Researchers and Instructors Need to Talk to One Another!

This month we are publishing L2 Grammatical Representation and Processing edited by Deborah Arteaga. In this post the editor explains what motivated her to put the book together.

Too often, there is a divide between second-language (L2) researchers and L2 instructors. With a few exceptions, L2 research is typically highly theoretical and has no clear practical application for the L2 classroom. Yet this is unfortunate, because ideally, cutting-edge L2 research should inform pedagogy, and L2 instructors’ experience in the classroom should be incorporated into research studies. In other words, the world of researchers and that of instructors should intersect instead of being separate from one another. Too often, researchers are not concerned with pedagogy, and instructors are often frustrated when there seems to be a disconnect between L2 studies written only for specialists and real-world issues in the classroom.

My motivation in writing this book was to bridge that gap, in that all of the chapters are grounded in theory, but are accessible to specialists and non-specialists alike. The highly theoretical chapters (Achimova & Déprez, Chapter 1; Dekydtspotter & Gilbert, Chapter 4)  have pedagogical implications, which I summarize in the Conclusion chapter. Some chapters frame the results of their studies in terms of pedagogy (Ayoun, Chapter 3; Sagarra, Chapter 5; Vainikka & Young-Scholten, Chapter 6). Other chapters directly link their studies to the classroom (Arteaga & Herschensohn, Chapter 2; Yaden, Chapter 7). All chapters will be of interest to researchers and instructors alike.

It is my hope that this book will serve as a model for future volumes, so that researchers take into account classroom experience, and that instructors will glean pedagogical tips from theoretical research, even if they are not spelled out explicitly. In other words, researchers and instructors need to talk to one another!

 

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Mind Matters in SLA edited by Clare Wright, Thorsten Piske and Martha Young-Scholten.

The Amazing Mind of the Multilingual Language User

We recently published Mind Matters in SLA edited by Clare Wright, Thorsten Piske and Martha Young-Scholten. In this post the editors discuss what is unique about the book.

“I really love the cover of Mind Matters in SLA, but why do you have jugglers and acrobats?” – this was one of the most frequent comments we heard around the Multilingual Matters stands at conferences this autumn. This book is the companion volume to Input Matters in SLA, published by Multilingual Matters in 2009, with a similar cover by the wonderful artist Ellen Harris. The beauty but also the hard work that underpins successful acrobatics seems to us an ideal way of picturing the complex and amazing processes in the mind of the multilingual language user.

We wanted our volume to go to the heart of the debates that still go on around what the nature of language knowledge is, and – more importantly for us – how that knowledge develops and can be used. So we invited authors who are an eclectic mix of established leaders in their field and rising star researchers to create a well-rounded resource, which we hope will inspire readers, particularly those new to language acquisition, to think in new and exciting ways about second language teaching and learning.

The book is unique in some ways providing a bridge between formalism and functionalism, allowing the reader to explore points of convergence between Minimalist accounts and emergentist/processing accounts, and providing access to cutting-edge research on how learners make transitions during linguistic development. The book is also unique in being committed to being accessible to non-experts. We’ve ensured the volume is easily readable by those who will benefit from it most, i.e. students training to be language teachers, students on postgraduate programmes and professionals keen to reflect on their language teaching practice.

Another unusual aspect of the book is its historical range over what may lie behind modern theories and debates. We highlight just how long some of these questions have taxed scholars – we specifically include a chapter on language evolution, and other chapters make reference to the centuries of thinking about language, dating back to antiquity. The first section of the book focuses on issues that relate to our current understanding of language in general, to acquisition and to second language acquisition, including why human language (particularly syntax) is special, from both generative and non-generative perspectives. The second section includes work on issues currently debated in property-theoretic work in SLA on L2 morpho-syntax, phonology and speech perception, the lexicon and attrition. The third section, focusing on transition research, covers psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic research impacting L2 development, including models of L2 acquisition in and out of the classroom. As with Input Matters in SLA, we’ve included a glossary to define complex terms, and we have ensured chapters can be related to real-world settings to help the reader understand at least some of the possible reasons behind of the old mystery of “why don’t learners learn what the teacher teaches?” (Allwright 1984).

As with all edited volumes, there can be unexpected delays along the way, and we are grateful to Multilingual Matters for their support during the long process of finally getting this one out – to the delight (and relief) of contributors and editors when they saw it on the conference stand!

References:

Allwright, R. (1984) Why don’t learners learn what teachers teach?  The interaction hypothesis. In D.M Singleton and D.G. Little (eds) Language Learning in Formal and Informal Contexts (pp 3–18). Dublin: IRAAL

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Working Memory and Second Language Learning by Zhisheng (Edward) Wen.