Innatist and Interactionist theories and their teaching implications
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Innatist and Interactionist theories and their teaching implications Introduction Although second language acquisition (SLA) varies from first language acquisition in different aspects such as the chance of success and degree of linguistic competence, there are some similarities between the two processes which are worth to be studied. These similarities help linguists to understand second language acquisition from the background knowledge of first language acquisition. Because of this, many theories of second language acquisition such as the Innatism and Interactionist are based on the theories of first language acquisition. In this essay, I am going to first, discuss these two second language acquisition theories, Innatism and Interactionist and their teaching implications; second, select a theory which I believe will influence me most in my future teaching career and explain the reasons behind. Innatism According to Chomsky's (1959) theory, every child are biologically equipped with a language acquisition device (LAD) which contains a set of universal grammar (UG) principals common to all language. Opposite to the view of interactionists which emphasizes on the role of environment to language learning, Chomsky claimed that the environment only plays a small part in language learning which only stimulates the working of the LAD and UG while the innate LAD and UG will do the rest of the acquisition process.
Critical period hypothesis suggests that learning of language after the critical period may not be as easy as the childhood learning and so early second language learning may have an advantage over the adults'. Krashen's "monitor model" further suggests that language teaching should not only focus on the language rules as knowing the rules does not mean to have acquired the rules. Students who spend too much time in searching for the rules in their mind before speaking may affect their speaking fluency. Instead, teachers should encourage fluent speaking by putting less emphasizes on the rules. As the natural order hypothesis suggests that there is a predicted natural sequence in language acquisition, language teaching should also follow the sequence. However, since Karshen argued that what first acquired in the natural sequence are not the easiest rules to be learnt, the teaching sequence may not start from the easiest. The input hypothesis is also useful in teaching which suggests that language teaching should not be too difficult or too easy for the learners but reach an appropriate level just beyond students' current level. As to improve this, I suggest that language teaching should be in a small group in order to enable teachers to provide teaching activities suitable for students at different level Interactionist Some interactionist theories are influenced by psychological learning theories.
However, I find interaction most useful in language learning because it does not only improve students' linguistic competence but also communicative competence. It provides a chance for students to improve their speaking skills by listening to the others and recognizing their own mistakes. Different ways of how things are said can also be learnt and so it enhances students' semantic ability. Apart from these advantages, interaction is more welcomed by students because it is considered to be more interesting than the other teaching methods such as drilling and memorizing linguistic rules based on other theories. Through causal interaction, students' confidence in speaking a second language can also be enhanced. As the ultimate aim of speaking a language is for interaction and communication between each other, I believe there is a lot to learn from a normal and realistic language setting and that is an interaction setting. Conclusion There are many useful theories which help us to understand second language acquisition. Krashen's monitor model of Innatism and Interactionism has suggested many useful ideas such as the natural acquisition sequence and the importance of modified interaction for SLA. These theories have brought about a lot of future teaching implications and so the teaching of second language has greatly benefited from these theories. By: Leung Ka Man, Carmen University no.
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