Abstracts (keynote speakers)

Alessandro Benati (University of Greenwich)

Input manipulation, enhancement and processing: theoretical views, empirical research and pedagogical implications

Researchers in the field of instructed second language acquisition have been examining the issue of how learners interact with input by conducting research measuring particular kinds of instructional interventions. These pedagogical interventions include such things as input flood, textual enhancement and processing instruction. Although the findings are not conclusive, it is clear that enhancing input is beneficial for language development.

In this paper, three main research foci are considered: (a) research measuring the effects of saturating the input with the target form (input flood); (b) research measuring the effects of different types of textual enhancements to draw learners’ attention to the target form; and (c) research measuring the effects of processing instruction. Pedagogical implications are drawn from these research findings.

 

Dietmar Röhm (University of Salzburg)

“Neurophysiological correlates of (morpho-)syntactic processing in L2 acquisition”

One of the major questions in the field of second language (L2) processing research is, whether or not first and second language processing are different or similar. With respect to semantic processing, it has been shown that age of acquisition (AoA) has little to no impact upon the observed neurophysiological correlates of L2 learners. In particular, the use of the event-related potential (ERP) technique to examine language processing has revealed that even late L2 learners show a qualitatively similar pattern (N400) as native speakers, though onset/peak latencies, amplitude, effect sizes, and distributional parameters of the N400 may slightly differ. Most authors therefore conclude that lexical-semantic processing of a second language is comparable to first language processing, even at lower proficiency levels. On the contrary, most experiments that investigated (morpho-)syntactic L2 processing found major qualitative and quantitative differences between L1 and L2 speakers, concluding that even small alterations in the age of acquisition and/or proficiency level of a second language have a massive impact upon processing. In my talk I will give a brief overview of the main ERP results in L2 processing, before I present some recent findings that challenge traditional views of L2 sentence processing.

 

Michael Sharwood Smith (Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh University)

“How to grow new languages: a teacher’s  guide to the learner’s mind”

This talk will use the MOGUL framework (Truscott & Sharwood Smith 2004, Truscott 2005, Sharwood Smith in prep) to develop an account about how the mind’s different expert systems collaborate to create new language knowledge and skill and about the extent to which the instructional context can aid and abet, or alternatively obstruct the growth process.

Important concepts in this account will be both input processing – how the learner uses environmental stimuli to build linguistic knowledge – and input enhancement, that is rendering aspects of the input more salient to facilitate this growth, that is to say  either because of direct and deliberate manipulation of the input by the teacher or by other indirect of accidental means. ‘Input’ can be language input but also or other kinds of input that are necessary for associating sounds (text and other signs) into meaning.  The MOGUL framework is built on the basis of findings in different research fields within cognitive science and seeks to integrate them into a more comprehensive account of how the mind works.