American University of Beirut
Education 345: Language Acquisition
Instructor: Dr. Kassim Shaaban
Spring 2002
By Nada Salem Abisamra

Group for Discussions on Facebook: Nada's ESL Island.(Join us there! Post your questions)

"Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language - natural communication - in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding." Stephen Krashen

Books to Read:

*Cook, V.J. (2001), "Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition"
*Cook, V.J. (2001), "Second Language Learning and Language Teaching"
Arnold, third edition
"Vivian Cook worked as a lecturer in EFL in Ealing Technical College, then as Director of the Language Service at North East London Polytechnic and is now Reader at Essex University. He is chiefly known for his work on L2 learning and for his book on Chomsky."
*Foster-Cohen, Susan H. (1999), "An Introduction to Child Language Development"
"Susan Foster-Cohen is the Head of the Department of English at the University of London, The British Institute in Paris, France."
*Second Language Acquisition (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics)
by Wolfgang Klein
*The Tapestry of Language Learning : The Individual in the Communicative Classroom
by Robin C. Scarcella, Rebecca L. Oxford
*Inquiries and Insights
by Stephen D. Krashen
*Language Learning Strategies : What Every Teacher Should Know
by Rebecca L. Oxford
& Web site
*English Linguistics- History

The English Language!
"The English language is like a car. It needs four wheels to run smoothly. It can run with three but it will be a very bumpy ride! The four wheels of the English language include the semantics wheel, the morphology wheel, the syntax wheel, and the phonology wheel."
Paulette Dale, Ph.D.

*Are You A Good Language Learner?

*What Factors Affect Language Acquisition?

*Introduction: Language & Language Learning

Language: Form & Function
A good definition for any concept has to have a definition for form and function.
A child is aware of form before function.

I- Language: FORM

A- Language is a Shared Code:
continental values of vowels: sounds. (There are 11 to 16 sounds).
American English Vowels:
English vowels    [i], [I], [e], [E], [æ], [A], [o], [U], [u], [^], [aj], [aw], [Oj] []
English consonants
  • straightforward symbols
    • [p], [b], [m], [f], [v], [t], [d], [l], [w]
  • not-so-straightforward symbols
    • [k], [g], [s], [z], [n], [h], [j]
  • new symbols
B- Language is a System (It follows rules like every other system)
C- Language is made of Sounds
     (The basic elements of the system)
     [Consonants, Vowels, & Diphthongs => 
     Prosodic features (stress & intonation).
D- Language is a Sound System (Syllabic structure)
E- Language is Words (Word formation)
F- Language is Meaning (Study of meaning)
    How meanings are associated- 
    How synonyms/antonyms are acquired.


G- Language is Sentences (Sentence structure)
H- Language is Context
     =>Cohesion: syntactically makes sense
     =>Coherence: understandable


*Phonetics: It is the science or study of the physical aspects of speech events.
*Phonology: It is the study of how the sound systems of a language interact with each other. For example, the final [t] of the word "subject" becomes [] when the suffix "-ion" is added to the word. Thus phonology is the study of how the vowels and consonants interact with each other and how they, in turn, may be affected by elements such as stress.
*Morphology: It is the branch of linguistics that deals with the internal structure of those words that can be broken down further into meaningful parts. Morphology is concerned centrally with how speakers of language understand complex words and how they create new ones.
*Semantics: Study of context-independent meaning.
*Syntax: It is the study of the part of the human linguistic system that determines how sentences are put together out of words.
*Pragmatics: Study of context-dependent meaning. (Pragmatics" self-study exercises)
Pragmatics is the study of the context-dependent aspects of MEANING that are systematically abstracted away from in the construction of LOGICAL FORM.
*Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics compared.
II- Language: FUNCTION
Language is a shared code. Its main function is Communication: Verbal & Non-Verbal.
    A- Verbal Communication
    1. Expressive Communication: Express needs, emotions
    2. Transactional Communication: Talk, respond, request, apologize,... + Performative language (ex. I bet you $10 that...)
    3. Phatic Communication/ Formulaic Expressions: Small talk- Ex. Good afternoon; How do you do; Pleased to meet you; ... + Conversational openers (ex. talking about the weather...)
    4. Metaphorical/Poetic Communication: Artistic element in communication. "Writing for writing's sake"
    B- Non-Verbal Communication
    1. Kinesics or Body Language: (ex. nodding...) used to portray moods and emotions and to emphasize or contradict what is being said. ["The Silent Language" by Edward Hall]
    2. Artifacts:.objects, often clothes, jewelry, pictures, trinkets, which express ones interests, hobbies, status, or lifestyle.
    3. Haptics:.touch
    4. Chronemics:.time
    5. Proxemics:.personal space
*Competence & Performance.(Chomsky)
  • Competence: What we know- Our deep structure- What we are capable of doing.
  • Performance: What we show- Our surface structure. What we do.
  • *Miscellaneous
  • Children also learn Paralanguage: Paralanguage refers to vocal features that accompany speech and contribute to communication but are not generally considered to be part of the language system, as vocal quality, loudness, and tempo: sometimes also including facial expressions and gestures.

  • Page created on February 18, 2002 ||  Last updated on October 26, 2009
    Copyright © 2002-2009 Nada Salem Abisamra

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