Wednesday, May 15, 2013

SLA Glossary A - C

The unconscious change in style of speech to sound more like the person we are talking to


The process through which language learners adopt the values and behaviours of the target language community

Adjacency pairs
Two related turns in conversation such as a question followed by an answer

Affective filter
Krashen’s term for the emotional attitude which enables language acquisition when the filter is lowered

A set of attributes which can be measured in tests such as the MLAT to predict which individuals are likely to be successful language learners

A feature of verbs which combines with tense to show the speaker’s view of the event, for example as completed or in progress

A cognitive process that enables us to focus on selected stimuli from the environment while ignoring others

The process which enables tasks such as language production to be performed without the need for conscious attention

A theory of learning popular in the 1950s which viewed learning as the result of habit formation through stimulus, response and reinforcement

Bottom-up processing
Gaining understanding of language input through synthesis and interpretation based on existing knowledge of the language system

Broca’s area
A region in the left frontal lobe of the brain that is responsible for speech production

Case marker
A feature that indicates the grammatical function of word in a clause, for example as subject (nominative case) or object (accusative case)

For an unstressed word, to attach in pronunciation to a stressed word

Code switching
Combining the use of two languages in a single conversation

Cognitive style
An individual’s preferred way of processing information, such as field dependence / independence

Communicative competence
The ability to use language appropriately depending on the context

The internal linguistic system which enables language performance

Competition Model

A model of language acquisition according to which learners interpret meaning based on the relative weight given to competing cues

Compound bilingualism
The organization of two languages, probably acquired simultaneously, in a single linguistic system in the brain

Comprehensible input
Input which is graded at the correct level to be understood by a language learner

A cognitive theory which holds that SLA takes place through repeated activation of associations present in the input


A view of SLA that regards interlanguage development as the progressive mastery of L2 lexis and morphology

Contrastive Analysis
An analysis of the similarities and differences between L1 and L2 that may be used to focus instruction on areas of expected difficulty and so avoid error

Coordinate bilingualism
The organization of two languages in separate linguistic systems in the brain

Creative Construction Hypothesis
A hypothesis that views SLA as essentially similar to L1 acquisition in that it is an innate process in which learners make unconscious hypotheses based on the input they receive

Critical Period Hypothesis
The view that the innate ability to acquire language is only available up to a certain age, after which SLA is achieved using general cognitive mechanisms which do  not enable native-like competence

Original definitions and selection of terms © 2013 Anglo-Hellenic Teacher Training


VanPatten, B.  & Benati, A. (2010) Key Terms in Second Language Acquisition. London: Continuum. 

VanPatten, B. & Williams, J. (eds.). (2007) Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction. London: Routledge

Doughty, C. and Long, M.  (eds.) (2003) Handbook of second language acquisition (2nd edition) Oxford: Blackwell.  

Mitchell, R., Myles, F. & Marsden, E. (eds.). (2012) Second Language Learning Theories (3rd Edition) London: Routledge 

Saville-Troike, M. (2012) Introducing Second Language Acquisition (2nd edition) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 

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