The main aim of this chapter is to review theories in SLA that reflect the variety of perspectives evident in SLA studies, They are :1) The acculturation Model ( and closely with it, the nativization model). 2) Accomodation theory. 3) Discourse theory. 4) The monitor model. 5) The variable competence model. 6) The Universal hypothesis. 7) A neurofunctional theory.
The role of theory in SLA research is like what Hakuta (1981: 1) stated “the game of language acquisition research can be described as the search for an appropriate level of description for the learner's system of rules”. Other researchers have aim at more than just description, as Rutherford (1982:85) put it, “ We wish to know what it is that is acquired, how it is acquired and when it is acquired. But were we to have the answers even to these question, we would still want to know why ...”. Theory building is concerned with explanation as well as with description. But the term explanation is ambigous, Firstly, it can refer to the way in which the learners work in samples of the input data, converting them into intake, and using knowledge to produce output. Secondly, what motivates the learner to learn and what causes him to cease learning. Schumann (1976) distingushes explanation which refers to 'cognitive processes' responsible and 'initiating factors' responsible. Ellis (1984a) refers to the two types as ' assembly mechanisms' and 'power mechanisms'.
Long (1983e), drawing on the work of Reynolds (1971), distingushes two approaches to theory building; the theory-then-research approach and the research-then-theory approach. The theory-then-research approach involves five stages: 1) Develop an explicity theory. 2) Derive a testable prediction from theory. 3) Conduct research to test the prediction. 4) Modify the theory if the prediction is disconfirmed. 5) Test a new prediction if the first prediction is confirmed. The starting point of this approach is to invent a theory using a hunches and relevant research what Popper (1976) calls 'dogmatic thinking'. This theory has strength and weaknesses, it provides an approximate answer and a basis for systematically testing aspects of the overall theory. But researchers are not always prepared to abandon theory even in the face of substantial disconfirmatory evidence. The research-then-theory approach has four stages : 1) Select a phenomenon for investigation. 2) Measure its characteristics. 3) Collect data and look for systematic patterns. 4) Formalize significant patterns as rules describing natural event. The strenght and weak of this theory approach means that the researcher is less likely to be 'wrong' at any time and can provide valuable insight into selected aspects of the whole process being investigated.
SEVEN THEORIES OF SLA:
1.The Acculturation Model
Brown (1980) defined 'as the process of becoming adapted to a new culture'. In addition, an elaborated version of Schumann's model--the Nativization Model-- is discussed, with reference to Andersen (1980;1981;1983b) “... second language acquisition is just one aspect of acculturation and the degree to which a learner acculturates to the terget language group will control the degree to which he acquires the second language.(Schumann 1978:34)
Acculturation, and hence SLA determined by the degree of social and psycological distance between the learner and the language culture. Schumann (1978b) lists the various factors that determined them. The social variables govern whether the learning is 'good' or 'bad' . The psycological factors are effective in nature. They include 1) language shock 2) culture shock 3) motivation and 4) ego boudaries.
The Nativization Model
Andersen builds on Schumann's acculturation model, in particular by providing a cognitive dimension which Schumann does not consider. He, to a much greater extent, is concerned with learning processes. Andersen sees two general forces; nativization and denativization. Nativization consists of assimilation while denativization involves accomodation.
Evaluation; The acculturation and nativist models focus on the power mechanisms of SLA. They provide explanations of why L2 learners, unlike first language learners, often fail to achieve a native-like competence. The acculturation and nativization Models address naturalistic SLA, where the L2 learners has contact with the target language community.
Giles concerns to investigate how intergroup uses language reflect basic social and psycological attitudes in inter etnic communication. Giles agrees with Gardner(1979) that motivation is the primary determinant of L2 proviciency. This is governed by a number of key variables: 1) Identification of the individual learner with his ethnic in group. 2) Inter – ethnic comparison. 3) perception of ethno-linguistic vitality. 4) Perception of in group boundaries. 5) Identification with other ingroup social categories. Accomodation theory also accounts for learner's variable linguistic output. Giles et al.(1977) writes ...people are continually modifyng their speech with others so as to reduce or accentuate the linguistic(and hence) social differences between them depending on their perception of the interactive situation.
Evaluation; This theory does not explain assembly mechanisms nor account for the developmental sequence. The strenght of accomodation theory is that it encompasses language acquisition and language use within a single framework. This theory provides an explanation of language-learner language variability.
Halliday(1975) shows that the development of the formal linguistic devices for realizing basic language function grows out of the interpersonal uses to which language is put. As Cherry (1979: 122) puts it: Through communicating with other people, children accomplish actions in the world and develop the rules of language structure and use. This view of how the development takes place is called discourse theory. The main principles by Hatch(1978c;1978d)
are: 1) SLA follow a 'natural' route in syntatical development. 2) Native speaker adjust their speech in order to negotiate meaning with non-native speakers. 3) The conversational strategies used to negotiate meaning, and the resulting adjusted input, influence the rate and route of SLA in a number of ways, namely: a) the learner learns the grammar of the L2 in the same order as the frequency order of the various features in the input. b) the learner acquire commonly occuring formulas and then later analyses these into their component parts; c) learner is helped to construct sentences vertically; vertical structures are the percursors of horizontal structues. 4) Thus, the'natural' route is the result of learning how to hold conversations.
Evaluation; the basic question that second language acquisition research addresses is: how can we describe the process of second language acquisition. (Hatch 1980:177—my italic). He tries to provide an answer to his question by qualitative analyses of face-to-face interaction involving L2 learners. Hatch herself notes: We have not been able (nor have we tried) to show how, or if, making messages simpler or more transparent promotes language learning (1980 :181). Hatch is too aware of the huge leap that is made from 'low infernce descriptions' to 'high -inference explanation'. The discourse theory does not address the nature of the learner strategies responsible for SLA.
4.The monitor Model
The theory is seriuosly flawed in a number of respects, in particular in its treatment of language-learner variability. The model consists of five hypothesis; 1) the acquisition learning hypothesis. 2) the natural order hypothesis. 3) the monitor hypothesis. Krashen argues that monitoring has an extremely limited function in language performance, even where adult are concerned. He gives three conditions for its use; a) there must be sufficient time. b) the focus must be on form and not meaning and. c) the user must know the rule. 4) the input hypothesis, input that comprehensible to the learner will automatically be at the right level. 5) the affective filter hypothesis. It deals with how affective factors relate to SLA, and covers the ground of the Acculturation model. Causative variables taken into account in the Monitor Model. Krashen also discusses a number of other factors; a) aptitude. b) role of the first language c) routines and patterns. d) individual differences and e) age.
Evaluation; Three central issues for detailed consideration are the 'acquisition-learning' distinction, it has been called 'theological', it has been formulated in order to specific goal, namely that succesful SLA is the result of 'acquisition' (James 1980). the monitor, the only evidence for monitoring lies in the language user's own account of trying to apply explicit rules ( e.g Cohen and Robbins 1976) and Krashen's treatment of variability , Variability the monitor model is a'dual competence' theory of SLA. It proposes that the learner's knowledge of the L2, which is reflected in variable performance, is best characterized in terms of two separate competence, which Krashen labels'acquisition' and 'learning' .
5.The Variable Competence Model
The model is based on two distinctions—one of which refers to the process of language use and the product. The process of language use is to be understood in terms of the distnction between linguistic knowledge and the ability to make use of this knowledge. Widowson (1984) refers to a knowledge of rules as a competence and to a knowledge of the procedures involved in using rules to construct discourse as capacity. It follows from this view of the process of language use that the product, different types of discourse is the result of either or both of the variable competence and variable application of procedures for actualizing knowledge in discourse. Procedures for actualizing knowledge are of two types, which Ellis(1984a) refers to as primary and secondary processes each set of processes refered as dicourse and cognitive processes respectively. Discourse process: simplify the semantic structures of a masages by omitting meaning element that are communicatively redundant or that can be realized by a non verbal devices (e.g mime). Cognitive process: a). Construct an underlying conceptual structures of a massage b). Compare this structure with the frame of reference share with and interlecutor c). Eliminate redundant element and element for which know lexical item is available. To summarize this model, proposes: 1). There is a single knowdlege store containing variable interlanguage rules according how automatic and how analyzed the rules are. 2). The learner possesses a capacity for language uses which consist of primary and secondary discourse and cognitive processes. 3). L2 performance is variable as a result of whether primary processes employing unanalized L2 Rules are utilized in unplanned discourse or secondary process employing analized L2 rules are utilized in planed discourse. 4). Development occurs as a result of acquisition of new L2 rules through participation in various types of discourse and activation of L2 rules which initialy exist in either non automatic unanalized form or in an analized form so they can be used in unplaned dicourse.
Evaluation.: The variable competence model of SLA attemps to account for the availability of languages learners and the external and internal processes responsible for SLA.
6.The universal hypothesis
The universal hypothesis provides an interesting account of how the languages properties of the target language and the learner's first language may influence the course development. The value the universal hypothesis for SLA teory is twofold :1. it a focuses attention on the natural of the taget laguages it self. Wode's (980 b: 136/7) claims the linguistic devices used in a given languages are the major variable determining linguistic sequences 2. it provides a subtle and pesuasive reconsederation of transfer as an important factor in SLA.
7.A neurofucntional theory
Lamendella (1979:5/6) defines, A neurofucntional perspective on language attempts to characterize the neurolinguistic information processing systems responsible for the development and use of language. Hacth (1983a: 213) puts it, 'there is no single “black box” for language in the brain'. Therefore, it is better to speak of'the relative contribution of some areas more than others under certain condition'(Selinger 1982:309). Neurofucntional accounts of SLA have considered the contribution of The left hemisphere and The right hemisphere of the brain. Right hemisphere functioning is generally asscociated with holistic processing, it has been suggested (e.g by Obler 1981; Krashen 1981a) that the right hemisphere is responsible for the storing and processing of formulaic speech. The right hemisphere may also involved in pattern practice in classroom SLA. Selinger (1982) suggest that it may act as an initial staging mechanism for handling patterns which can then be re-examined later in left hemisphere functioning. Left hemisphere functioning, in general the left hemisphere is asscociated with the creative language use, including syntatic and semantic processing and the motor operations involved in speaking and writing. Walsh and Diller (1981) distinguish two board types of functioning, lower order functioning and higher order functioning.
Lamendella's Neurofucntional theory
Lamendella distnguishes two basic of types of language acquisition: (1) Primary language acquisition and (2) Secondary language acquisition. (1) is found I the child 's acquisition of one or more languages from 2 to 5 years. (2) is subdivided into a) foreign language learning b) second language acquisition. Lamendella pinpoints two systems as particularly important for language functioning; (1) The communication hierarchy: this has responsibility for language and other form of interpersonal communication. (2) The cognitive hierarchy: this control a variety of cognitive information processing activities that are also part of language use. Foreign language acquisition is marked by the use of the input and also affect the operation of learner strategies. Input comprises the inherent properties of the target language system and the formally and interactionally adjusted features found in foreigner and teacher talk.
Eleven hypothesis about SLA
Hypothesis 1 SLA follows a natural sequence of development, but there will be minor variation in the order of development and more major variations in the rate of development and in the level of proficiency achieved.
Hypothesis 2 At any one stage of development, the learner's interlanguage comprises a system of variable rules
Hypothesis 3 Situational factors are indirect determinant of the rate of SLA and also of the level of proviciency achieved , but they do not influence the sequence of development only in minor and temporary ways
Hypothesis 4 Situational factors are the primary causes of variability in language-learner language
Hypothesis 5 Input that is interactionally as a result of the negotiation of meaning in two-way discourse between the learner or speaker function as determinant of the sequence of development, the order of development and the rate of development
Hypothesis 6 Affective learner differences determine the rate of SLA and the level of proviciency achieved, but not the sequence
Hypothesis 7 The learner's first language influences the order of development, but it does not affect the sequence of development
Hypothesis 8 Interlanguage development occurs as a product of the learner's use of procedural knowledge to construct discourse
Hypothesis 9 Interlanguage development occurs as a product of the learner's universal grammar, which makes some rules easier to learn than others
Hypothesis 10 Language learner consists of formulaic speech and utterances constructed creatively
Hypothesis 11 Language learner language is variable, dynamic but also systematic