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SLA and Ultimate Attainment Stefan Rathert

SLA and Ultimate Attainment

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SLA and Ultimate Attainment Stefan Rathert

  1. 1. SLA AND ULTIMATE ATTAINMENT SLA RESEARCH FOR LANGUAGE TEACHING (ELT-816) STEFAN RATHERT Çukurova University Adana, ELT Department, 25 February, 2015
  2. 2. OVERVIEW  Introduction  Definition and scope of ultimate attainment  Rationale for research on ultimate attainment  Aspects related to ultimate attainment  Non-native-like outcomes in SLA  Fossilization  Researching ultimate attainment  Ultimate attainment and the Critical Period Hypothesis  Testing CPH: the incidence of native-like attainment  Initial state, end state and Universal Grammar  Dissociations and asymmetries  Ultimate attainment and cortical function
  3. 3. DEFINITION AND SCOPE  Ultimate attainment = outcome or end point of acquisition irrespective of degree of approximation to the target grammar  linguistic system (grammar) of an individual speaker has reached stasis  L1 speaker’s grammar => “a native system” (van Patten & Benati, 2010: 162)  L2 speaker’s grammar=> native-like or different from native speaker’s system?
  4. 4. DEFINITION AND SCOPE  Ultimate attainment also referred to as final state, end state or asymptote  research on ultimate attainment informed by insights from linguistic theory, cognitive neuroscience and experimental theory
  5. 5. RATIONALE FOR RESEARCHING ULTIMATE ATTAINMENT Study of ultimate attainment affords perspectives on SLA:  In how far is L2 grammar different from the target grammar?  Is there an age effect in SLA?  Do L2 learners have access to Universal Grammar?  To what extent do L2 learners use procedural and declarative memory for language representation and processing?  Are different brain areas involved in L1 and L2 processing?
  6. 6. NON-NATIVE-LIKE OUTCOMES IN SLA In how far is L2 grammar different from L1 grammar? Non-native-like grammatical representation incompleteness • learner’s L2 grammar lacks some property of target grammar divergence • property is instantiated inconsistantly with the target grammar indeterminacy (probabilistic grammar) • variability in intuitions for grammaticality from Time 1 to Time 2 • Time 1: John sought Fred. Time 2: *John seeked Fred.
  7. 7. FOSSILIZATION  concept introduced by Selinker (1972); refers to end state of SLA  umbrella term: understood as a process, cognitive mechanism and result of learning including backsliding, low proficiency, errors impervious to negative evidence
  8. 8. FOSSILIZATION  problematic term:  does fossilization explain ultimate attainment or does fossilization need to be explained?  what causes fossilization (learner traits [e.g. aptitude, motivation], L1-L2 differences, age)?  after how many years does fossilization occur?  is there ever a complete cessation in development?  stabilization: a plateau in learning, but not necessarily a complete cessation in learning (cf. van Patten & Benati, 2010)
  9. 9. ULTIMATE ATTAINMENT AND THE CRITICAL PERIOD HYPOTHESIS Is there an age effect in SLA?  claims of CPH:  native-like L2 attainment impossible when start of SLA is delayed after certain critical age  general rule: the later the arrival in the target country, the lower the level of ultimate attainment will be
  10. 10. ULTIMATE ATTAINMENT AND THE CRITICAL PERIOD HYPOTHESIS predictors for level of ultimate attainment age of arrival/onset amount of L2 input and interaction age of initial exposure
  11. 11. ULTIMATE ATTAINMENT AND THE CRITICAL PERIOD HYPOTHESIS Figure 1: The stretched Z (Granena & Long, 2013: 313)  peak: period of maximal sensitivity to linguistic input  offset of critical period beginning at 3/6 years of age and ending when “full neurocognitive maturation is reached” (Birdsong, 2005: 112)  after discontinuity sensitivity remains at low level
  12. 12. ULTIMATE ATTAINMENT AND THE CRITICAL PERIOD HYPOTHESIS Other models to explain age effects on ultimate attainment (Birdsong, 2005: 113): Figure 2: Age function with postmaturational Figure 3: Age function with prematurational Figure 4: Linear decline offset offset  Figure 2: offset begins where neurocognitive maturation is reached, no end point for offset  Figure 3: offset begins before neurocognitive maturation is reached, no end point for offset  Figure 4: highest level of language learning sensitivity close to birth, language sensitivity decreases as age of onset increases; general age effects on SLA, no critical period
  13. 13. TESTING CPH: THE INCIDENCE OF NATIVE-LIKE ATTAINMENT  native-like attainment among late learners (i.e. learners whose age of arrival is after neurolinguistic maturation) => falsification of CPH  test of highly advanced L2 speakers’ grammatical development and phonology in comparison to native control group:  grammaticality judgment tests (e.g. on tense, aspect, syntactic structures)  L2 speakers’ speech recorded and jugded by panel of judges (all natives)  processing and parsing (how L2 speakers create syntactic structure while reading or listening) (van Patten & Benati, 2010: 16)
  14. 14. TESTING CPH: THE INCIDENCE OF NATIVE-LIKE ATTAINMENT some studies on native-like attainment in late learners (as cited in Birdsong, 2004) study participants test battery results Coppieters (1987) 21 near-native speakers of French; varying L1 backgrounds; 20 natives as control group grammaticality judgment test native-likeness not observed Johnson & Newport (1991) 23 learners of English, L1 Chinese; native control group grammaticality judgment test (syntactic properties) native-likeness not observed Birdsong (1992) 20 speakers of French, L1: English, AOA mean: 14.9; time of residence mean: 14.9) grammaticality judgment test more than half of the participants in range of performance of native control group Cranshaw (1997) 40 learners of English; L1: Chinese (20), French (20) production and grammaticality judgment test 3 Francophones and 1 Sinophone native-like van Wuijtswinkel (1994) 2 groups (26 and 8 participants) of English speakers; L1: Dutch grammaticality judgment test 8 out of 26 and 7 out of 8 native-like
  15. 15. TESTING CPH: THE INCIDENCE OF NATIVE-LIKE ATTAINMENT  disparate results in studies on native-like attainment in late learners possibly due to  subject sampling (participants in some studies pre- screened for demonstrating high attainment)  variation resulting from different L1-L2 pairings
  16. 16. TESTING CPH: THE INCIDENCE OF NATIVE-LIKE ATTAINMENT  disparate results in studies on native-like attainment in late learners possibly due to  variation in procedural controls/research methods In fact, so far no study relying on a multivariate test design (including challenging tests and tasks, not just tests of very basic linguistic structures and trivial features) has been able to describe an adult L2 learner who, in every relevant respect, exhibits an L2 proficiency that is fully comparable to that of native speakers (Abrahamsson, 2012: 192).
  17. 17. INITIAL STATE, END STATE AND UNIVERSAL GRAMMAR Do L2 learners have access to Universal Grammar? What is the initial state (starting point) for L2 learners? In the initial state, is there access to Universal Grammar? In the initial state, is there L1 transfer? By answering these questions, the SLA end-state can be predicted.
  18. 18. INITIAL STATE, END STATE AND UNIVERSAL GRAMMAR Do L2 learners have access to Universal Grammar? condition prediction full UG access, no L1 transfer => native-like competence no UG access, full L1 transfer => no native-like competence full UG access, full L1 transfer => native-like competence not excluded
  19. 19. DISSOCIATIONS AND ASYMMETRIES To what extent do L2 learners use procedural and declarative memory for language representation and processing? Dissociation between rule-based and lexical knowledge forms subserved by different areas of the brain different amounts of cortical activation acquisition of regular morphology (e.g. walk-walked; book- books) • rule-based, symbolic processing of stem + ending • stored in the procedural memory acquisition of irrregular morphology (e.g. go-went; child-children) • accessed as individual units from associative memory • sensitive to frequency in input • stored in the declarative memory
  20. 20. DISSOCIATIONS AND ASYMMETRIES two studies with L2 learners reaching ultimate attainment (as cited in Birdsong, 2004) L2 learners initially store most target language forms as idiosyncratic information in declarative memory by L2 end state, learners store regular target language forms in procedural memory study participants test battery results Birdsong & Flege (2001) 30 Spanish and 30 Korean natives at L2 end state judgment tests (regularity vs. irregularity) •effect of item frequency significantly higher for irregular items than for regular items •Korean participants’ performance regarding noun plurals depressed (no plural inflection in Korean) •accuracy decline and increased response time with increasing age of arrival more pronounced for irregular forms Brovetto & Ullman (2001) 32 Spanish and 32 Chinese natives; minimum of three years’ US residence oral production of regular and irregular English pasts •both irregulars and regulars sensitive to frequency
  21. 21. DISSOCIATIONS AND ASYMMETRIES the L2 learner’s dominant language (as cited in Birdsong, 2004) asymmetry in language processing of L2 speakers at end state requires further research study participants language domain results Cutler et al. (1989) early French- English bilinguals (with French and English as dominant language, respectively) segmentation routines (syllable based vs. non- syllable based) bilinguals with French as dominant language able to switch between both segmentation strategies, bilinguals with English as dominant language use indiscriminately one strategy Golato (1998) late French- English bilinguals (with French and English as dominant language, respectively) segmentation routines (syllable based vs. non- syllable based) bilinguals with English as dominant language able to switch between both segmentation strategies, bilinguals with French as dominant language use indiscriminately one strategy
  22. 22. ULTIMATE ATTAINMENT AND CORTICAL FUNCTION Are different brain areas involved in L1 and L2 processing?  To what degree do L1 processing and L2 processing involve similar neural substrates?  For cortical functioning, is age or proficiency crucial?
  23. 23. ULTIMATE ATTAINMENT AND CORTICAL FUNCTION Research tools (cf. van Patten & Benati, 2010: 117):  brain imaging (snapshots of brain activity) through:  Functional Resonance Imagıng (fMRI)  Positron Emission Tomography (PET)  Event Related Potentials (ERPs)
  24. 24. ULTIMATE ATTAINMENT AND CORTICAL FUNCTION Some results(as cited in Birdsong, 2004):  involvement of neural subsystems differs as function of age of arrival with learners having low L2 proficiency (Weber-Fox & Neville, 1999):  increasing proficiency and not age of acquisition lead to common cortical representation of L1 and L2 in semantic processing (Illes et al., 1999, Klein et al., 1995) and listening passively to a story (Perani et al., 1998)
  25. 25. ULTIMATE ATTAINMENT AND CORTICAL FUNCTION Some results(as cited in Birdsong, 2004):  while recounting events silently, common neural representation for L1 and L2 with early bilinguals, but distinct representation with late bilinguals (Kim et al., 1997) “(…) highly proficient L2 learners with extensive communicative exposure to the L2 demonstrate increasing overlap of the areas of the brain that also serve L1 processing. (…) age may play a factor in terms of the extent to which both the L1 and L2 involve the same parts of the brain” (van Patten & Benati, 2010: 118).
  26. 26. CONCLUSIONS Study on ultimate attainment helped recognize and understand range of variables:  age of arrival/onset  L1-L2 pairing  quantity and quality of input Areas of further research:  asymmetries near the end state  affective profiles of L2 learners  effect of social-psychological variables (attitude, integrative orientation, etc.) (Granena & Long, 2012)
  27. 27. REFERENCES Abrahamsson, N. (2013). Age of onset and nativelike L2 ultimate attainment of morphosyntactic and phonetic intuition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 34: 187-214. Birdsong, D. (1992). Ultimate attainment in second language acquisition. Language 68: 706-755. Birdsong, D. (2004). Second language acquisition and ultimate attainment. In: Davies, A. & C. Elders (Eds.) The handbook of applied linguistics (pp. 82-105). Malden: Blackwell Publishing. Birdsong, D. (2005). Interpreting age effects in second language acquisition. In: Knoll, J.F. & de Groot, A.M.B. (Eds.) Handbook of bilingualism: Psycholinguistic approaches (pp. 109-127). New York, Oxford University Press. Birdsong, D & Fledge, J.E. (2001). Regular-irregular dissociatations in the acquisition of English as a second language. In: BUCLD 25: Proceedings of the 25th Annual Boston University Conference on language development (pp. 123-132). Boston, MA: Cascadilla Press. Brovetto, C. & Ullman, M.T. (2001). Firts vs. second language: a differential reliance on grammatical computations and lexical memory. In: Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual CUNY Conference on human sentence processing (Vol. 14). Philadelphia, PA: CUNY Graduate School and University Center. Coppieters, R. (1987). Competence differences between native and near-native speakers. Language 63: 544-573. Cranshaw, A. (1997). A study of anglophone native and metalinguistic performance. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Université de Montréal. Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1989). Limits on bilingualism. Nature 340: 159-160. Golato, P. (1998). Syllabification processes among French-English bilinguals: a further study of the li,mits of bilingualism. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Texas, Austin. Granena, G. & Long, M.H. (2012). Age of onset, length of residence, language aptitude, and ultimate L2 attainment in three linguistic domains. Second Language Research 29(3): 311-343. Illes, J., Francis, W.S., Desmond, J.E., Gabrieli, J.D.E., Glover, G.H., Poldrack, R., Lee, C.J., & Wagner, A.D. (1999). Convergent cortical prepresentations of semantic processing in bilinguals. Brain and Language 70: 347-363. Johnson, J.S., & Newport, E.L. (1991). Critical period effects on universal properties of language: the status of subjacency in the acquisition of a second language. Cognition 39: 215-258. Kim, K.H.S., Relkin, NM.R., Lee, K.-M., & Hirsch, J. (1997). Distinct cortical areas associated with native and second languages. Nature 388: 171-174. Klein, D., Zatorre, R.J., Milner, B., Moyer, E. & Evans, A.C. (1995). The neural substrates of bilinguıal language processing: evidence from positron emission tomography. In: Paradis, M. (Ed.). Aspects of bilingual aphasia (pp. 23-36). Oxford: Pergamon. Perani, D., Paulesu, E., Galles, N.S., Dupoux, E., Dehaene, S., Bettinardi, V., Cappa, S.F., Fazio, F., & Mehler, J. (1998). The bilingual brain: proficiency and age of acquisition of the second language. Brain 121: 1841-1852. Selinker, L. (1972). Interlanguage. International Review of Applied Linguistics 10: 209-231. van Patten, B. & Benati, A. (2010). Key terms in second language acquisition. New York, London: continuum. van Wuijtswinkel, K. (1994). Critical period effects on the acquisition of grammatical competence in a second language. Unpublished thesis, Katholieke Universiteit, Nijmegen.

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    Apr. 21, 2017

SLA and Ultimate Attainment

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