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Title:Second language acquisition as the control of non-primary linguistic perception: A critique of research and theory
Author(s):Judd, Joel Bennett
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cziko, Gary A.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Education, Educational Psychology
Abstract:The field of second language acquisition (SLA) has, in the last forty years, been one of the fastest growing branches of the social sciences. Today, aspects of non-primary language teaching and research are studied the world over. Advances in communications technology and geopolitical developments have served to increase public awareness of the importance and role of language in our lives.
Unfortunately, our understanding of the psychology of human language and behavior has not kept pace with these historical developments. As a result, the field of SLA has been employing research methods typical of the social sciences in general and psychology in particular, which methods are based on the statistical analysis of groups. While providing more and more data about the linguistic behavior of groups, they offer little understanding about how any one person learns another language. These methods are a result of psychology's emphasis on explaining behavior as a linear, predictable process.
In this thesis, it is argued that the main questions of interest in SLA are questions of individual language learning: How does one learn another language? How are different languages organized in the brain? Therefore, problems arise when methods of group statistical measurement are used to extrapolate to the individual. A review of studies used as evidence for key SLA hypotheses supports this claim. It is then argued that in order to determine an appropriate research methodology for SLA, a different theory of language and language learning is needed. For this purpose a current, general theory of human behavior as purposeful and goal-driven is offered as relevant to the field of SLA. With such a perspective, a more useful and accurate model of behavior and language is possible. Also, important changes in current conceptions of teaching are explored.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Judd, Joel Bennett
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9236495
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9236495

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