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eBook Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction (Second Language Acquisition Research Series) download

by Bill VanPatten

eBook Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction (Second Language Acquisition Research Series) download ISBN: 0805857389
Author: Bill VanPatten
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (September 28, 2006)
Language: English
Pages: 272
ePub: 1164 kb
Fb2: 1681 kb
Rating: 4.9
Other formats: mbr azw rtf txt
Category: Reference
Subcategory: Words Language and Grammar

For several decades, the field of SLA has struggled with the nature of theories, what they are, and what would be an acceptable theory of SLA.

Paperback: 272 pages. VanPatten and Williams kick off helpfully by disentangling some oft-confused or misunderstood terms: theory (explains and predicts phenomena); model (describes phenomena); hypothesis (makes a prediction based on a theory); and construct (the key features or mechanisms of a theory).

I think this book is fantastic for beginners. It was written in a way that is easy for budding linguists to understand. I read most of it over the span of two weeks for my class, and I felt very prepared for my test.

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All of them nonetheless presuppose that adult SLA is distinct in that its initial state is constitutive of a completed grammatical system.

Theories in Second Language Acquisition surveys the major theoretical approaches currently used in second language acquisition (SLA) research, providing a systematic and coherent presentation in a single source. Each chapter follows a consistent chapter model constructed around the same set of questions, including "What is the Theory?" "What are the major constructs?" "What counts as evidence?" "What are the common misunderstandings about the theory?" The answers to these questions are written at a basic level by a leading expert in the respective theoretical model. As a result, the volume as a whole presents complex ideas in an accessible manner.The book’s methodical format allows for easy comparison of approaches. Topics of discussion throughout include:*early theories in SLA;*linguistic theory, universal grammar, and SLA;*the concept-oriented approach;*the associative-cognitive creed;*skill acquisition theory; and*processibility theory and autonomous induction.Intended to serve as an introductory textbook for advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students, Theories in Second Language Acquisition is an exceptionally thorough resource that effectively expounds the theoretical foundations of the field.
Comments: (7)
If you want to get an overview of several mainstream theories in second language acquisition, this isn't a bad place to begin. VanPatten and Williams kick off helpfully by disentangling some oft-confused or misunderstood terms: theory (explains and predicts phenomena); model (describes phenomena); hypothesis (makes a prediction based on a theory); and construct (the key features or mechanisms of a theory). They also enumerate features of language learning that we know about, that must be explained by a theory of language learning, such as the apparently incidental nature of much language learning, and how learners come to know more than could be predicted by the input to which they have been exposed.

What follows is an explication of each of several theories, by a chief proponent of that theory. Examples include the availability of Universal Grammar in second language acquisition (Lydia White), a connectionist model with the bizarre name of The Associative-Cognitive CREED (Nick Ellis), and input processing theory (Bill VanPatten). The theory best known to language teachers (indirectly though, by means of task-based teaching methodology) is the input - interaction - output model described here by Susan Gass and Alison Mackey. Teachers may also be able to relate skill acquisition theory (Robert DeKeyser) to the progress (or lack of progress) they see in their students as they pass from declarative knowledge, through procedural knowledge, and finally to automatization. This theory was enacted in the presentation-practice-production (PPP) method, though as DeKeyser points out, the road to automatization can be an awfully long one, and it is unlikely to be achieved in a single lesson. It might help to explain why many learners seem to reach a plateau when they get to an intermediate level of proficiency.

Readers of this book are exposed, then, to descriptions of theories by those who have developed and advocated them. This may be an advantage over a single author giving second-hand accounts of each theory, but it does have its disadvantages, too. The readability of the chapters varies hugely, in spite of VanPatten and Williams' attempt to create a book that is accessible for those new to the subject matter. VanPatten's own chapter is straightforward enough, but White's is a challenge without prior knowledge of Chomsykan linguistic theory. Another concern is that the theories are not subject to any kind of critique, and there is no real opportunity for the theories to 'dialogue' with each other across the chapters. Each is presented unproblematically by its advocate. Finally, there is little questioning of the SLA paradigm itself, which treats second language acquisition from a monolingual perspective and treats acquisition as the addition of a separate language system as opposed to a compounding process or the development of multicompetence in the learner. These concerns have been raised by Vivian Cook and echoed by others, but receive little mention here except briefly by Lourdes Ortega in her final summation, where she notes that it is an area that will attract future attention.

A greater concern for the field is what to make of this variety of theories that in many ways directly contradict each other. VanPatten and Williams evoke the blind men and the elephant story, which is fine for explaining how different theories might explain different aspects of SLA. This is the case for VanPatten's chapter, for example, which seeks only to explain how input is processed. But it is an inadequate analogy for making sense of the outright contradictions among the theories presented here, among them:

- a specialized module for language learning vs. general learning ability as an explanation for how languages are learned;
- output as irrelevant to language learning vs. output as essential;
- language learning not requiring conscious attention vs. requiring conscious attention;
- language learning as incidental vs. language learning requiring explicit instruction.

The theories tend to come down on one side or the other of each of these dichotomies, and as such they may be irreconcilable. What this book doesn't do is to show a way out of these contradictions.

Still, it is overall a helpful introductory text. Just don't expect the grand theory yet.
A good overview of the current body of research.
sunrise bird
Good quality!
Everyone who works or interested in the field of teaching languages. It summarizes almost all the current theories about teaching a second language.
Bought this book for class. It is a comprehensive review of theories in SLA. Some of the theories use very technical vocabulary but I think it's an overall easy to read book.
The book is great and I received it fast. I would defenitely buy from this seller again.
This text provides a reasonable overview of the major current theories of second language acquisition. Each chapter is laid out in the same manner, addresses a core set of questions and provides information for further reading. This structure helps tremendously because each chapter is authored by different authors, and that can sometimes lead to disjointed text. It's not as in-depth as some texts, but it covers a broad range of theories in a cogent fashion. It provides enough information for beginners in the field to be able to make sense out of the research.

The major drawbacks are that it is overly heavy on psycholinguistically oriented theories and it provides no data for analysis. Thus, it works best if paired with another text that can provide these alternatives.
Unfortunately, this book is one of the most poorly written books to which I have been exposed at the university level. Explanations are verbose and convoluted, there are errors in simple editing, and the book is an overall frustration. I have to believe there are texts available that provide for a clear and concise overview of the theories of second language acquisition.