Re: [xmca] Syllogism and interlanguage: Some definitions

From: Mark deBoer <mark who-is-at>
Date: Sun Dec 30 2007 - 17:39:50 PST

Ah David, you're beginning to grow on me.

Interlanguage in all its definitions is still interlanguage when rules
of the language are not explicitly taught, but are contrived from
previous knowledge.

Take the wud test for example as outlined in Pinkers book.

Children not knowing what a wud is, will automatically go for the 1
wud, 2 wuds kind of thinking because that is what they perceive the
rule to be despite not knowing what a wud is. Its the same for any
other word that children encounter for the first time, whether they
are words or nonsense words (we teach here nonsense words to help
students with their reading ability). Nonsense words are words like
'mus' which don't appear on their own anywhere, but appear inside
other words like hippopotamus. Children don't know what a word is- or
whether it is even a word or not the first time they encounter it.
The classic example of bake- baked or practice-practiced, or go-goed.
Children are working on their interlanguage and how the words work and
the rules that they make of them.

Fossilization I have always perceived as the interlanguage suddenly
being stopped in the process and the rules that the student as applied
thus far don't get to continue. So the go-goed remains as goed and
doesn't become went. Its a great metaphor (I used to be a BioChemist/
geneticist), and the idea of a language in the making suddenly being
frozen in time, with all the patterns unable to change makes perfect
sense. No a fluent speaker is not fossilized in that regard, but in a
way he/she is. Just walk into a cafeteria during lunch hour full of
teenagers. Do you really understand them? I haven't got a clue what
they are saying. I'm fossilized in the language that I grew up with
and I will never be able to learn the slang and the talk, despite the
consistencies of the language they are speaking. So, I disagree with
you there.

Corder was criticized for the reasons you state, you can't compare two
languages and from there determine where the mistakes are going to be.
That theory was thrown out the window ages ago. There was no
inconsistancy to the theory. Selinker was the interlanguage person for
SLA. Children learn language not because mom's an EFL teacher, but
because they want to express themselves. Children use language and in
doing so acquire it.

Child: Look mom! I putted the dishes on the table all by myself!
mom: No, I PUT the dishes on the table all by myself.
child: No mom, I putted the dishes on the table all by myself.

This is a great example of interlanguage in process with a child only
wanting to express him/herself.

The classroom is a different story. In a paper I wrote last year, I
showed the differences between learning a first language and learning
a second language in the classroom. The processes are completely
different and in the precursor to the introduction to the V-task, I
show that acquisition based on the need to express or mean comes a lot
sooner than rote repetition. This gets into Kelly and Bruner and
Vygotsky all in one and I'm sure there are a good other few names out
there with which to quote.

Syllogism is merely based on the transverse theorem if A=B and B=C
then A=C. Based on Luria's work, the students found alternate reasons
for A not to equal C without thinking of the reasoning.

But on a simpler note:

Teacher: One cat, two cats
Child: One cat, two cats
Teacher: One wug
Child: One wug, two wugs.

It's just a simple transverse theory in language. The children are
applying rules they know to other words.

Just as you may find on Korea, students may make predictable mistakes
going from their language to English, (just that the theory never was
consistent) I have found that there are certain mistakes that they
make going from Japanese to English.

Japanese: uchi ni kaeru. (I'm going home.)
popular mistake: I'm going to home. (ni is perceived as to and
therefore brought over that way)

I disagree that this is interlanguage. This is just the common mistake
of going from one language to the next and trying to apply the rules
of L1 to L2.

In my examples, I merely wanted to show that if a child or student
were only subjected to one set phrase and nothing around that, then
the set phrase would be the only phrase understood, regardless of the
different ways to say it. Halliday shows this well, Pinker too. But a
student with a grasp of other rules such as 'have you got' doesn't
necessarily mean are you holding something, but can also mean, 'could
you please tell me' or 'could you please give me'. In that case the
transverse theorem works, don't you think?

Now going on to what Sarah mentions;

'I also think there are some problems associated with students
'acquiring' new knowledge or language. My understanding of
sociocultural theory is that learners transform their understanding in
interaction with others and with artifacts to create new meaning and
create new knowledge in doing so, a kind of social constructivist
approach. I think the notion of 'acquisition' implies some sort of
blank slate approach where the learner simply fills up their mind with
the appropriate material instead of transforming it for their own
understanding and then externalisating that understanding.'

I agree yet I disagree, the sociocultural theory yes, I fully agree

'learners transform their understanding in interaction with others and
artifacts to create new meaning and create new knowledge in doing so,
a kind of social constructivist approach'

This really helps me with my own understanding, and yet the idea that
acquisition implies the the 'blank slate approach' I have to disagree
This 'blank slate' or tabula rasa, was disproved years ago. Skinners
behaviorist perspective didn't last very long, and was overtaken by
Chomsky's UG, with the concept that we never learn language initially
(L1) through full sentences, but always through false starts,
incomplete sentences and slips of the tongue. SLA really brought in
'interlanguage' and basically coined it as the path of the language
until fluency. (Brown, Lightbown and Spada)
Yet, in learning L2, it is treated more of a subject of study and it
is an entirely conscious learning effort. My own research has brought
this perspective of conscious learning into more of the social
interaction perspective where, yes, if you are going to have to study
it, let's do in such a way as to create an environment in the
classroom that it resembles L1 learning.

Take the example from Scovel;

A child entering the kitchen and seeing freshly baked cookies does not
hesitate to wonder: ‘I don’t know how to say it, so I can’t ask for
one’, but rather unhesitatingly will reach for one with or without
comment. Almost instinctively, ‘mom’ will rage a torrent of linguistic
commentary, where almost every other word will be either cookie or
cookies. (“Don’t touch the cookies! You can have a cookie after lunch!
One cookie! But no cookies now!”).

In the IRF classroom or the PPP style learning it would take a good
number of lessons to teach the concepts occurring here. The plurals,
uncountables vs countables, the 's' on the end of the cookies. We
overtly teach these rules using phrases like;

T: How many bananas do you have?
S: I have 1 banana.
T: good

T: How many bananas do you have?
S: I have 2 banana.
T: I have 2 bananas. Try again.
S: I have 2 bananas.
T: good.

Sorry but this is not language acquisition, this is rote learning of
set phrases and its assuming more of what you stated Sarah of the
tabula rasa approach. Everyone assumes it language acquisition because
that's what they are hoping for. There are all kinds of issues in this
kind of teaching, for example, parents want to see progress (what did
you learn today?) but I won't go into this here.

I think language acquisition is a result of the sociocultural theory
approach. Acquisition results from interaction. It's not a separate
path, its the same idea we are talking about, but the question then
is, when does acquisition occur? Or even better, why does it occur?

So this still brings me back to my original question then of the
sociocultural theory being the place for interlanguage? Ohta states,
the children take the language they have learned and 'test it out in a
social setting'. If it works then the child continues, if it doesn't
then the interaction results in a 'lesson'. The old example of daddy
standing up with a glass of champagne at Christmas dinner say 'let's
make a toast'. The child hearing this tests out his own 'let's make a
bread', gets plenty of laughs and sulks away from the table in
embarrassment, having learned that bread and toast in this case were
not interchangable.

I'm still wrestling with Andy's article. I had a short Skype talk with
Andy the other day, and although it was very interesting, he's got 20
years on me with his knowledge. Hegel sorry, I am certainly not up to
speed on as well as some of the other concepts. With my dissertation
starting right around the corner and one more paper on Halliday to
finish up, I doubt that I will get much time to read anything outside
of the course work until I finish the Halliday paper. I'd like to
apply as much as I can to the dissertation from what I'm gathering
from the great minds on this list. The help so far has been great!

I look forward to your comments on this mail.

Also... Does anyone know of any articles on comparing Halliday to
Vygotsky? I'm taking an approach for my next paper to compare them for
the purposes of the Second Language classroom. I have some articles
already from Google scholar, but if there are any that maybe you think
might be helpful then could you please lead me in that direction?


Have a Happy New Year!


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Received on Sun Dec 30 17:45 PST 2007

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