KEY ISSUES IN SLA Hartono, S.S., M.Pd. COLASULA SLA as a uniform phenomenon • SLA is not a uniform and predictable phenomenon. There is no single way in which learners acquire a knowledge of a second language (L2). SLA is the products of many factors pertaining to the learners and the learning situation. • Different learners in different situations learn L2 in different ways. SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION vs. FIRST LANGUAGE ACQUISITION SLA stands in contrast to first language acquisition. It is the study of how learners learn an additional language after they have acquired their mother tongue. The study of language-learner language began with the study of first language (L1) acquisition. COMPETENCE vs. PERFORMANCE • A distinction is often made between competence and performance (Chomsky, 1965). • Competence: the mental representation of linguistic rules which constitute the speakerhearer’s internalized grammar. • Performance: the comprehension and production of language. • Language acquisition studies are interested in how competence is developed. However, because competence is not open to direct inspection, it’s necessary to examine how the learner performs. ACQUISITION vs LEARNING • Acquisition is sometimes contrasted with learning on the assumption that these are different processes. • Acquisition: picking up a second language through exposure and it’s subconscious. • Learning: conscious study of a second language. • Ellis (1985): acquisition and learning are not a real distinction. THE ROLE OF THE FIRST LANGUAGE • There was a strong assumption that most of difficulties facing the L2 learner were imposed by his / her L1. • Differences between L1 & L2, the learner’s L1 knowledge would interfere with the L2. • Similarities between L1 & L2, the learner’s L1 knowledge aid L2 learning. • This process is called language transfer. • The study of these differences is called Contrastive Analysis. INDIVIDUAL LEARNER DIFFERENCES • Variability in language-learner language is the result not only if contextual factors. It also occurs because of individual differences in the way learners learn a L2 and the way they use their L2 knowledge. • No two learners learn L2 in exactly the same way. • Adults and children may learn L2 in different way both in route and rate. • Factors that may make learning differences: aptitude, motivation, age, cognitive style, personality, etc. THE ROLE OF INPUT • SLA takes place only when the learner has access to L2 input. • The input may be in the form of exposure in natural setting or formal instruction, it may be spoken or written. • Early theories of SLA emphasized the importance of the input. The whole process of learning could be controlled by presenting the L2 in the right-sized doses and ensuring that the learners continued to practice until each feature was ‘overlearned’ / automatic. LEARNER STRATEGIES (LS) • LS is the use of general cognitive strategies to shift the input the learner receives and relates to his / her existing knowledge. • There are three LS: a. Learning strategies: the means by which the learners process the L2 input in order to develop linguistic competence. This can be conscious and behavioral or subconscious and psycholinguistic. b. Production strategies: The learners’ attempt to use the L2 knowledge they have already acquired efficiently and clearly. This can be done by rehearsal of what should be said and discourse planning. c. Communication strategies: learners’ attempt to communicate meaning for which they lack the requisite linguistic knowledge. The ROLE OF FORMAL ISNTRUCTION • From the teacher’s point of view, the role of formal instruction plays in SLA is of central importance. • Studies on formal instruction suggest that it does not change the ‘natural’ route development or the order of learning. • formal instruction may enhance the whole process. Learners who receive formal instruction may learn more rapidly than those who don’t. Although L2 knowledge derived from formal instruction is not immediately available for use in spontaneous conversation, it soon becomes serviceable once the learner has the opportunity to use the L2 in this kind of communication. Formal instruction can have a powerful delay effect.