Pramatic

Learning a second language is very different with using a second language. It is always a high wall for second language learner that they found what they learnt are not working in a native society. Which highly increased the difficulties of acquiring the real second language to a native-like level.

The problem of second language learning is that in order to accomplish the native level, we need to understand way more than just grammar or vocabulary or pronunciation. We need to be able to understand the general culture, and also the local culture of the specific location, and from that point you might start to have the potential to speak the real language. My own experience is that after 10 years of English learning I had in Hong Kong, I was still not able to communicate with the people here. Maybe Hawaii is a very special case, because there are many cultures mixed in their language. There are Hawaiian, Japanese, Pidgin, Filipino and more. Which made me think that all the English I learnt in my life is not accurate. However the truth is, every places got their own version of a language, I am pretty sure even Maui have something different with what we have on Oahu. That is why we need to pull our self out of the language circle we are having in our brain and understand the environment around us.

However learning a second language did became a big topic in our society. The power of communication are ever bigger that what we can imagine now. The reason is ever since the technology of internet became popular, information and knowledge became accessible to everyone with the internet connection, all you need is the ability to observe them. And we all know the side that hold more ink will win any match. As Bell mentioned, language play may aid in the acquisition of sociolinguistic competence as learners experiment with different voices. (2005) Which proofs that if we can acquire a second language, it will be a very strong tool to many different categories of work. Which is also why people start to show their attention to the SLS field.

Bell, N. D. (2005). Exploring L2 language play as an aid to SLL: A case study of humour in NS – NNS interaction. Applied Linguistics

Class Reflection

I have not taken any Second Language Learning class before so I have no experience to compare how this course is among other same class. However I do enjoy it throughout the whole semester. Generally, this was a class that I love to be in. As a second language learner, most of the time I will find topics that either interested me or challenged me, which is something I always enjoyed. If there is anything that I do not like about this class, will be the class period time. If it starts a little bit later than what we have now will be such a perfect class.

There are a few topics that I really fell into. The first one is also one of the big component in y research paper, learning in the digital age. Although I already know that technology play a big part in the current society, I never really understand the power of it. After the research and class we had, I think the biggest power technology brought to us is connection. Although what we learnt from is still knowledge from people, the technology we had today connected some resource that we were not able to access thirty years ago. Media like television, internet and radio brought us the convenience that we can access resources form the other half of earth or we can read about anything on the internet with only a click. The communication technology make a lot of things possible which we only seen in James Bond movie before, like video conference and phoning. In terms of language learning, we can use that to connect with any native speaker in any places. It might sounds very normal in this era, however it is actually very amazing because in the generation of my grandfather, you will need to spend a lot of money to travel only for a very short period of time in order to meet a native speaker of the language you want to learn. If you want to be able to have a regular communication with a native speaker you will either have to find them in your own region or be at the region that they live, which is impossible for a lot of cases. Moreover ever since the smart phone technology came out, our choices increased massively. All the apps that we have today is creating a whole new world for language learning.

I was also interested in the corrective feedback section. I always find the teacher I had back in Hong Kong boring and strict, that makes learning really boring and tasteless. Then I figure out one of the biggest reason is that they do not know how to give out feedbacks. However when I give it a deep thought, it is not an easy thing that you can decide how to do in a short period. Even though there are 6 hypothesis listed on the book, I still don’t think any one of them can be called the best one. In my opinion, every single classroom, or even student, require a different set of corrective feedback; which is the reason this category is so hard and so many people study about it. As a child of two teachers (dancing and piano, not real school teacher), I do felt my interest in teaching and I am down for experiment on this topic.

This class was really fun because we got all kind of people to make some interesting discussion happened. I was able to learn a lot from other classmate as well as myself, because I developed a lot more about my own experience.  Before what I knew was only the story, but now I understand it. I am really thankful for having professor Wilding as my professor because your story and experience is the biggest reason I am so interested in this class.

Reading in a foreign language

This week we read about how to become native like in terms of reading in a second language. As the research state, generally acquire a language to a native level required more than 9000 words. (2014)  The data actually surprised me how much works it needs to reach that level. Ever since I start learning English, which is like when I was four years old, I struggled every single day figuring out all the words I do not know. I remember at the very beginning I basically need to look up to every word except all the basic grammar words. And after a certain period, I can start to guess some words when the other part of the sentence can represent the word. However most of the time I just skipped the word and miss some of the meaning if the sentence. After I came to Hawaii, the situation changed again, everything around me turn to English. Including all the signs, menus, textbook, conversation, and even the game I am playing. It just change to the level that I cannot really ignore the words that I do not know. So I started to use dictionary again. That is why I do not find weird when we do the 80% article reading activity, it is because that is a common case for myself.

However, when I started to take Japanese classes, it was a little bit different from learning English. Since I spend a lot of time on watching different kind of Anime, I already learnt a lots of vocabulary before I started to take actual classes. Also because I am Chinese, so a lots of the Kanji is already inside my brain. These two advantage actually gave me the ability to predict the meaning of a term or vocabulary, and most of the time a correct prediction.

Therefore I guess learning a language close to a language that you already acquire will really helped. Maybe that is why people from the Europe can learn a few language in a very short period of time. Because a lot of them have a very similar shape.

Nation, P. (2014). How much input do you need to learn the most frequent 9,000 words? Reading in a Foreign Language, 26(2), 1-16.

Corrective Feedback

Among all the interaction happening in the classroom, giving out feedbacks might be one of the hardest problem you can have as a teacher, because anyone in this world will make mistakes and errors. But that’s the time student will learn. So it comes to the teachers’ problem to make the best effort in feedbacks to help the student learn the best. The essay we read actually trigger me to think about it deeply. As I wanted to be a teacher, it is not bad to think about it in advance. The questions in the essay gave me some good points to think about. For example they ask: Should learners’ errors be corrected; when errors should be corrected; how errors should be corrected, etc. (1997) The action a teacher to should take in order to produce feedback can be various and the result can be very different. It is possible that an in-appropriate feedback will confuse and mislead the student and create a negative results.

Form a list I found online, there are six type of corrective feedbacks that are mostly used in the world now. The six type of feedback is ‘Explicit Corrections, Recast, Clarification request, Metalinguistic clues, Elicitation and Repetition’. (1998) As I remember, ever since we start learning English at elementary school back in Hong Kong which we call it primary school, teacher was using Explicit Corrections all the time. The reason of that is our level on the language is too low which we barely can fix our own errors. Most of the time we will have pronunciation errors which is hard to correct by most of the types I mentioned except recast and explicit corrections. I guess the teacher chose explicit corrections because they want us to practice as much as we can. The reason is we will not practice it outside the classroom since we live in a non-English base society.

In my opinion, the best way to give out corrective feedback using the 6type of Meta will be the combination of metalinguistic, repetition and explicit correction. Even though the paper state that if a student can figure out the answer without any help, it will result the best. I still think that with the right explanation and to let them hear their own answer from someone else will build the deepest memory, so they have the trigger to recall what they made wrong last time and how to remember the right answer. And explicit correction is for those people like my primary school that need more than a push.

Lyster, R., & Ranta, L. (1997). Corrective Feedback And Learner Uptake. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, (28), 37-66.

Tedick, D. and Gortari, B. (1998). Research on Error Correction and Implications for Classroom Teaching. The Bridge, ACIE Newsletter. Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, University of Minnesota, v1. [Online] http://www.carla.umn.edu/immersion/acie/vol1/May1998.pdf

Digital learning

This week we read about how technology really changed our world today. Ever since the internet became popular, there is a whole new method of learning came out to the world. The power of internet and technology is really amazing.

Before the internet came out, knowledge can only be transferred through books and words. If there is something you want to know at home, the only way is to ask somebody that you know who will know the answer. However most of the case people just couldn’t get their answers and give up on chasing the answers. However in 1930s, a concept of sharing information pop out, and in the 1990s, an interaction network which is known as the internet, completely changed the concept of learning. (2013) For now, if there is something you want to know, all you need is to go online and search about it. The fact that millions, billions of knowledge from all around the world gathered in one place made this dreamful tools became a real thing.

The main question remains on how the internet can help our language learning. Language learning is one of the hardest category back in the days we didn’t have internet. The reason for that is most people do not have a source of accurate language, for example a native speaker. The internet solved this problem. As you can assess information that is 200 miles apart from you in a sec, we can now gain any resource from any native speaker around the world, as long as they have internet access.  There are hundreds of way you can find a native speaking resources online, for example forums, social networks, public videos. You can even talk to them through voice chat like Skype and Mumble.
Ever since we gain this ability to communicate throughout the world, we started to use it as materials on learning. As Brown mentioned, there are even a kind of learners call Digital learners. (2001) I myself are definitely a digital learners as I find I can learn the best by watching movies and Animes. And it will be very interesting if something like the matrix actually happened in the future.

“Who Invented the Internet?” Ask History. Television Network, 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 9 Apr. 2015. <http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/who-invented-the-internet&gt;.

Brown, J. S. (2001). Learning in the digital age. In The Internet and the University

Consciousness

This week we read about the role of consciousness in language acquisition. Schmidt and many other writers state that people have different, but a mandatory level of consciousness involved in their language or any kind of learning. (1990) We human need to recognize our self that we need to learn this particular word in order to observe the word completely. In other words, if we do not pay attention to it, we will not be able to learn it from random input.

On a paper writ at oxford I found a figure that explain the noticing hypothesis in a graphic way. On the figure, it shows that when there are some sort of input, people will start will noticing the input. After they will operate a comparing and in take those they need to the short-term memory. Then people will integrating the information and move it to the long term memory in order to make output about the same information. (1997)

My own opinion is that people do need their consciousness to process input and produce output. However we human are capable to observe in put till a certain level without any consciousness. For example, the video we watched in class proofed certain point. Those two designers did not pay any attentions on what they have watched inside the cap, however those images were planted in their head. And they were influenced by it while they were requested to do the design. What I thought happened there was that they input of images were observed in a way the two designers didn’t expect, which they do not know they have saw those images consciously. However the reason they can still produce output with those inputs is because it stayed in a miner lever of their mind. However if you ask them something like ‘when did this logo appear in your taxi journey?’ they will not be able to answer it. That is why I think that people can still learn without conscious, but only to a certain level, and they won’t be able to produce academic level work without consciousness.

Schmidt, R. W. (1990). The Role of Consciousness in Second Language Learning. Applied linguistics , 11 (2), 129 – 158.

Ellis, R. (1997). SLA Research and Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Output hypothesis

This week we read out a rather unique idea claimed by Merrill Swain, the output hypothesis. (1995) Swain claim that language learners will notice a specific phrase when they can attach meaning to it. (2007) Which means that it is not necessary to understand the structure and grammar to speak the language. In the same paper, it states that there are three functions in output hypothesis. The first one is “noticing functions”, which is that the learner will understand or know what a phrase means, but he cannot use it to communicate. The second function is “Hypothesis testing functions”, which is that the learner will receive correct comments from a source like first language speaker and keep correcting himself. This is the way for output hypothesis language learner to improve their grammar. The third functions is metalinguistic. It is a function that the language can provide output that he learned through the first two functions. (2007)

To be honest I do not really agree with the output hypotheses.  In my opinion, in order to learn a language, grammar and structure are necessary. In a situation which we can only observer inputs, then output hypothesis might be a good way to lean a language. However when there are choices, I will rather learning both vocabulary and grammar at the same time. The reason to that is learning a language required listening, writing, reading and speaking. And to do those we must start from observing the language from listening. With the functions that output hypothesis, we will only observe a few oven used vocabulary, but if we understand some grammar, we will be able to learn some sentence structure and also able to guess some vocabulary from the same listening resources. For example for functional sword like particles and adjective, language learner might be able to guess just from knowing the structure of the sentence. Which I believe will be better for people learning a second language.

Output hypothesis claims that human can start learning a language only with recognizing a few words. However I think its not a very effective way for second language learner.

Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (1995). Problems in output and the cognitive processes they generate: A step towards second language learning. Applied linguistics, 16(3), 371 – 391

Swain, M. & Deters. P. (2007) “New Mainstream SLA Theory: Expanded and Enriched. Modern Language Journal, 91, 820-836.