Je suis ici depuis lundi (“I am here since Monday”). Positive transfer is transfer which makes learning easier, and may occur when both the native language and the target language have the same form. For example, both French and English have the word table, which can have the same meaning in both languages.

Mistake and Error in SLA

Mistake and Error

Corder, in his 1967 paper has made a distinction between a “mistake” and an “error.” Error results from incomplete knowledge of a learner and a “mistake” is made by a learner when writing or speaking and which is caused by lack of attention, fatigue, carelessness, or some other aspects of performance.

In other words, a ‘mistake” is a random performance slip caused by fatigue, excitement etc and therefore can be readily self-corrected and an error, on the other hand, is a systematic deviation made by.