Assumptions Underlying Second Language Acquisition

Assumptions underlying traditional second language acquisition (SLA) theories were based primarily on the work of linguists who are now considered first generation cognitive scientists. Noam Chomsky’s Cartesian Linguistics firmly positioned his views under the rationale of Rene Descartes whose 17th century outlook considered the the human psyche to be separate from the mind and body; a mechanized biological organism with innate abilities attuned to formal rules. Other members of this generation such as Jerome Bruner, based on the work of Lev Vygotsky and others, began to see human cognition intertwined with their environment in significant ways that mediated language, learning and development (Bruner). Second generation cognitive scientists have shifted perspectives based on the evidence that suggests a merging of psyche, mind and matter based on neural connections in the brain (Tomasello, Johnson, Varela). In turn, SLA theorists such as James Lantolf, Diane Larsen-Freeman, and Marysia Johnson have taken SLA into numerous directions that have significant implications for classroom activities.

“Further, the analysis indicates that seven resources appear to interact in dynamic, dialogic, and complex ways as experienced teachers set about constructing lessons that are goal-oriented, activity-driven, cohesive, and meaningful for both themselves and their students. Finally, the results demonstrate that experienced teachers integrate various material resources in the classroom that influence their talk; consequently, a language lesson can be regarded as both a process and a product that is highly multimodal, multimedial, and intertextual. The study concludes with implications for genre studies, classroom discourse studies, and second language teacher education, and with suggestions for future research.”

Lee, Joseph J., “A Genre Analysis of Second Language Classroom Discourse: Exploring the Rhetorical, Linguistic, and Contextual Dimensions of Language Lessons.” Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2011.


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