Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SLA Glossary P - W

The real-time subconscious analysis of the syntactic structure of input in order to comprehend it


The use of the underlying linguistic competence to produce language output

Positive evidence
Input which illustrates correct use of language

Poverty of the stimulus
The claim that the input received is not sufficient to account for language competence, and that there must therefore be some innate capacity

Procedural knowledge

Knowledge of how to do something, such as the ability to use a language, with a degree of automatization acquired through practice that reduces the need for attention

The real-time subconscious parsing and extraction of meaning from input

A reformulation of an incorrect utterance which provides the correct from without focusing on it explicitly

Overcoming potential breakdowns in communication

The reorganisation of the mental representation of knowledge

ScaffoldingThe provision of support by a teacher or other expert user to facilitate a learner’s production

The mental representation of a situation, topic or event which determines our expectations and influences our understanding of new information

Sociocultural theory
The belief that all learning is an essentially social process grounded in sociocultural settings such as the school and the workplace

Top-down processing
The understanding of meaning through pre-existing knowledge of content, context and culture


The influence, either positive or negative, of the L1 on the acquisition of the L2

Ultimate attainment
The end state where a learner’s L2 attainment stops developing

Universal Grammar
A linguistic framework which claims that all languages share a set of underlying principles and that innate knowledge of these enables acquisition


The adoption by a learner of the correct form provided in a recast

Lack of consistency in the accuracy of a learner’s language production

Wernicke’s area
A region of the left frontal lobe of the brain associated with understanding spoken language

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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