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Second Language Acquisition Comic´S Debate

Topics: Linguistics / Pages: 5 (1001 words) / Published: Jun 23rd, 2012
SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
COLLABORATIVE SUMMARY

a) What is the comic strip about?

With respect to what the comic is about, we have concluded that the man in the cartoon seems to be a foreigner who travels to another country and comes across local people who say some words and make a particular gesture in a nice manner. The man then makes use of his situational schematic knowledge (De Vega, 1995) to interpret the gesture and the linguistic input he receives. By constructing meaning with the use of his strategic competence (Swain and Canale, 1980), he believes that they are all greeting him. He then imitates the gesture made by the first person to greet back all the people he meets. At the hotel, there is a man kneeled on the floor probably in pain from hammering his hand who again uses the same words, and it is here when the man comes to realize that those words would mean something completely different from what he had deduced. In this way, there is an evident breakdown of communication (conflict) due to cultural differences.

b) What is the connection between the story, negotiation of meanings and communicative competence?

As regards negotiation of meaning, we have different opinions. Some of us have concluded that there could be a negotiation of meaning by the end of the cartoon since the tourist will notice the linguistic gap and will try to fix it (Schmidt and Frota, 1986). In this respect, Ellis (2001) says that negotiation takes place after a signal that there is a linguistic problem which needs explicit resolution. In this case, the man should be capable of recognizing what was wrong with his output and consequently, he should generate a modified output and self-correct (Long,1996). In this way, second language acquisition will be optimized. As for communicative competence, there is a perception about how the tourist and the inhabitants of the foreign country do not share the same cultural background and this interferes with the man’s communicative competence, namely, with his sociolinguistic competence (Canale and Swain, 1980).

Other group members believe there was no negotiation of meaning since the man was absolutely sure he was being greeted and his final realization was the result of a new contextual situation, rather than of interaction seeking clarification. According to sociocultural theories, learning occurs “when an individual interacts with an interlocutor within his or her zone of proximal development (ZPD)-that is, in a situation in which the learner is capable of performing at a higher level because there is support from an interlocutor” (Lightbown & Spada, 2008, p. 47). In this cartoon, there is no real communication. The native speakers use body language to greet the tourist and spoken language to express something different. Nobody helps the tourist to realize he is misinterpreting the message; i.e, the interlocutors do not provide any support, quite the opposite. The fact that there was no spoken interaction may thus account for the absence of both scaffolding and negotiation of meaning.

c) Recognizing the importance of negotiation of meanings in SLA, does it always help in an EFL context? Why? Why not? Remember there are, at least, two points of views on this respect -re-read our lesson plan- Is it possible to reconcile these two ideas?

We believe that negotiation of meaning is important in EFL context to avoid misunderstandings. Since cultural background plays an important role when dealing with foreign languages, negotiating meaning becomes a key part to make sure we are using the right language in the right context. Appropriacy in the use of spoken or body language is very important and needs to be considered when acquiring a second language in a foreing context.

Even though some researchers (Could we name who they are?) believe that negotiating for meaning is not a strategy that language learners are predisposed to employ when they encounter gaps in their understanding” (Foster, 1997), in our opinion teachers should help learners realize the importance of this strategy for successful SLA to take place by adapting contents and complexity of texts in order to help the foreign learners approach the acquisition of L2 by means of verbatim, vocabulary and syntax adjustments.

d) Is it necessary to be an effective communicator or a competent one, these days? Bear the comic strip in mind.

In order to establish if it is necessary to be an effective communicator or a competent one (in relation to this comic strip), we should first need to place this cartoon within an intercultural communication background. The man makes use of his intercultural competence to interpret and construct meaning from an unknown context for him. He tries to find similarities between the target culture and his own´s in terms of paralinguistic elements he observes. Even though he does not interpret the message effectively, he does develop certain skills of inference. In this respect, Tomlinson (2001, p 3) suggests that “Cultural awareness” involves “a gradually developing inner sense of the equality of cultures, an increased understanding of your own and other people’s cultures, and a positive interest in how cultures both connect and differ”

Bibliography

Canale, M. & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics

De Vega, M. (1995). Introducción a la lingüística cognitiva. Madrid: Alianza Editorial S.A.

Foster, P.1997. A Classroom Perspective on the Negotiation of Meaning. Applied Linguistics. Volume 19. Issue 1.OUP

Lightbown, P. and Spada, n. (2008) How languages are learned. OUP. Oxford

Long, M. H. (1996). The role of the linguistic environment in second language acquisition. In W. Ritchie & T. Bhatia (Eds.), Handbook of research on second language acquisition. New York: Academic Press.

Ellis, R. (2001) Non-reciprocal tasks, comprehension and second language acquisition. OUP. Oxford

Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in its development. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Tomlinson, B. (2001). Seeing more between the lines. The Guardian Weekly, Learning English, 5, 21–27.

Bibliography: Canale, M. & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics De Vega, M. (1995). Introducción a la lingüística cognitiva. Madrid: Alianza Editorial S.A. Foster, P.1997. A Classroom Perspective on the Negotiation of Meaning. Applied Linguistics. Volume 19. Issue 1.OUP Lightbown, P. and Spada, n. (2008) How languages are learned. OUP. Oxford Long, M. H. (1996). The role of the linguistic environment in second language acquisition. In W. Ritchie & T. Bhatia (Eds.), Handbook of research on second language acquisition. New York: Academic Press. Ellis, R. (2001) Non-reciprocal tasks, comprehension and second language acquisition. OUP. Oxford Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in its development. Rowley, MA: Newbury House. Tomlinson, B. (2001). Seeing more between the lines. The Guardian Weekly, Learning English, 5, 21–27.

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