What do we know when we know a language?

What do we know when
we know a language?
TESOL Teacher Professional Development in Namibia
May 2013
 Linguistic
 Social
 Psychological
Linguistic Perspective
 Phonetics and Phonology
 Morphology
 Syntax
 Semantics
 Pragmatics
Linguistic Perspective
 Important concepts
 Universal grammar
 Linguistic competence
 Linguistic performance
Linguistic Perspective
 Universal Grammar (UG)
 The innate ability people are born with to learn a
 All languages have similar properties with limited
parameters: Word order, parts of speech,
 All languages are rule-governed and are generally
learned in the same way
Linguistic Perspective
 Linguistic competence: what speakers of a language
know about the language
 Linguistic performance: how speakers of a
language use what they know
Linguistic Perspective
 The Monitor Model (Krashen)
Acquisition/Learning Hypothesis
Monitor Hypothesis
Natural Order Hypothesis
Input Hypothesis
Affective Filter Hypothesis
The Monitor Model
 i+ 1
Linguistic Perspective
Interlanguage (IL)
Social Perspective
Communicative competence
Microsocial factors
Macrosocial factors
Language community
Interaction hypothesis
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
Acculturation Model
Social Perspective
 Communicative Competence:
“what a speaker needs to know to communicate
appropriately within a particular language community”
(Saville-Troike, 2003)
Vocabulary + phonology + grammar + any other
linguistic structure + rules re: what to say to whom and
when and how…and if.
Social Perspective
 Microsocial factors
 Variability among a language community or within a
learner that is systematic and predictable
 I ate dinner v. I ate supper.
 Hi v. hello v. good morning
 Macrosocial factors
 Features of the larger political setting, social position,
societal attitudes, values, ethnicity, gender, age
Social Perspective
 Language Community
 A group of people who share knowledge of a
common language at least to some extent
 How many language communities do you belong to?
How are they different? How are they similar?
Social Perspective
 Interaction Hypothesis
 The claim that modifications and collaborative efforts
which take place in social interaction facilitate SLA because
they contribute to the accessibility of input for mental
processing (Saville-Troike 2012, p. 190)
 Modifications:
 Oral: high frequency phrases, pauses grammatical
junctures, slower speed, repetition, paraphrase, expansion,
sentence completion
 Written: academic texts include frequent organization
markers, clear topic sentences, highlighting of key terms
(synonyms + paraphrases), lists of main points, elaboration
of specific points, visual aids, explicit summations at
regular intervals, questions
Social Perspective
 Accommodation Theory:
 Speakers change their pronunciation and even
grammatical complexity to sound more like
whomever they are talking to.
 …so if teachers use the language they want their
students to use….
 Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky)
 The distance between current ability and potential
growth. In order to learn, the learner needs guidance.
It is where learning happens.
Social Perspective
Social Perspective
 Scaffolding
 Verbal guidance which an expert provides to help a learner
perform any specific task, or the verbal collaboration of
peers to perform a task which would be too difficult for any
one of them in individual performance
S: Taki
T: What did Taki do?
S: Pencil
T: What did Taki do with the pencil?
S: Throw (makes a throwing motion)
T: Taki, don’t throw pencils.
Social Perspective
 Acculturation Model
 Identifies group factors such as identity and status
which determine social and psychological distance
between learner and target language populations.
Psychological Perspective
 Information Processing
 Controlled/Automatic
 Connectionism
 Critical Period Hypothesis and Age
 Gender
 Cognitive Style
 Learning Style, Learning Strategies
 Information Processing
 Critical Period Hypothesis
 Gender
 Cognitive Style
Tolerance for Ambiguity
Field dependence
 Learning Strategies
 Metacognitive: attempt to regulate learning by
planning and monitoring. Ex: pre-viewing, deciding
in advance to attend to specific input…
 Cognitive: make use of direct analysis or synthesis of
linguistic material. Ex: repeating after a language
model, translating, guessing meaning through
 Social/affective: involve interaction with others. Ex:
asking questions for clarification, asking for
repetition, explanation or examples

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