Monday, October 29, 2012

VanPatten Chapter 4: Output

VanPatten, Chapter 4: Output p. 61 - 76

This chapter addresses the questions: What is output? How do learners make output? What is the role of output in the learner's linguistic system?
Output is defined by VanPatten as "language that a learner produces to express some kind of meaning" (62). That means that parrots are not producing genuine output, because they do not know what they are communicating. Learners must have "communicative intent" when speaking. 
The two processes involved in learners making output are access and production strategies. Access is "activating the lexical items and grammatical forms necessary to express particular meanings" (63). Production strategies are a hierarchy of strategies that speakers use to communicate. The hierarchy ascends from the most basic language production tools to more difficult procedures. For example, the lowest procedure in the hierarchy is lemma, or being able to access words. The next is category procedure, which refers to the ability to add inflections to words such as the "ed" ending for the past tense.
The role of output in the learner's creation of an implicit system is a facilitative, helper role. Learners who need to be able to produce output are more likely to pay attention to the syntax and structure of the input (69). Output can be the catalyst that encourages learners to become better at processing input. This was the part of the chapter that I connected to most. I have found myself trying really hard to pay attention to Spanish speakers' syntax in order to pick up more types of phrasing so that I can add them to my production strategies. 

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