Five central issues

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Fossilization: Five central issues ZhaoHong Han Teachers College, Columbia University SLRF 2002, Toronto, Canada The ultimate goal of second language acquisition research is to come to an understanding of what is acquired _ (and what is not acquired) and the mechanisms that bring second language knowledge about (Gass, 1988:198; emphasis added) Background Definitions and putative causal variables Conceptual issues Major methodological approaches and issues Some concluding thoughts Background Chien-Shiung Wu 1990 1942 with her early difficulties speaking idiosyncratic English with English still evident One of the most enduring and fascinating problems confronting researchers of second language acquisition (SLA) is whether adults can ever acquire native-like competence in a second language (L2), One of the most enduring and fascinating problems confronting researchers of second language acquisition (SLA) is whether this is an accomplishment reserved for children who start learning at a relatively early age (Kellerman, 1995: 219) For most of us the acquisition of second language is less spectacular If we are past the age of around 7-10 years the acquisition of an L2, in marked contrast to the way we acquired our first language (L1), can turn out to be rather slow, laborious and, even in talented L2 learners, tends to stop short of native-like proficiency This "stopping short" has been referred to as fossilization (Selinker, 1972) or incompleteness (Schachter, 1990) It is one of the noticeable characteristics of second language acquisition (Towell & Hawkins, 1994:2) Definitions 10 Putative causal variables 29 Issue 1: Global or local fossilization? 30 Issue 2: L2 ultimate attainment and fossilization 31 General failure  Differential success/failure  32 Bley-Vroman (1989:8) [T]hey achieve very different degrees of language mastery Few, it seems, achieve native-like proficiency Some stop (or, to use Selinker’s 1972 term, ‘fossilize’) at a very elementary level Others come between the two extremes 33 (2002:164 Hyltenstam and Abrahamsson ) The ultimate attainment of individual L2 learners varies enormously in its approximation to nativelike proficiency, although some individuals may reach very high levels of proficiency and in some cases even pass as native speakers 34 Three facets of L2 ultimate attainment Cross-learner general failure (general)  Inter-learner differential success/failure (general)  Intra-learner differential success/failure (local)  35 Issue 3: Fossilization as product or process 36 Issue 4: Stabilization or fossilization? 37 Major empirical approaches 38 • • • • • longitudinal typical-error advanced-learner corrective-feedback length-of-residence (LoR) 39 Issue 5: years or 10 years? 40 Larsen-Freeman (1997:159) While interlanguages of speakers of various first language learning English as a foreign language have much in common, they also are each constrained by the strange attractors of distinctive, their L1s, which may be greater than the force of the strange attractor of English Thus, the English pronunciation of a native speaker of Spanish will differ from that of a native speaker of Chinese 41 Larsen-Freeman (1997:159) otherfundamental fundamentaldifferences differencesmark mark Many other thethe challenges for learners learnersfrom fromone onenative native challenges present present for language asfor foranother another.Besides Besidesthe language background background as the obvious linguistically-based differences are obvious linguistically-based differences are the the learner's cultural backgrounds and reasons learner's cultural backgrounds and reasons for for learning learning) a second or foreign learning (not(not learning) a second or foreign language the first first place place language in in the 42 Some concluding thoughts 43 [...]... ceases, and even serious conscious efforts to change are often fruitless Brief changes are sometimes observed, but they do not 'take' The learner backslides to the stable state 26 Tarone (1994:1715) A central characteristic of any interlanguage is that it fossilizes that is, it ceases to develop at some point short of full identity with the target language 27 Han (1998:50)   COGNITIVE LEVEL: COGNITIVE
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