The Relationship of Thinking to SLA
Outline for Question #1 (Summarize and refute 3 arguments that indicate cognition as impeding SLA)
a. Examples of Non-cognitive learning skills (motivation, self-efficacy, self-regulated learning, and others).
b. Debate of no cognition vs. cognition in SLA
c. Briefly introduce three arguments that oppose thinking
II. First argument: over-analysis
a. “When teaching in an EFL context, speaking practice is the quickest and most effective way to learn a language (Berlitz, as cited in Aubrey, 2009, pp. 35-36).
b. This means that second language learners learn faster when they just go ahead and speak, without thinking too much about the correctness of their speech.
c. Over-analyzing what they say can lead to an overload of their cognitive resources and can make them feel less confident about speaking; hence, leading to less practice in the use of the second language.
III. Refute of over-analysis
a. Frequent practice of the second language without being mindful of the correctness of speech can result in the reduced quality of the second language learning.
b. Not correcting grammatical and syntactical errors from the start can result in other errors that may be harder to correct later on.
c. As such, the acquisition of the second language is not complete.
IV. Second argument: brain plasticity (Critical Period Hypothesis)
a. The Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) “’states that for language acquisition, [. . .], there is a critical period during which it is possible to achieve the same level as natives” (Du, 2010).
b. After this period, one’s ability to learn a language is reduced or becomes slower.
c. This implies that the attainment level in SLA is largely determined by the age when the learner was first exposed to the second language.
V. Refute to brain plasticity
a. There are still many adult earners who are able to learn a second language at a high level despite their age.
b. This may mean that CPH does not apply to all learners at a fixed age or to all learners regardless of their environments.
c. This may also imply that successful adult second language learners have used learning strategies that other adult second language learners fail to employ.
VI. Third argument: L1 learning styles
a. “L2 writers faced with writing tasks requiring an L2 proficiency level [. . .] do not transfer L1 strategies to the L2 writing process, even though the writer may have a multiplicity of strategies available when completing the same task in the L1” (Wolfsberger, 2003).
b. This implies that not all learning styles that were used for acquiring the first language can be used for the second language.
c. This also implies that compensating strategies must be used in order to enable the transfer of L1 strategies to L2.
VII. Refute of L1 learning styles
a. It is natural for learners to use the learning styles that they’re already familiar with.
b. After all, many of the L1 learning processes would be similar to the L2 learning processes.
c. Adapting new learning styles can add more burden to the learner and further prolong the acquisition of the second language.
a. Although thinking contributes in some ways to second language learning, it is not enough on its own to successfully enable second language learning.
b. Learners have different cognitive capabilities and learning styles.
c. It is then important for second language learners to employ various types of learning strategies aside from the cognitive learning strategies.
Outline for Question #2 (Summarize and refute 3 arguments that support cognition in SLA)
a. Thinking defined as a mental or cognitive process
b. Debate of cognition vs. no cognition in SLA
c. Briefly introduce three arguments that support thinking
II. First argument: self correction
a. “EFL learners at any proficiency level seem to correct themselves when noticing a mistake, that is even if they are starters, they first rely on themselves and then on the teacher or classmates” (Pishghadam et al., 2011, p. 960).
b. This is connected to learner autonomy.
c. It also prevents embarrassment on the part of the student.
III. Refute of self-correction
a. Not everybody would be motivated or would have the initiative to correct themselves.
b. For some learners, it may be enough that their ideas are understood.
c. They may not see the value in correcting themselves or in perfecting their use of the second language.
IV. Second argument: cognitive learning strategies
a. “Language learning strategies are specific actions, behaviors, steps, or techniques that students (often intentionally) use to improve their progress in developing second language skills” (Dakun, 2006, p. 73).
b. These strategies can be used for internalizing, storing, retrieving, or using a new language.
c. They consist of cognitive skills or processes of the mind that the learner uses to enhance understanding or learning.
V. Refute of cognitive learning strategies
a. Not everybody has the same cognitive capabilities.
b. Not everyone is motivated to use and develop their cognitive skills for the sake of learning a new language.
c. Cognitive strategies may not be effective or useful for everyone.
VI. Third argument: prior knowledge
a. Background knowledge among adult first and second-language reading learners proved to be a “stronger determining factor than the semantic and syntactic complexity of the text” (Droop & Verhoeven, 1998, p. 267).
b. Background knowledge, particularly on the culture around the second language, affects comprehension.
c. It also affects the reading efficiency of learners developing literacy in a second language.
VII. Refute of prior knowledge
a. The development of prior knowledge takes a lot of time.
b. Opportunities for developing enough prior knowledge for the SLA initiative may not always be available.
c. It may be difficult to find resources, such as people or relationships, text, and time that will enable the development of such prior knowledge.
a. Thinking is the natural way by which we learn.
b. There are various types of cognitive learning strategies that can be used for SLA.
c. Since learners have different abilities and learning styles, it would be best for second language learners to employ various types of cognitive learning strategies.
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Pishghadam, R., Hashemi, M. R. & Kermanshahi, P. N. (2011, September). Self-correction
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