Saturday, September 15, 2012

VanPatten Chapter 2: Input

VP Ch 2: Input

            In order for second language acquisition to take place the learner needs to be exposed to language input. Input is the language that is read or heard by the learner. The two types of input are conversational, where the learner is involved, and non-conversational input such as listening to the radio or watching TV. Immersion learners are more likely to gain mastery over a language because they receive more input. The more language input someone is exposed to the more likely the person is to develop an implicit linguistic system. Parsing refers to a learner projecting or predicting the sentence as they hear it or filling in the gaps in the language. L2 learners tend to assume the first noun in the sentence is the subject. Lexical semantics are what is required of a subject to perform an action and can be used by language learners to interpret sentences.   
            Second language learners need input but too much input can be overwhelming. One way they lessen the input burden is by negotiating meaning, or confirming what that they understood what they heard. Another way to ease the burden on the learner is by simplifying input or modifying input. For example, when adults talk to babies they simplify their statements. VanPatten lists several ways of modifying input: “using shorter sentences, adding pauses, using more common vocabulary, repeating something” (VanPatten 39). Modifying input and adjusting input to match the learners’ level increases their chances of noticing important aspects of language.
            I have always heard that the most important thing for language development is being exposed to the spoken language. My AP Spanish teacher encouraged us to watch Spanish television and listen to the radio outside of class. Now I made the connection that that was because she wanted to increase the amount of input thereby increasing our likelihood of attending to important aspects of the language and forming an implicit linguistic system. 

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