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Friday, March 1, 2013

Makalah SLA


1.      What is SLA?
L2 acquisition is the way in which people learn a language other than their mother tongue, inside or outside the classroom and ‘Second Language Acquisition’ (SLA) is the study of this.
2.      What are the goals of SLA?
The goal of SLA are describing of L2 acquisition and explaining the internal and external factors that account for why learners acquire an L2 in the way they do. The external factors are environment in which learning takes place and the input that the learners receive. Meanwhile, the internal factors are learners’ cognitive, learners’ background knowledge (L1), knowledge of the world, learners’ communicative strategies, learners’ knowledge of language, and learners’ language aptitude.
3.      Two case studies
A case study is a detailed study of a learner’s acquisition of an L2. In this chapter the writer took two case studies to describe and explain the process of L2 acquisition happened with adult learners learning English in the L2 native country and two children learning English in a classroom. The first case study is about Wes, a thirty-three years old artist and a native speakers of Japanese who learnt English because of the demand of his work. Richard Schmidt, the researcher, had investigated him for over a three year period. The focus of his research was to find out how Wes’s grammar knowledge of English grammar developed over the three years. The finding revealed that Wes could already use some of the features with native-like accuracy at the beginning of his study. However, he had not really acquired these. See the following Wes’s sentence while he used progressive –ing when it was not required:
“So yesterday I didn’t painting.
Another mistake made by Wes was he continued to omit –s from plural nouns, rarely, put –s on the third singular of verbs, and never used the regular past tense. Although he did not learn much grammar, he did developed in other ways. He was adept at identifying fixed phrases such as “What’s new?,” “Whaddaya want?”

The next case was the study of R and J who learnt English in a classroom context. R was an eleven-year-old boy from Pakistan and J was a ten year-old Portuguese boy. They had to learn English because they need it to prepare themselves for transfer to local secondary school. The focus of the study was how both learners acquired the ability to perform requests. The findings revealed that both learners are successful to perform simple requests even when they knew very little English. Their ability to perform developed over the period of study. Next point is many of their requests seemed formulaic in nature. The latest point is they progressively acquire the ability to perform request in the same way although they have different native languages. However, their ability also was limited in a number of respects compared to the way native speakers who usually perform request in more indirect requests.
These two case study, then, raise a number of methodological issues relating to how L2 acquisition should be studied, issues relating to the description of learners language, and issues relating to some of the problems faced by SLA researchers in attempting  to explain L2 acquisition. 
4.      Methodological issues
There are several things need to ponder related to methodological issues in SLA based on those case studies findings:
§  Language is a complex phenomenon so that researchers should focus on some specific aspect rather than on the whole of it.
§  Researchers should understand first what it means by acquiring a feature of target language.
§  Researchers should measure whether acquisition has taken place concerns learners’ overuse of linguistic form.
5.      Issues in the description of learner language
Based on both studies, there are some related issues respecting the description of learner language:
§  Learners make errors of different kinds.
§  Learners acquire a large number of language formulaic chunks, which they use to perform communicative functions that are important to them and which contribute to the fluency of their unplanned speech.
§  Learners acquire the L2 systematically and follow developmental routes.
6.      Issues in the explanation of L2 acquisition
Based on studies, there are some issues can be accounted related to the explanation of L2 acquisition:
§  L2 acquisition involves different kinds of learning.
§  The systematic nature of L2 acquisition emerges many possible explanations.


1.      Learning factors and learning conditions
In many ways, theories underlying SLA are closely related to those discussed for first language acquisition. Those theories can be divided into three categories:
1.      Theories which emphasize on the essential of environment in shaping language learning.
2.      Theories which focus on the importance of learners’ innate characteristics.
3.      Theories which integrate learners’ characteristics and environmental factors.
However, there are also some different things between acquiring first language (L1) and second language (L2) in terms of both learner characteristics and conditions for learning. In term of learners’ characteristics we have known that they already have acquired at least one language. It can give benefits for them since they know how languages work. On the contrary, it can be drawbacks because it leads learners to make error as a result of incorrect guesses about how the second language works. Furthermore, related to age, we can find differences between young and adult learners. See the following table:

Learners Characteristics
Knowledge of another language
It can be both help and cause error in learning L2
Cognitive maturity
It helps adult learner to understand L2 more than children because they  have not reach these level of areas in their ages.
Metalinguistic awereness
Knowledge of the world
Nervousness about speaking
Adult learners may find more stressful to use L2 than child.

Next, in terms of learning conditions there are also several factors that need to ponder. See the following table:
Learning Conditions
Freedom to be silent
Young learners are usually allowed to be silent until they are ready to speak. Older learners are often forced to speak.
Ample time
Young learners are usually exposed to the L2 many hours every day. While older learners are more likely to receive only limited exposure to the L2.
Corrective feedback: Grammar and pronunciations
It is tolerable and it seems impolite to interrupted and corrected someone who was trying to talk with them.
Corrective feedback: word choice
People will react to an error if they cannot understand what the speaker is tying to say.
Modified input
People who interact regularly with language learners, regardless the age, seem to modified their speech to make them understand.

2.      Behaviorism
Behaviourists account learning in term of imitatation, practice, reinforcement (feedback of success), and habit formation. Learners receive linguistic input from speakers in their environment and they form “associations” between words and objects or events. These associations become stronger as experiences repeated.
Behaviourism frequently linked to the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis  (CAH) that predicts where there are similarities between the first language and the target language, the learners will acquire target language structure easily; where they are differences, the learners will have difficulty.
3.      Innatism (Universal Grammar)
According to Chomsky’s theory, innate knowledge of the Universal Grammar (UG) permits all children to acquire the language of their environment, during the critical period in their development. Those who believe that UG has an important explanatory role in SLA have different opinion. Some argue UG must be available to second language learners as well as to first language learners and there is no different nature and availability of UG for both learners.
4.      Krashen’s monitor model
Krashen’s theory of SLA is one of innatist theory which has great influence on the L2 language teaching practice.
§  The acquisition-learning hypothesis
There are two ways for adult L2 learners to develop knowledge of a L2: acquisition and learning. We acquire as we are exposed to samples of the L2 which we understand. Meanwhile, we learn via a process of study and attention to form and rule learning.
§  The monitor hypothesis
We have learned system which acts only as an editor or monitor, making minor changes and polishing what the acquired system has produced.
§  The natural order hypothesis
L2 learners acquire the features of the target language in predictable sequences.
§  The input hypothesis
Both comprehension and acquisition occurs when the input contains forms and structures just beyond the learners’ current level in the language (i+1).
§  The effective filter hypothesis
The affective filter is an imaginary barrier which prevents learners from acquiring language from the available input. It refers to such things as motives, needs, attitudes, and emotional states. The higher the filter is, the lower the rate of acquisition and vise versa.

5.      Recent psychological theories
a.      Information processing
Cognitive psychologists develop their theory based on information model of human learning and performance. They believe that second language acquisition develop gradually. It is a building up knowledge system that can eventually be called on automatically for speaking and understanding. Human has a limit of attention to the amount of information at one time. Through experience and practice learners gradually become able to use certain part of their knowledge so quickly and automatically. They argue that practice is not seen as something mechanical but it involves effort on the part of learner.
They have different view of learning and acquisition as proposed by Krashen. According to Schmidit, everything we come to know about the language was first noticed consciously. Learning and acquisition is the same things. They also theorize that there are changes in skill and knowledge which are due to restructuring. It is a process in which knowledge we already have interact with our existing system. The transformation has possibly two side effects. It make the learners having speed progress or producing error.
b.      Connectionism
Connectionists give greater emphasize on the environment than to any innate knowledge in the learners. They think that what is innate is the ability to learn, not any specifically linguistics structure.
Learners gradually develop their language ability through exposure to thousands of examples of the linguistics features as the input to learn. According to them, the input is the principle source of linguistics knowledge not only as a trigger as said by innatists. After hearing language features in specific situational or linguistic contexts over and over again, learners develop stronger and stronger mental or neurological connections between these elements.
6.      The Interactionist position
Interactionists argue that much second language acquisition takes place through conversational interaction. According to Micheal Long, what the learners of L2 need is an opportunity to interact with other speakers. Long list the relationship between modified interaction and the learners language acquisition as follows:
·         Interactional modification makes input comprehensible
·         Comprehensible input promotes acquisition. Therefore,
·         Interactional modification promotes acquisition
Modified interaction does not always in form of linguistics simplification. It can be elaboration, slower speech rate, gesture, or the provision of additional context clues. Some examples of these conversational modifications are comprehension checks, clarification requests, and self-repetition or paraphrase. 
Another perspective is proposed by Vygotsky.  Based on his sociocultural theory of human mental processing, language development is a result of social interaction between individuals. Second language learners advance to higher levels of linguistic knowledge when they collaborate or interact with more knowledgeable interlocutor than they are, for example a teacher. He believes that learners has zone of proximal development (ZPD), that is the level of performance which a learner is capable of when there is support from interaction with a more advanced interlocutor.

Ellis, Rod. 1997. Second Language Acquisition. New York: Oxford University Press
Lightbown, Patsy M and Spada, Nina. 2001. How Language are Learned. New York: Oxford University Press.

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