An evaluation of second language acquisition in postmodern era

Selma Koyuncu

ecological perspective, individual differences


On looking back the history of second language learning (SLA), one can clearly see the shift beginning from structural approaches to cognitive, naturalist, socio-cultural, communicative approaches, then contextualized and much later ecological ones. Although each approach comes out by criticizing the previous one/ones in different fields, they are just like a complement of each other in terms of SLA. To illustrate, cognitivists criticizes structuralism in that structural linguists see the language as only a linear, systematic system in which teaching takes place in forming habits through pre-selected, pre-sequenced linguistic forms. What cognitive linguists believe that learning a language cannot be limited to what is taught as linguistic forms since learners can create infinite number of sentences using finite rules of grammar and they add there should be something which helps learners to use the second language (L2) cognitively. It is sure that language cannot be regarded without linguistic forms and may need explicit explanation with a continual and conscious attention until it becomes automatic as structural linguists have suggested. In addition, being able to understand mental procedure happening during language learning provides learners to become more aware of their own learning process and benefit from whenever it is needed as cognitivists have mentioned. Just like in this example, the new perspective meets the deficit of the previous one. By the time SLA reaches its postmodern era, each forthcoming approach, technique, method, or procedure brings a new look to language itself, to language learning, and to second language learning via complementing a part which has not been considered before. In this case, it is certain that we can expect the newest approach is the most complex and the most inclusive of all. Despite the fact that postmodernism brings a broader viewpoint to SLA, there are some assumptions which are still fresh to debate. This paper aims to explain the significance of individual variability in L2 as a central construct and whether the experiences in physical and social world support language learning or not.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies