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How Languages Are Learned
by Patsy M. Lightbown
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Main textbook in my Acquisition of English as a Second Language class for my TESL BA.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in both L1 and L2 learning. This is a fantastic introduction to both aspects of language learning. I haven't read prior versions, so I can't compare, but the organization in this edition is logical and easy to follow. The book itself seems a bit short for a textbook, but I found it to be a thorough introduction to language acquisition when combined with "Language Development" by Hoff.
Excellent book. Had to read it for an ESL course, but would re-read it just because I found it so interesing and informative.
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Written by experienced teacher trainers and language learning experts, Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada, How Languages Are Learned relates the theories of first and second language acquisition to what actually goes on in the classroom. It uses activities to explore the practical implications of the ideas presented. Evaluations and case studies are included throughout the book so that you can see a practical context for the research ideas you are reading about. Many of these examples are taken directly from real second language classrooms. Now in its 4th edition, How Languages Are Learned is highly valued for the way it relates language acquisition theory to classroom teaching and learning and draws practical implications from research for the language classroom. It is widely used as a reference book on teacher training courses, and is for new and experienced practising teachers.New to This Edition:Updated to reflect the most recent research in the field of second language teaching and learning Activities and Questions for Reflection personalise content and support critical thinkingExtra activities, study questions and videos available onlineNow also available as an eBook from Amazon, Kobo and iBookstore
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)401.93 — Language Language Philosophy and theory Psychological principles, language acquisition, speech perception, evolutionary psychology of language Language acquisition
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A textbook mainly for language teachers (which I am not), from which I got two interesting things. The first is that it's amazing how little we actually know. Even the apparently obvious point that children find it easier to learn languages is only weakly backed up by research. There's obviously a big difference between learning your first language (or languages) and learning another after you can already talk. But I didn't feel that researchers had got much beyond accumulating data.
The second point is that one of the things that is known is that some grammatical elements are easier to learn than others. Take this list of English grammar points:
present progressive –ing (Mommy running)
plural –s (Two books)
irregular past forms (Baby went)
possessive 's (Daddy's hat)
copula (Annie is happy)
articles the and a
regular past –ed (She walked)
Third person singular simple present –s (She runs)
Auxiliary be (He is coming)
Apparently a child who has learnt the lower items is sure to have also managed the upper ones, but the reverse is not true. (Slightly odd that irregular past tense should be learned before regular past tense; but there you go.)
I'd be hugely interested to know if anyone has tried researching such a table for cases other than English - looking at it, I thought immediately of Russian, which uses neither copula nor articles, but of course has numerous cases for nouns and distinguishes between transitive and intransitive verbs. Surely we could learn quite a lot about deep structure, including whether there is really much evidence for it in the first place, by comparing surveys like that across different (or indeed similar) languages? ( )