Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nice to meet you my dear old and new friends.

I have been missing you a lot. You can not imagine how much!

I´d like you to accompany me today in order to discover an amazing world of Second Language Acquisition.

Are you interested in learning English or other foreign languages ?

As you have noticed, nowadays foreign languages are of enormous relevance and they are learned all over the world with huge enthusiasm by a great nimber of people.

The fact of the matter is , second language learning is one of the most popular disciplines in lots of countries.

By and large, bilingualism and pluriligualism  are of great value these days as being able to communicate efficiently in many languages give us a lot of opportunities to work where we like and to create uncomparable masterpieces that nobody till now could be able to produce.

Today, I would like to share with you a piece of my work about second language acquisition.

Especially, I recommend my work to teachers of English and to those who is currently studing to be teachers of foreign languages.

Here you are!!!

According to Swain, 
                        ..producing the target language may be the trigger that forces the learner to pay attention to the means of expression needed in order to successfully convey his or her own intended meaning. (Swain 1985: 249)
                         In Swain's view, learners need not only input, but output: they need to use language in order to learn it.
To my way of thinking both views can be true, that is to say, input and output are equally important so as to achieve successful speaking proficiency and to be a competent communicator. Any extreme is dangerous. That is why I am inclined to believe that Swain´s views can be successful or not. In other words, the result depends on various factors which interfere with the process of second language acquisition.
First, we should bear in mind learners´ needs, their expectancies as well as their demands are o be taken into account.
Secondly, pushing students to speak, forcing them to produce output in the target language make no good to them. As a consequence, learners feel themselves frustrated being unable to give any comprehensible output. Moreover, some of them can lose their motivation and, as a result, their progress will be impeded.
Finally, there is no direct evidence that comprehensible output  leads to language acquisition.It is a fact that high levels of linguistic competence are possible without output. Indeed, there are cases that learners could work out a considerably high level of communicative competence from input alone.I firmly believe that the role of input is as relevant as the role of output. Thus both of them are o be practised simultaneously.

1. An independent role of output in relation to comprehensible input in the process of second language acquisition.
Some investigations which have been made in the field of second language acquisition make it clear that the development of a student´s communicative competence does not depend on comprehensible input entirely.. The learner´s output plays a self-contained part in the process of second language acquisition.
With reference to Krashen (1987) ´´comprehensible input´´ and the affective condition are the actual causes of language acquisition. On this hypothesis, exercises that stimulate students to produce output would be considerable to language acquisition insofar as they take into account atmosphere development takes place in or provide with further comprehensible input.
Nevertheless, Swain (1985) states that there are certain roles that have to do with output in second language learning which are autonomous in relation to comprehensible input´´. The output in Swain´s scrutiny confirms that French immersion students manage to act as well as the native speakers on the points of sociolinguistic competence and discourse. For producing those points learners  do not need grammar a lot, although their grammatical acting is not equal in value to the one of native speakers. Students, in Swain´s investigation, were provided with enough comprehensible input, regardless of the fact that their comprehensible output was scarce. Swain assumes that language production as opposed to just language  comprehension, push the students to indict  the language syntactically, and not only semantically, consequently facilitating students´ grammatical proficiency.
I am of the same opinion here. I do totally agree with Swain´s point of view. My own experience as a self-directed learner showed me that the desire to communicate effectively stimulate us  to shift from semantic processing to syntactic one of the language produced. In other words, the development of our communicative competence does not merely depend on input.

2. Comprehensible input versus comprehensible output.
 Krashen claims that´´ acquisition occurs with reference to the input for meaning, not when  students  produce output and focus on form´´ (Krashen, 1982)
On the contrary, sources on learning strategies emphasize the importance of students´conscious efforts that are led towards production of output as well as grasping of input (Chamot,1987, Dickinson,1987, Holec , 1985, Rubin , 1987 )
Opponents of practising output argue that production of output and focusing on form are of great advantage to students on the grounds that comprehensible input supply  them with all the indispensable sources to develop or improve the second language acquisition.
According to Swain (1985), getting interlocutor´s  message across does happen with grammatically erroneous forms and sociolinguistically inappropriate language. What is more, she points out that negotiation of meaning pushes learners towards the comprehensible  output which is conveyed accurately and appropriately.
Being put in output, to my mind, is a notion that has a lot in common with the ´´ i  ± 1 comprehensible input´´. In my case of self-directed learning, I had to direct myself to comprehensible output, to put it another way, to meet social and practical needs in the foreign language setting.

3. Second language acquisition without output. Is it an effective way to learn foreign languages?
There are a great deal of studies about  acquisition without  any output. The researchers claim that learners are able to achieve high results in second language acquisition and communicative competence without language production at all ( Krashen, 1994 )
Numerous studies confirm that learners normally acquire a small but important portions of new vocabulary knowledge being exposed only once to an unknown word in a comprehensible context sufficient for predicted vocabulary growth ( Anderson, Herman, and Naggy, 1985 )
Apart from the abovementioned investigations, Krashen and Dupuy ( 1993 ) obtained similar results in second language development.
Ellis ( 1995) gives another example of acquisition without output. The participants of his scrutiny were divided into two groups. The first one produced no output , however made
moderate , but significant gains related to vocabulary, acquiring, in practice, more lexical units per minute than the group that had to interact with the native speakers.
Though we have some surveys that support the abovediscussed views, I strongly disagree with that point of view due to the fact that my own experience as a learner and a teacher confirms that without comprehensible output as well as input would be impossible to acquire the target language, not to mention successful speaking proficiency.
For instance, I am Ukrainian and had to learn Spanish due to the fact I had to live and work here. As you know, all the Slavic languages are quite conservative, particularly in terms of morphology (the means of inflecting nouns and verbs to indicate grammatical differences).As a result, I found myself in trouble quite often when I had a conversation with native speakers. First, I had merely been engaging in semantic processing of the desired grammatical forms. Later, I found out that I had to analyze  thoroughly the grammar of the language, that is ,to do grammatical analysis of the received input. My further understanding of the syntactic rules was derived from the comparison between the incomprehensible output and comprehensible input.
Therefore, it seems to me that syntactic rather than semantic analysis of input for grammatical structures might be essential for correcting incomprehensible output.

Reconciliation between the two seemingly various views as to what constitutes second language learning, as Swan puts it,  is possible.
All things considered, I would like to summarize that both views expressed by Swain can be reconciled. Though seemingly different as to what constitutes second language acquisition or learning, both points of view are of great relevance and must be taken into account by foreign language teachers.
´´Rome was not built in a day´´. With respect to the comprehensible output hypothesis, it still has some points to be discussed, some problems to be solved out:
- comprehensible output is far too rare in practice. It is not enough to make a considerable contribution to linguistic competence
- relatively high levels of communicative competence are possible without any kind of output
-We still have no direct data stating that comprehensible output leads straight to language acquisition
Furthermore, there is some evidence that confirm the fact that the majority of students can not stand being forced to speak. Not to mention the fact that some of them feel lots of times totally frustrated being unable to make themselves understood. Such situations must be avoided, of course. Instead, the stress should be made on the needs of students. With reference to the input hypothesis, need can be of some help when it puts the learner in a position to get comprehensible input. Moreover, stimulating  and comprehensible input will result in language acquisition through negotiation of meaning .It will help learners to polish their output, improving at the same time the level of their communicative competence.
 Related to input, I want to mention the fact that students in French immersion, in spite of years of input, were not as good as observers planned they should be in grammatical aspects of their target language ( Swain, 1985 )
To a certain extent this is true, but I am inclined to believe that though  the input is considered as insufficient in the abovementioned case, I think, it helps learners to pay attention not only to meaning, but also to form of the target language. In this way learners can elaborate the proper comprehensible output , which will be understood by native speakers, providing at the same time acquirers with the opportunity to interact successfully and feel themselves,indeed, proficient speakers.
It can be argued ,nonetheless, that we have not yet given comprehensible input a true chance.

For the above stressed reasons ,  we still have to see how learners will progress in case their environment is filled with comprehensible input. Therefore the following point must be taken into account – second language acquisition is a process that evolves constantly,not a product. It is impossible to stop it growing, since all the parts that are involved in this incessant process tend to be shaped by interlocutors according to their needs: pragmatic and  social. Littlewood(1987) divided  communication needs into pragmatic and social. 

According to Littlewood, the former  refers to the desire to communicate effectively in a pragmatic sense´´,the latter to ´´the desire to communicate appropriately in a social sense´´
Problems that students often encounter are problems of social needs on the interpersonal level as well as,on occasions, learners  are conscious that their communicative competence is not strong enough to cope with pragmatic needs.

Taking everything  into consideration, we need to upgrade and enrich  constantly our knowledge and awareness of pragmatic and social needs as suggested in Littlewoods model  in order  to be really competent communicators.
All in all, acquirers who are  motivated and have  access to a variety of interesting reading and listening sources, being able to choose when they want to produce output and when to keep silent elaborating their speech are bound to succeed in acquiring target language. Only then, their efforts will bring the desired result and they convert into real competent communicators.
Producing language has vital and very important functions in the process of second/foreign language learning and teaching which need to be investigated in future.
´´The process of rendering thinking into speech is not simply a matter of memory retrieval, but a process through which thinking reaches a new level of articulation´´ ( Smagorinsky, 1998 )
On balance, output is as relevant as input in second language acquisition. Both of them are needed :

-to have  ideas crystallized;
-to elaborate one´s own rules and sharpen understanding of ambiguous  points;
-to make more obvious inconsistencies and work on them;
-to be able to reflect on  errors;
-to externalize thinking and have  problems resolved;
-to control the process of acquiring languages;
-to analyze one´s one progress in second language acquisition

Waiting for your feedback, my dear friends !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kind regards .


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