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CAS LX 400 Second Language Acquisition Week 10 b. Input and interaction II
Input, intake, interaction • Last time: – Input vs. intake – Foreigner talk as improving comprehension – Krashen: Comprehension required for intake – Long: Interaction (negotiation for meaning) important for calling attention to gaps, achieving intake.
Classroom applications? • What should we do in language classrooms in light of this? • A goal of the language classroom should presumably be to enhance the input, to make it as likely as possible to be used as intake. • What makes the most effective enhancement? Surprising few clear results are out there. • Often differentiating between focus on form vs. focus on meaning approaches.
Doughty (1991) • Investigating several issues at once: • Effectiveness of type of instruction – Meaning oriented – Rule oriented • Effectiveness of teaching “down the markedness hierarchy” (teaching a marked structure and allowing learner-internal generalization to an unmarked structure).
Doughty (1991) • Subjects: 20 international students taking intensive ESL courses, without much prior knowledge of relative clauses. Average length of stay in the US was 3. 7 months. • Tasks: – Grammaticality judgment – Sentence completion
Doughty (1991) • Subjects were pretested, then over two weeks (10 weekdays) they came in to a computer lab to take a “language lesson”. Then, immediately afterwards, subjects were posttested. • In the language lessons, one of three possible things happened: – Subject got the “meaning oriented treatment” – Subject got the “rule oriented treatment” – Subject got the “control treatment”
Doughty (1991) • Daily lessons were a text of 5 -6 sentences (of a two-week long “story”) containing an relative clause formed on the object of a preposition. – This is the book that I was looking for. • Recall: Noun phrase accessibility hierarchy: SU > DO > IO> OP > GEN > OCOMP
Procedure… • Three steps: – Skim – Reading for understanding (experimental section) – Scan • Skim: Subjects saw the text for 30 seconds, with title, first sentence and last sentence highlighted—this is to “get the idea” of what the text is about.
Procedure… • Reading for understanding: Each sentence displayed consecutively at the top of the screen. Three different possibilities: – MOG: Also saw dictionary help (2 m) and semantic explanations (referents, synonyms) (2 m), including relationship between head noun and relative pronoun. – ROG: Saw a little animated presentation of deriving a OPREP sentence from two sentences (This is the book, I was looking for the book, This is the book which I was looking for) – COG: Saw each sentence, 2. 5 minutes.
Procedure… • Scan. Re-scan paragraph in order to be able to answer two questions about it, then write out a summary (NL).
Co. G SU DO IO OP GE OC 9 + + + - 8 + + - 10 + - - - 13 + - - - 12 - - - 11 Pretest S - - - S SU DO IO OP GE OC 3 + + - - 5 + - - 21 + - - 7 + - - - S SU DO IO OP GE OC 2 + - - - 17 + + - - + - 6 + - - - 20 + - - - 4 + - - - 15 + - - - 19 - - - 14 - - - 16 - - - MOG ROG
Co. G SU DO IO OP GE OC 9 + + + 8 + + + 10 + + - - 13 + - - - + - 12 + - - - 11 Posttest S - - - S SU DO IO OP GE OC 3 + + + 5 + + + 21 + + + 7 + + + S SU DO IO OP GE OC 2 + + - - 17 + + + 6 + + - - 20 + + - + + + 4 + - - - 15 + + - - - - 19 + + - - 14 + - - - 16 + - - - MOG ROG
Group mean gain scores
Results • Both experimental groups showed strong positive effects (“Second Language Instruction Does Make a Difference”). • The control group did too (simply from exposure) but not as dramatic. • Both types of instruction appear to be equally effective with respect to gain in relativization ability. • Comprehension-wise, MOG scored 70. 01 vs. ROG’s 43. 68 and Co. G’s 40. 64. Significant. • Subjects improved basically following the NPAH by being taught just a marked position.
Comments • Note that: – ROG subjects improved in their ability to relativize, yet didn’t do so well on the comprehension tests—meaning isn’t utmost in getting the structural rules. – MOG subjects got the structural properties even though not directly instructed in them (meaning didn’t get in the way).
Input, interaction… UG? • UG hasn’t played a very big role in the discussion of the importance of interaction, converting input into intake, negotiating for meaning. How can we connect them?
Parameters, triggers • Recall that one of the crucial features of parameters is that (ideally) each parameter setting has a cluster of effects. – It’s not just that the verb appears before adverbs—it is that the verb moves into the tense position, which means it appears before adverbs and before negation. Coming before adverbs and coming before negation are a cluster of properties tied to the single verbraising parameter.
Parameters, triggers • In order to set a parameter in the way which matches the setting reflected by the language in the environment, the learner needs to look for consequences of a particular setting. • Designated bits of data which can serve as unambiguous indicators of one parameter setting over another are sometimes called triggers.
Parameters, triggers • So, for example, the L 1’er’s task is to examine the input for instances of these triggers and use them to set the parameter to the correct value. • Some of the consequences of any given parameter setting might be fairly obscure, not likely to show up in frequent (or easily analyzed) ambient speech data accessible to the kid. This might make it hard to set one’s parameters—but for the clustering property.
Parameters, triggers • Indications that the verb moves: – Seeing verbs before negation – Seeing verbs before adverbs • Indications that the verb doesn’t move: – Do-support (The verb does not usually move) • Indications that null subjects are allowed: – Null subjects are observed. – Postverbal subjects are allowed. • Indications that null subjects are not allowed: – Expletive subjects are observed (it’s raining).
Parameters, triggers • If triggers are what setting parameters is all about, then the interaction stuff is probably about making the triggers more salient. • Unfortunately, it is difficult to interpret existing “input enhancement” type studies in these terms because they measured different things—we don’t know what triggers were present, what effect making triggers (vs. non-triggers? ) had.
Parameters, triggers • If language acquisition (first or second) were just about finding triggers to set the parameters, why is it so hard then? Why is negotiation, etc. important (to L 2 A anyway)? This suggests that the triggers are in the “incomprehensible” input, that needs to be elaborated on in order to be used as intake (and thus to set the parameter).
Ungrammatical FT • Incidentally, the parameters approach makes “ungrammatical foreigner talk” even more problematic. • Consider: In foreigner talk… – The pronoun it is pervasively omitted. – Auxiliary do is regularly omitted. – Subjects are left out. • What if those were triggers?
An interesting idea (courtesy of Carol Neidle) • If you were to learn French, you would be taught conjugations of regular and irregular verbs. Regular -er verbs have a pattern that looks like this: – Infinitive: donner ‘give’ – 1 sg je donne 1 pl – 2 sg tu donnes 2 pl – 3 sg il donne 3 pl nous donnons vous donnez ils donnent
Some French “irregulars” – – Infinitive: donner ‘give’ 1 sg je donne 1 pl 2 sg tu donnes 2 pl 3 sg il donne 3 pl nous donnons vous donnez ils donnent • Another class of verbs including acheter ‘buy’ is classified as irregular, because the vowel quality changes through the paradigm. – – Infinitive: ceder ‘yield’ 1 sg je cède 1 pl 2 sg tu cèdes 2 pl 3 sg il cède 3 pl nous cédons vous cédez ils cèdent
Some French “irregulars” – – Infinitive: donner ‘give’ 1 sg je donne 1 pl 2 sg tu donnes 2 pl 3 sg il donne 3 pl nous donnons vous donnez ils donnent • The way it’s usually taught, you just have to memorize that in the nous and vous form you have “é” and in the others you have “è”. – – Infinitive: ceder ‘yield’ 1 sg je cète 1 pl 2 sg tu cètes 2 pl 3 sg il cète 3 pl nous cédons vous cédez ils cèdent
Some French “irregulars” • However, the pattern makes perfect phonological sense in French—if you have a closed syllable (CVC), you get è, otherwise you get é. • [s d] (cède) [se. de] (cédez) • So why is this considered irregular? • Because in English, you think of the sounds in cédez as [sed. de], due to the rules of English phonology. – – Infinitive: ceder ‘yield’ 1 sg je cède 1 pl 2 sg tu cèdes 2 pl 3 sg il cède 3 pl nous cédons vous cédez ils cèdent
Some French “irregulars” • Because in English, you think of the sounds in cédez as [sed. de], due to the rules of English phonology. • Since in all of these cases, English phonology would have closed syllables, there’s no generalization to be drawn—sometimes closed syllables have é and sometimes they have è. • What could we do? – – Infinitive: ceder ‘yield’ 1 sg je cède [sed] 1 pl 2 sg tu cèdes [sed] 2 pl 3 sg il cède [sed] 3 pl nous cédons vous cédez ils cèdent [sed. dõ] [sed. de] [sed]
Some French “irregulars” • If people are really “built for language” and are able to pick up language implicitly (as seems to be the case from everything we’ve been looking at), then if people are provided with the right linguistic data, they will more or less automatically learn the generalization. • Problem is: The English filter on the French data is obscuring the pattern, and hiding the generalization. – – Infinitive: ceder ‘yield’ 1 sg je cède [sed] 1 pl 2 sg tu cèdes [sed] 2 pl 3 sg il cède [sed] 3 pl nous cédons vous cédez ils cèdent [sed. dõ] [sed. de] [sed]
Some French “irregulars” • Something to try: Provide people with the right data, see if they pick up the pronunciation. Perhaps: exaggerate syllabification. (attention) Perhaps try to instill this aspect of the phonology first. • Et voilà. Chances are good that this will make these “irregulars” as easy to learn as regulars! – – Infinitive: ceder ‘yield’ 1 sg je cède “sed” 1 pl 2 sg tu cèdes “sed” 2 pl 3 sg il cède “sed” 3 pl nous cédons vous cédez ils cèdent “se—dõ” “se—de” “sed”
“Incomprehensible input” • So this is another way in which input might be “incomprehensible”—not that it is inherently incomprehensible (i. e. not that it would be incomprehensible to a L 1’er), but that the prism of the L 1 is getting in the way of seeing the data for what it really is.