Second Language Acquisition (SLA)

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The weekly class meeting hour for this course is

10:10-11:50 Wednesday.

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November 18

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This course description contains the information essential for the success of this course.

Two handbooks have so far been published on SLA, both of which centered around some key issues in the field. All the articles were contributed by the leading figures in the field. You can download the handbook of second language acquisition HERE.

Topic 1: Second Language Acquisition: Defining the Field

In this session, we are going to have an overiew of Second Language acquisition: its historical development, key issues, basic approaches and current thinkings. You are expected to develop a global understanding of this discipline by the end of this session.

You can download the lecture presentation HERE.
Assignment for this week:

Read the introductions chapters in Ellis (1984, 1995); Larsen-Freeman & Long (2000); Gass and Selinker (2001). You are also recommended to read Ritchie & Bhatia "Second Language Acquisition: Introduction, Foundations and Overview", in Ritchie and Bhatia (eds) 1996 Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. San Diego: Academic Press.

This article addresses the issue of the role played by SLA and its relationship to some neighbouring disciplines. Please read it and get ready to discuss it before the next class meeting hours (Sept. 20, Wednesday) . You are also required to read
Patsy M. Lightbown (2000) "Classroom SLA research and second language teaching" Applied Linguistics, Vol. 21(4). pp431-462

Topic 2: Contrastive Analysis, Error Analysis and Interlanguage

In this unit, we will trace the early development of second language acquisition theories. Some of the basic tenets and approaches adopted by the early studies are still influential today, though in different guises.

Please download the lecture presentation here. You are also required to read Larry Selinker's monumental paper interlanguage.

Topic 3: SLA Research Methods

Research is a systematic approach to finding answers to questions. Being systematic precludes generalities drawn from speculation and anedotal reports. In this session, we will first give a general review of different areas of SLA studies in relation with methodological concerns; and we will discuss in considerable details how to collect and analyse data in a way that "a systematic approach" to SLA requires. You can download the PPT version of the lecture HERE.

Reading the following chapters might be helpful before you attend the lecture:

1. Larsen-Freeman, D. & Long, M. 1991. Chapter 2 & 3
2. Nunan, D. 1995. Issues in Second Language Acquisition Research: Examining Substance and Procedure. In Ritchie and Bhatia's SLA Handbook.
3. Gass, S. & Selinker, 2001. Chapter 2

You are required to read three review papers on SLA studies in China.

文秋芳 王立非 二语习得研究方法35 年:回顾与思考
吴旭东 张文忠 "我国外语教学实验研究质量调查"
戴炜栋 周大军 “中国的二语习得研究:回顾、现状与前瞻”

Assignment I:

Please write a critical review on an empirical SLA study published in Foreign Language Teaching and Research Journal,based on the criteria proposed in this paper.

Topic Four The Role of L1 and Previously Acquired Languages

One of the central themes in SLA research is the role played by previously acquired language, L1 in particular. In this session, we will examine the role of L1 in second language acquisition, from a broad spectrum of theoretical perspectives.

You can download the lecture presentation for this topic HERE

Topic Five Input, Interaction and Output


There is no doubt that input plays a crucial role in second language acquisition. However, how much, and what type of input is facilitative to L2 learning process remains a question worthy of further exploration. More recently, there has also been theories claiming that the meaningful interactions, and possibly comprehensible output also contribute to acquisition of L2 linguistic items. 

IIn this session we are going to review and discuss the important theories about input, interaction and output in L2 acquisition studies.  
 You can download the lectuer presentation for this topic HERE.

Topic Six Cognitive Approaches to SLA

In this section, we are going to review and discuss some leading cognitive accounts of SLA processes, like the Competitioin Model, Information Processing Theory, Input Processing Model and connectionism.   

Please download the course presentation for this session HERE.  Please download the materials for class discussion HERE. 

Topic Seven The Lexicon and lexical acquisition

Vocabulary building turns out to be one of the biggest difficulties that all L2 learners are encountered with. In this session, we are going to review some important theories of lexical acquisition. More importantly, we are going to introduce Michael Lewis' Lexical Appoach to language teaching. 

You can download the lecture presentation HERE. 

Topic Eight Individual Differences in SLA

In this session, we are going to discuss the individual differences in SLA, including such factors as age, aptitude, motivation, learning style, learning strategies, etc. 

 You can download the lecture presentation HERE.