Adult Second Language Acquisition and Universal Grammar Proposal

October 23, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and Universal Grammar (UG) were studied by various scholars, yet some controversial issues remain. The cognitive systems of an adult learner (L2) operate based on the three key components the first of which is the external data that people receive from the outside world. The second implies some inherent knowledge – the so-called tool that converts the external data into experience, and the third one is focused on the broader outside context (Dąbrowska 8). The second component can be considered as UG – a theory of language that offers a system of principles and parameters of a certain language (Hadavi and Ghashang 843). In other words, UG is a set of categories that manifests itself without being taught due to its inherent nature.

SLA refers to the learning of the second language that is not native for a learner. According to Simoiu, a language is a part of the natural world, and the grammar of a particular language acts as a theory of this language (26). There are several hypotheses related to the availability level of UG in SLA. For example, no access hypothesis implies that adult learners have no access to UG due to their age and the non-linguistic way of SLA (Yin and Kaiser 455). On the contrary, the full access hypothesis states that UG is completely available for L2 learners as they integrate both lexical and functional aspects in their learning (VanPatten and Williams 34). The availability of UG is also discussed in the article by Farahani et al. (298). In particular, it is stated that UG plays an integral role in SLA, especially in partial and full access positions.

The way the L2 learners acquire a new language depends not only on the availability of UG but also on their peculiarities. The idea of diversity is developed by Saville-Troike who states that SLA may occur in different contexts (5). For example, adults may learn at work, at home, somewhere abroad, or in any other context. At this point, different factors affect SLA effectiveness, depending on a certain learning environment. Discussing the theory by Chomsky, Hulin and Na suggest that a human language consists of an infinite set of interpretive expressions each of which is associated with such systems as sensory-motor, conceptual, mental, and so on (2). The connection of language with the sensory-motor system helps learners to communicate with others, grabbing their attention, and acquiring necessary information.

Furthermore, elaborating on the ideas expressed by Chomsky, Menezes argues that they are rather important in understanding the role of UG in SLA (402). More precisely, the author provides convincing arguments, claiming that such theories as behaviorism and some others should not be excluded from linguistics interpretation. Instead, they are to be taken into account and accurately explored, thus leading to the reconciling of traditional and modern theories. To prove her assumptions, Menezes discovers the perceptions of L2 learners and concludes that SLA is a complex and rather volatile system. In her turn, Hummel reflects on practices and perspectives in SLA (77). The author claims that the study of neurolinguistic and psycholinguistic categories and constructions can significantly improve the understanding of an adult SLA and UG phenomenon. As a result, the comprehension of the above issues is likely to lead to enhanced and faster SLA in adults.

Works Cited

Dąbrowska, Ewa. “What Exactly is Universal Grammar, and Has Anyone Seen It?” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 6, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1–17.

Farahani, Ali Akbar Khomeijani, et al. “Access to Universal Grammar in Adult Second Language Acquisition.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 136, no. 9, 2014, pp. 298–301.

Hadavi, Melika, and Maryam Ghashang. “The Nature of Accessibility to Universal Grammar by EFL Learners.” Journal of Language Teaching and Research, vol. 6, no. 4, 2015, pp. 842–846.

Hulin, Ren, and Xu Na. “A Study of Chomsky’s Universal Grammar in Second Language Acquisition.” International Journal on Studies in English Language and Literature, vol. 2, no. 12, 2014, pp. 1–7.

Hummel, Kirsten M. Introducing Second Language Acquisition: Perspectives and Practices. Wiiley & Sons , 2014.

Menezes, Vera. “Second Language Acquisition: Reconciling Theories.” Open Journal of Applied Sciences, vol. 3, no. 7, 2013, pp. 404–412.

Saville-Troike, Muriel. Introducing Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Simoiu, Adela. The Split IP Parameter in Second Language Learning. Cambridge Scholars, 2014.

VanPatten, Bill, and Jessica Williams. Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction. Routledge, 2015.

Yin, Bin, and Elsi Kaiser. “Second Language Learners’ Knowledge of Syntax in the Acquisition of Aspectual Semantics.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 97, no. 6, 2013, pp. 454–463.

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