Firstly, it is necessary to plan carefully and fully, and to identify the right kinds of aims. Ensure that your source material really does focus on these, and has not been introduced just because you like it. Make sure you have dictionaries and usage sources available. It is important to recognise the problems associated with traditional approaches to translation a solitary, difficult and time-consuming activity using literary texts and find solutions to these, such as ensuring these tasks are short not easy , always working in groups, and maintaining the element of a communication gap where possible.
As the objections above showed, learner perception of this activity is key. It is useful to explain your aims and discuss any concerns that your learners have; many activities use materials that can be generated by learners, which can have positive impact on motivation and dynamics. Avoid activities which require your learners to use their L1 a lot if you don't have a consensus in your class. Think about the possibilities and pitfalls of this kind of work in a multi-lingual group - discussion and comparison of L1 idioms may be very rewarding, for example, but working on a text not.
Think about the different benefits of translation and more specifically L1 - L2 or L2 - L1 work in the context of aims and also of the class profile. If you are struggling to get learners to use L2 in the class, this may not be the best time to do translation work, for example; if you are not confident of your role in an activity where learners translate back into their own L1 or of how they will perceive this kind of work, then don't do it.
Finally, if you have interested learners, encourage them to explore translation further by themselves - it is a fascinating, complex and worthy process. Project work Learners translate the script of a scene from a film, then dub over the scene itself with their new version in the L2.
Conclusion Translation as part of the communicative ELT classroom approach is still a controversial area and one that provokes strong opinions.
If you would like to share your opinions and your approach to the use of translation in the English language classroom, please do sign in and leave a comment below. Need a little more help with your professional development? Find a training course for your needs. I do not advocate oral translation into English as the only or the most important method in learning English grammar, vocabulary and speaking. Of course exercises in listening, speaking and reading in English that also cover English grammar, vocabulary and conversation on various topics belong to major English learning and teaching activities.
But for self-practice of English with self-check oral translation from a foreign language into English is very important for foreign learners of English. Differences between a foreign language and English in grammar, vocabulary and stylistic usage should not be ignored by foreign learners living and learning English in non-English speaking countries to master English thoroughly.
Knowing those differences by foreign learners of English is essential for understanding correct forms, meaning and use of English grammar and for vocabulary usage to reduce making mistakes in English as much as possible, especially in fine tricky points of English grammar, vocabulary and stylistic usage. It is very hard to clearly explain English grammar rules and vocabulary to foreign learners in English. It is much easier and it takes much less time to do that in the native language of foreign learners of English. Oral translation practice should cover English grammar, conversation and vocabulary.
Thematic dialogues, questions and answers on conversation topics, thematic texts informative texts and narrative stories , grammatical usage sentences and sentences with difficult vocabulary on various topics, especially with fixed phrases and idioms can be used in practising English through oral translation from one's native language into English. I understand that going full-on English in the ESL classroom is considered an ideal approach.
However, we cannot run away from the fact that it is quite challenging for L1 language users with limited English use opportunity who are immersed in a context where English is not prevalent. I have personally used the translation approach and I saw the impact on L2 learning and motivation level among students improve.
Here's a simple activity that i have used for a group of L1 speakers who were under Basic English Training for work purposes. They were undertaking a technical vocational program TVET for job placement. They had a basic to low intermediate L2 proficiency. Activities: Round 1 I group students in groups of 4 or 5 depending on classroom size I project on the screen a magazine excerpt or the most current favourite song lyric in L1 Each group must translate the excerpt into L2 in a stipulated time with NO help from Mr.
Google or synonym check on the Word doc Once time is up, Each group puts up their translated work on the wall use manila card or mahjong pape Each group reads out aloud their translation. Then we classroom translation create a Single most-accurate-in-meaning translation and put it up for all to see or copy -For this everyone contributes the closest vocabulary or sentence structure -I guide and correct wherever necessary -I usually allow ss to correct then i step in when necessary Finally i explain why the latest translation as compiled by everyone is most accurate.
This time, Dictionary use is emphasized. I re-cap the previous day's lesson I re-group ss into new groups it is good to reshuffle I assign to each group a brand new excerpt in L1 each group gets an identical excerpt This time, they are to translate in shorter time.
Then, put up, present and discuss. I step in and check for abnormalities if any or consensual understanding. Using this method made L2 English less intimidating or threatening for this group of ss. By translating, they felt that they have some sort of control in language learning because of their proficiency in L1 that is obviously stronger than L2. As the trainer and L2 expert, I may not be as fluent in L1 as they are, therefore ss are made to feel like it is a cooperative learning whereby they teach me the general forms of L1 and i teach them the general rules of L2.
We match the gap through fun activities like role-plays, skits, songs, etc. I do have a solid background in L1 nd L2 btw. It is just the feeling i create for ss that they are better than me in L1 just so they are more involved in the lesson. It works wonderfully when ss are given some form of control or the upper hand in the TL process in ESL contexts. For an alternative view, see the five skills in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
As a now-fluent speaker of Italian, I can say one of my biggest leaps to fluency was in a period where I was regularly involved in translating material from English for Italian friends to read, as well as presenting that material orally at regular intervals. I also had the advantage of patient friends who would correct my errors in construction of Italian expressions, and suggest alternatives where no direct translation existed in the L2.
More and more I had the impression while speaking that one ready-made construction a "chunk", perhaps? I did find on several occcasions, however, that the "chunk" I was uttering got carried away with itself - I would find myself saying things which I hadn't really meant to say, or at least not in that way a weird sensation! An Italian friend of mine and teaching colleague introduced me to the technique of "back translation", a short text from L1 to L2, then left a sufficient time for the L1 original to be forgotten, before being re-translated into the L1 and compared with the original, where differences could be "noticed" and studied.
I try to use this to improve my students' proficiency, and recommend it as an activity which they can do independently. Help Log in Sign up Newsletter. Translation encourages learners to use L1, often for long periods of class time, when the aim of modern teaching is to remove it from the classroom. The skills involved in translation may not be suitable for all kinds of learners. It may, for example, be best for learners who are more analytical or have preferences for verbal-linguistic learning strategies. It may not be suitable either for young learners or lower levels.
Learners may not see the value of translation as an activity to help them learn English, and instead see it as a specialised, and difficult, activity. Translation is a difficult skill which must be done well in order to be productive and rewarding. Learners and teachers not only have to take into account meaning but also a range of other issues, including form, register, style, and idiom.
This is not easy, but too many translation activities rely on it being done well. Teachers Translation activities are tricky to set up and take a lot of preparation, especially anticipating possible problems.
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Translation requires a motivated class. The teacher needs to have a sophisticated knowledge of the L1 and the L1 culture. Without this translation can create more problems than benefits. Positive evidence consists of actual sentences of a language; by hearing 'The cow jumped over the moon' or 'Johnny loves cabbages', the child learns that English has Subject-Verb-Object order. Negative evidence falls into two categories, direct and indirect.
Direct negative evidence consists of corrections of the child's mistakes by adults: 'You mustn't say "you was", Jimmy, you must say "you were" '. Indirect negative evidence is provided by the non-occurrence of something in the language the child hears; the fact he never hears Subject-Object-Verb order is negative evidence that English is a Subject-Verb-Object language. First language acquisition relies chiefly on positive evidence; the child apparently receives little direct negative evidence in the form of correction of syntax Brown and Hanlon The few corrections that occur are largely about dialectal or socially stigmatized forms or socially prescribed politeness formulas, a small fraction of English.
The importance of indirect negative evidence is difficult to assess, since it is clearly impossible to specify everything that the child doesn't hear. Its value, however, depends upon the child already having certain expectations about language that are not fulfilled, in other words it presupposes a Universal Grammar in the child's mind. The whole of Universal Grammar does not manifest itself in the child's speech at the same time.
Language principles that apply to long or complex sentences are needed only when the child has the capacity actually to produce them; the parameters for SVO order, for example, cannot apply when the child says only one word at a time. Although language is a separate mental organ, its development is influenced by other organs. While the claim that cognitive level and short-term memory capacity limit the type of structure that may be employed has always been part of the theory, the version current in the s was sometimes interpreted as claiming that the child's first sentences are closer to Universal Grammar; McNeill, in a typical remark, said, though with qualifications, 'Early speech is supposedly free of transformations and therefore should be a direct manifestation of children's capacities' McNeill In the theory, however, the language principles that are present manifest themselves in accordance with the child's capacity to process information, and other maturational factors; the child cannot reveal all he knows about language, because of his other limitations.
Sequence of development reveals more about other cognitive systems than about language acquisition: '. So far as acquisition is concerned, the interim developing grammars of the child are irrelevant. It is nevertheless an open question in terms of development whether the child starts with all the principles of Universal Grammar available, or whether they gradually unfold as part of maturation: evidence to distinguish principles that are present but cannot be revealed from those that are absent is hard to conceive.
If Universal Grammar is present in toto from the beginning, all human languages should conform to the language principles, whether the stable grammars of adults or the temporary grammars of learners: 'A grammar. On this assumption, while many principles are missing from the interim grammar, the rules that are present do not break them. Let us now try to specify what the theory is actually dealing with.
It contrasts grammatical competence with pragmatic competence rather than communicative competence, since there are many uses of languages other than communication: 'either we must deprive the notion "communication" of all significance, or else we must reject the view that the purpose of language is communication' Chomsky Secondly, for those familiar with earlier versions it is plain that rules play a much less central role.
Chomsky shows elegantly how rules are in fact consequences of principles of Universal Grammar and of the way in which particular parameters are set. A grammar consists of a specification of the values of parameters, which may be represented as rules, but these are of secondary importance. Thirdly, a new distinction separates core grammar those parts of the language that have 'grown' in the child through the interaction of Universal Grammar with the relevant language environment from peripheral grammar the parts outside the core.
Any particular language such as English contains elements that are derived from its history the structure of 'the more the merrier', for instance, comes from Old English , that are borrowed from other languages the pronunciation of 'police' shows it is a late borrowing from French , or that have been added to it by other accidental processes 'the dreaded lurgy' entered British English and became a children's game because of a radio programme ; these do not reflect the principles of Universal Grammar in the same way as the core:' While some aspects of an individual's grammar come from Universal Grammar, others are influenced by other factors.
Let us now see what this means for learning. By using the same language principles, a French child constructs a grammar of French, an English child a grammar of English. The two grammars represent different choices within the guidelines set by Universal Grammar, different applications of the same linguistic principles in response to different environments; 'Experience is necessary to fix the parameters of core grammar' Chomsky a: 8. But the children also have to learn aspects of language that are peripheral, that do not conform to Universal Grammar.
The child's mind 'prefers' to adopt rules based on the handy set of principles with which it is equipped; they are in a sense the easy way out, and need only triggering experience to be learnt. By listening to the language around him, he can decide how to fix the parameter of sentence order as SVO or SOV, for instance.
His mind 'prefers' not to adopt peripheral solutions, as they fall outside his pre-programmed instructions; they are more demanding. This may be interpreted through the concept of markedness: the child prefers to learn 'unmarked' knowledge that conforms to Universal Grammar, rather than 'marked' knowledge that is less compatible with it.
Core grammar and peripheral grammar are weighted differently in the child's mind. Chomsky sees peripheral learning as systematic and related to core learning; 'there should be further structure to the system outside of core grammar. We might expect that the structure of these further systems relates to the theory of core grammar by such devices as relaxing certain conditions of core grammar, processes of analogy in some sense to be made precise, and so on, though there will presumably be independent structure as well' Chomsky a: 8.
Hence we may expect to find a continuum of markedness from core to periphery. The distinction does not, however, entail that core unmarked grammar is necessarily learnt first. Sequence of development again is an unreliable guide to acquisition. Though not part of the theory itself, earlier versions were often associated with the notion of language acquisition as hypothesis testing.
It is important, however, to define the sense in which hypothesis testing is acceptable. One interpretation has been that the child creates a hypothesis about the grammar more or less at random; he produces sentences according to his hypothesis, and the feedback he receives from the situation tells him whether or not it is correct.
In this sense, hypothesis testing has never recovered from the blow administered to it by Martin Braine, who argued that it required negative as well as positive evidence to be successful Braine ; Baker ; the child cannot discover if his hypothesis is right or wrong if he is not told when he makes mistakes. But, as we have seen, it is widely accepted that correction is infrequent; the child does not meet enough negative evidence to reject incorrect hypotheses.
Nor does he produce enough incorrect sentences to test out hypotheses adequately; while at the earliest stages it could be said that the child's sentences are incorrect, after, say, the age of four, though the child's language lacks many structures, it is by and large grammatical. The lack of negative evidence and of incorrect sentences shows the inadequacy of hypothesis testing through feedback from outside.
Universal Grammar allows different core grammars in different languages; the child has several initial hypotheses to choose from, several parameters to fix; his internal Universal Grammar severely restricts the range of hypotheses he can entertain, the final choice depending upon evidence from the environment. Hypothesis testing is a possible explanation for language acquisition, in the sense that the child chooses from the limited number of possibilities provided by Universal Grammar in accordance with the evidence he meets.
Let us try to summarize the roles of the environment and of cognition within the theory, two threads that have run through the discussion. First, so far as the environment is concerned, Chomsky has been at pains to point out that all learning involves inherent properties of the child's mind: 'Every "theory of learning" that is even worth considering incorporates an innateness hypothesis' Chomsky Even behaviourism attributes to the child an ability to form associations of stimulus and response.
All learning theories are therefore interactionist in that they have to take into account both the learner and the situation; to quote Martin Buber in a rather different context, 'Meaning is not in us or in things, but between us and things it can happen'. Theories differ in how they strike the balance between person and situation, Chomsky coming down heavily at the learner end, behaviourism at the situational end. Chomsky's theory assigns a precise role to the environment: negatively it denies that it provides sufficient evidence for the learning of particular aspects of linguistic knowledge without the aid of a powerful in-built grammar; positively it suggests the environment provides positive evidence to help the learner fix the ways in which Universal Grammar applies to the language he is learning.
Universal Grammar makes certain things obligatory in any grammar; others it leaves free to vary within pre-set limits; the environment provides evidence about the particular limits that apply in a given case. But experience determines that in English, infinitival clauses use the form to-Verb and may have the complementiser for rather than that or that buy and play are associated with concepts of the conceptual system as they are' Chomsky b: One of the implications of the theory, therefore, is a shift in the balance of what is learnt from grammar to lexis.
Much grammatical knowledge simply needs fixing though evidence from the environment. What does need learning is how particular lexical items can enter into various structures. The role of cognition is complex. There are two senses in which cognition is involved; one is the development of overall levels of thinking, the stages of cognitive development familiar from Piaget or Bruner; the other is the systems of information processing involved in handling language, which can be called channel capacity.
So far as acquisition is concerned, the mental faculty of language does not need to be related to other faculties of the mind, as for instance Piagetans would claim that language presupposes certain cognitive operations Sinclair-de-Zwart So far as development is concerned, language is bound up with other elements of cognitive maturation.
Partly, however, as we have seen, language development interacts with cognition in that certain language principles cannot be deployed until the child has developed the channel capacity to handle them. So, for instance, short-term memory may be vitally important to development, because the length of sentence that can be uttered limits the principles that can be employed. Although language is an independent mental organ, in development it nevertheless needs to draw on other mental organs. Indeed, the same argument applies to physical organs: phonological development may be affected by the myelinization of the nervous system, which gradually allows more complex signals to be transmitted Lecours ; the growth of gyrus granule cells in the hippocampal area of the brain may allow the child to attain a particular cognitive level at the age of about five Rose Neither of these physical changes affects acquisition itself, but may have profound effects on language development.
Thus certain aspects of cognitive and physical development can influence the order in which a child develops language. As the purpose of this section has been to present the theory as a whole in order to bring out its implications for L2 learning, it is not the place to evaluate it or to discuss the acquisition research carried out within the theory reported in Tavakolian and Goodluck and Solan A criticism that is often voiced is its abstraction from the everyday world. Competence is separated from performance, grammatical competence from pragmatic competence, acquisition from development, core from peripheral grammar, each removing something from actual language use: 'To discover the properties of UG and core grammar we must attempt to abstract away from complicating factors of various sorts, a course that has its hazards but is inescapable in serious inquiry, in linguistics no less than in other domains' Chomsky b: Some people would dispute whether such abstraction is valid; has the baby been thrown out with the bathwater?
Bresnan and Kaplan claim, for instance, 'there is a scientific responsibility to show that the real does asymptotically approach the ideal under certain circumstances', a responsibility not shouldered by the present theory. Its power depends instead on the argument from the poverty of the stimulus that speakers know things they could not have learnt. Can a single paradoxical argument bear the weight that is put upon it?
Chomsky himself insists that the argument of the poverty of the stimulus is not peculiar to linguistics, but part of all sciences concerned with development; it is so obviously true that birds do not 'learn' to have wings that people do not see that the same argument is involved. Moreover, Feyerabend has argued that science proceeds not through theory formulation and testing, but through the presentation of new ways of arguing, which he terms 'propaganda' Feyerabend Thus Galileo's theory of relative motion relied not on actual evidence, but on an argument about an artist drawing on a ship in motion.
The Chomskyan argument is in the same tradition, the presentation of an argument that is no more unrelated to what it is trying to explain than that advanced by Galileo. The relevance of the theory to L2 learning depends not so much on the uncertain analogy to LI learning as on the original conundrum of the poverty of the stimulus: how can a speaker of a second language know things he could not have learnt from the language he has encountered? The answer to the conundrum is once again that the L2 learner's knowledge derives from some property of the mind.
However, while the conclusion is the same as in first language acquisition, it may have a different explanation, in as much as the minds of L2 learners or the situations have different properties. The most obviously different property is that the L2 learner possesses a grammar of a first language incorporating the principles of Universal Grammar and specifying a particular set of values for its parameters.
Two possibilities for L2 learning need to be considered: the learner might have access to Universal Grammar either directly or indirectly through the first language. So far as the principles of Universal Grammar are concerned, the question amounts to asking whether L2 grammars are constrained in the same way as LI grammars. Schmidt showed that a group of L2 learners of English produced only natural surface orders such as 'John sang a song and played the guitar' or 'John plays the. The notion of parameter-fixing can formulate the relationship between first and second language learning in a more precise way.
To take a specific example, if Universal Grammar is directly accessible to the L2 learner, it should not affect a Spanish learner of English that the two languages have fixed the pro-drop parameter differently; lie simply needs the proper triggers to fix it anew. However, if it is not directly accessible, he can approach English only through the value of the parameter for Spanish. The question of whether L2 learning recapitulates LI learning can be narrowed down to considering whether L2 learners' grammars reflect the principles of Universal Grammar, and whether parameters are still free to be fixed in a second language from triggering evidence.
There is, however, a third possibility: in some sense the L2 learner might be cut off from Universal Grammar after a certain age. Lenneberg's Critical Period Hypothesis, henceforward CPH, set the limits for LI acquisition between the ages of two, before which the child is too immature physically, and twelve, after which the brain is too inflexible Lenneberg Although Chomsky wrote of it approvingly in 'Aspects' Chomsky , the CPH has not been discussed within the current framework.
Presumably it would mean that after a particular age, the principles and parameters of Universal Grammar are no longer directly accessible to the learner; the older L2 learner has no option but to work through his L1 or through a non-language faculty. One reason for the lack of discussion of the CPH in the current theory may be that it is concerned with physical or cognitive maturation, that is to say, development; acquisition does not by definition take account of maturational factors. It has always been difficult to reconcile the CPH with successful L2 learning after the critical period.
It has usually been salvaged by arguing that the first language acts as a mediator to Universal Grammar; the fact that a person over forty can learn to communicate in a foreign language 'does not trouble our basic assumption on age limitations because we may assume that the cerebral organisation for language learning as such has taken place during childhood, and since natural languages tend to resemble each other in many fundamental aspects,. In the current theory, mediation would be successful if the values of parameters were the same in the two languages; if the learner has been cut off from Universal Grammar, it is hard to see how he can retrieve the original parameters to fix their values differently in the second language.
Evidence for the CPH in relation to L2 learning has been widely discussed by, inter alia, McLaughlin , and Paivio and Begg ; the usual conclusion is that it is disconfirmed by evidence that adults and older children are better than younger children at L2 learning when the circumstances are the same, e. Asher and Price and Ekstrand , and that there are not the expected differences between children acquiring their first language and adults acquiring their second when situational and other accidental factors are discounted.
Within the present theory, the evidence from Ritchie and Schmidt suggests that a strong form of the hypothesis is not tenable, as learners after the critical period demonstrate they have access to at least some of the principles of Universal Grammar. The answer to the conundrum may, however, be caused by differences in the environment; the L2 learner might know things he could not apparently have learnt because the situation supplies him with special types of evidence either not available to the native child or not usable by him.
The kinds of evidence that an L2 learner encounters probably depend more on the type of situation than for the native child, particularly whether it is a 'natural' informal situation such as an immigrant using the language for everyday purposes, or an 'artificial' formal situation such as a classroom. In the natural setting one may assume that L2 learners probably meet positive and negative evidence in more or less the same proportions as native children; they also meet language modified by native speakers to their communication needs.
One suspects, however, that correction is less likely with foreign adults, since it is more rude to correct an adult than a child. In the classroom setting on the other hand, direct negative evidence sometimes looms larger, since some teachers provide frequent and systematic correction, at least on a surface syntactic level. Older classroom learners may also encounter what can be called explanatory evidence, that is to say, explanations of the grammatical rules of the language. The role of cognition is also different in L2 acquisition, since the learner is not necessarily subject to the same maturational constraints.
Let us first consider this in terms of cognitive levels. To study L2 learning in adults is in a sense to study language acquisition divorced from maturation, as Gass and Ard have argued Gass and Ard Thus the 'natural' order of L2 development Krashen is perhaps closer to acquisition than is LI development; it differs from LI development wherever the LI has, so to speak, been held up for lack of cognitive maturity or channel capacity. Gass and Ard suggest that children's order of acquisition of relative clauses follows their cognitive development, while the order of acquisition by L2 learners reflects a principle of accessibility; the L2 learner's development tells us more of acquisition than the native child's.
While the formula that L2 learning equals acquisition is attractive, it rests upon the assumption that the channel capacity for language use depends upon maturation and does not need to be re-acquired in a second language. However, some aspects of channel capacity are not transferred to a second language, i. In contrast to Gass and Ard's work it has been suggested, for example, that English relative clauses require a certain capacity of speech processing memory in the listener, gained by the native child around the age of seven; the foreign learner does not start from an adult position, but has to reacquire this channel capacity in the new language Cook Similarly, some language-related aspects of memory such as rehearsal strategies and short-term memory capacity are substantially transferred to a second language Cook , others such as the clustering of vocabulary are not Cook To say that L2 development is acquisition minus maturation is not the same as saying it is acquisition minus limitations upon channel capacity; L2 development is still affected by cognitive factors.
Adverb function: The most common use of an adverb, of course, is to describe verbs: He ran quickly. We may either analyse long structures and find the smaller elements in them or think of how smaller elements are combined to form longer structures. Get A Copy. Thus Galileo's theory of relative motion relied not on actual evidence, but on an argument about an artist drawing on a ship in motion. Roca, T. Without them it is impossible to put sentences together.
The problem is discovering which cognitive processes need to be re-established in a second language, which can be transferred. An overall conclusion for L2 learning research is that development is not necessarily reliable evidence for acquisition in a second language: the L2 sequence of development may reflect the re-establishing of 'channel capacity' for using the language, rather than language acquisition per se.
Statements about sheer order of acquisition need support from accounts of the interrelationship between development, channel capacity, and other cognitive processes, before they can be considered valid for L2 acquisition or compared to LI acquisition. Hence the discovery of a common acquisition sequence for L2 learners, which has been hailed as 'surely one of the most exciting and significant outcomes of the last decade of second language acquisition research' Burt and Dulay , must be seen as a first step in the description of development and incidentally based largely on the presence or absence of a few surface syntactic features, rather than on underlying linguistic principles ; it can say little about acquisition until the order has been shown to be the product of language acquisition itself, rather than channel capacity.
A related question is the concept of markedness in L2 learning, reviewed in Rutherford Within the current theory, unmarked aspects of grammar are those that are directly related to Universal Grammar and form the 'core'; marked aspects are less directly related to Universal Grammar and form 'peripheral' grammar; thus markedness reflects the degree to which something is related to Universal Grammar, and consequently the degree to which it is learnable by the child from inbuilt principles.
One use of markedness within L2 research has been in connection with the Accessibility Hierarchy Keenan , which postulates a continuum going from rules that are most accessible and hence most widespread in human languages and most easily learnt, to those that are least accessible, found more rarely- in the world's languages, and learnt with more difficulty. The most often cited example is relative clauses; clauses based on a Subject relationship, e. Eckmann argues that a comparison of the target and mother languages predicts that learners should find the most difficulty with those aspects of the L2 that are more marked in terms of accessibility than the L1.
Cook found certain similarities to the Accessibility Hierarchy in L1 and L2 learners of English, as did Gass , although some differences emerged. The acquisition of relative clauses has also been studied within the framework of the present theory by Liceras in terms of the markedness of 'filters', and by Flynn in terms of the 'right branching principle'.
It is unclear precisely how the Accessibility Hierarchy is to be handled within the present theory; it could be interpreted as a continuum from unmarked core grammar to marked peripheral grammar. The evidence of Eckmann and Gass none the less suggests that the L2 learner operates with a concept of markedness based on closeness to the principles of Universal Grammar. White has developed this notion in terms of the relative markedness of different settings of a parameter White Her example is the comparative restrictiveness of movement rules in English compared to French technically S is a bounding category in English, but not French ; the English setting for the parameter is less marked.
Consequently French learners of English are likely to have particular problems with movement in English, since they are moving from a language with a more marked setting to one with a less marked. It should be pointed out, however, that markedness is used in other senses to the one found here, to refer to grammatical complexity, for example, as in some of the sources cited by Rutherford , or to preferences for particular meanings of words, as in Kellerman Also the present theory does not assume that markedness is directly reflected in order of development, even if this additional assumption is made by many first and second language researchers.
Though there is some plausibility in feeling that 'natural' unmarked forms should be learnt before those that are 'unnatural' and marked, features of channel capacity, etc. However crucial to acquisition, the actual sequence of development disguises markedness in many ways. We have seen earlier that one interpretation of the theory is that not only the final grammar of competence is governed by Universal Grammar, but also all the interim grammars that the child goes through en route to adult competence White Consequently, interlanguage as a human language must fit in with Universal Grammar.
The studies by Schmidt and Ritchie cited earlier show that interlanguages reflect principles of surface order and of movement, and hence demonstrate their subjection to Universal Grammar. Interlanguages should be considered no more deviant than ordinary grammars; they too are based on the properties of the human mind.
Error Analysis based on the interlanguage hypothesis has therefore two new factors to take into account: one that interlanguages incorporate universal principles, the other that errors may be the result of channel capacity rather than of acquisition per se. One conceptual problem, however, is that L2 learning is seldom complete, in that few learners ever approximate to native competence; all their grammars are interlanguages.
Hence the instantaneous acquisition model is difficult to apply, because there is no settled final competence, no 'steady state' grammar. The concept of L2 learning as hypothesis testing is fundamentally affected by the theory. It has often been suggested that L2 learning is a process in which the learner creates interim guesses about the language which he tries out to see whether they are right or wrong and reformulates them if necessary Cook ; Ellis, for instance, claims 'The principal tenet of IL theory, that the learner constructs for himself a series of hypotheses about the grammar of the language and consciously or unconsciously tests these out in formal or informal learning contexts, has withstood the test of both speculation and considerable empirical research' Ellis The arguments against hypothesis testing that were raised earlier are equally true of L2 learning.
In the natural environment, or a classroom that simulates a natural environment, the learner encounters only positive evidence, and does not get enough negative evidence to confirm or disconfirm his hypotheses. On the other hand, the learner in a classroom or other artificial setting may receive direct negative evidence or have access to explanatory data; he might therefore receive enough non-primary evidence for hypothesis testing to be feasible.
But this leads to an odd paradox: hypothesis testing by feedback has usually been claimed to be the 'natural' informal way of learning a second language, the provision of correction and explanation an 'unnatural' formal way.
Hence L2 learning research has to be cautious in its support of hypothesis testing. It is acceptable only in the sense that the learner checks positive evidence against the limited set of hypotheses provided by his Universal Grammar. The role of Contrastive Analysis is also very different in the theory.
Rather than being compared directly, two languages may be compared indirectly through the ways in which they embody the same linguistic principle while fixing parameters differently. Thus English is related to German through the slightly different ways in which it fixes sentence order. Structural comparison is a matter not of actual rules, but of the way in which the rules exploit the same underlying resources.
The concept of core and periphery implies that this type of comparison must be supplemented by an account of how the two grammars deviate from core grammar for whatever reason. Thus, while English and French can be found to be similar in terms of the core parameter of sentence order, the account of their relationship also needs to take in the more peripheral rule that auxiliaries precede the Subject in certain types of question.
At the core, the theory provides a common measuring stick for two grammars; as we move to the periphery, the stick becomes less appropriate and more attention has to be paid to other factors than Universal Grammar. A further relevant point is the distinction between development and acquisition; classical CA compared the two final steady-state grammars, i.
As Zobl has suggested, it may be fruitful to relate CA instead to development; 'it is paramount that the role of prior LI knowledge be conceptualised as a variable which may introduce variation into a developmental sequence' Zobl To sum up, the hypothetical picture of L2 learning that emerges is that the learner contributes a set of language principles and unfixed parameters; the evidence he encounters enables him to fix the parameters into a new grammar.
While his first language affects his acquisition, it cannot help him acquire those parts of grammar that vary from one language to another. He also encounters evidence that does not fit Universal Grammar, for which he has to adopt more marked solutions. His environment, though different from the LI child's in some respects and subject to greater variation, does not provide him with any way out of the problem of the poverty of the stimulus. Because of his greater maturity, he does not have the same restrictions as the native child; in terms of cognitive level, but not of channel capacity, his development shows acquisition more closely than first language acquisition.
How could this position be shown to be correct? Another is to show that interlanguages always reflect Universal Grammar, as Ritchie and Schmidt suggest Schmidt ; Ritchie A third is to see whether L2 development shows characteristic differences from LI development so far as the absence of maturation is concerned, as argued in Gass and Ard But far more detailed and wide-ranging research is needed to show that there is real substance to this picture.
Even if it is rejected, L2 learning research still has to defend its use of the concepts of hypothesis testing, sequence of development, and interlanguage, which are no longer compatible with the theory of Universal Grammar, either by severing its links with first language acquisition theory or by rethinking its ideas accordingly. At the moment a long and treacherous route connects the theory with language teaching.
On the negative side it removes some of the justifications for language teaching techniques claimed to be derived from earlier versions of the theory. It has often been suggested that students should be actively encouraged to try out their interim hypotheses in teaching situations so that they can use feedback to determine whether they are right Cook Communication games, for example, have been justified on the grounds that they put the learner in a communicative situation where he gets instant feedback.
Allwright argues that 'The success or failure of successive attempts to communicate in such tasks provides automatically G2 and G3 "cues" and simple knowledge of results from which the learners can infer the characteristics of the target language. The new version also is not sympathetic towards the primacy of communication in language learning, one of the tenets of communicative methodology.
In many ways the current theory seems closer to the humanistic trend in language teaching, with its emphasis on the value of the foreign language to the student's multi-faceted personal growth as described in Stevick The role attributed to the environment is also very different from that assumed in recent language teaching which has emphasized the importance of the language the students hear, whether in terms of the syllabus, the types of activity carried out in the classroom, or the provision of meaningful input Krashen ; in the theory the environment only provides triggers.