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Second Language Acquisition


Leon's Glossary of SLA Terms,

In the field of Applied Linguistics

Keywords:  English Pedagogy

Given in Alphabetical Order.


Terms & Definitions
(see "Monitor Theory")
Affective Domain
The 'affective domain' is the portion of the human psyche which consists of emotions, emotional stability, and E.Q.  (see also Cognitive Domain, and Humanism)
According to Richards and Rogers, 1986, and approach to language education must have two things:

1.  A Theory about language.

2.  A Theory about how language is learned / acquired.

(see also 'Method')

Attributive Clause
(see clause)
Method of second language education based upon behaviorism.  The main idea is:  Audio (listening) comes first, then Lingualism (speech).  Of course, the theory is that language is primarily spoken (as opposed to written), but that is not to say that the method disregards the written language all together.
Applied Linguistics
The branch of linguistics that deals with the issues/problems regarding learning, teaching, and translating languages.
The term is associated with Bialystock's "Automaticity Theory", and was probably coined by her.  The main idea is that language should be "automatically" produced, without having to think about the "form".  There are two "roads" or "paths" to automaticity: (1) immersion into the language, (2) lots of formal practice.
B.F. Skinner's theory, which basically states that all behavior is learned (aside from reflexes).  There is no innate behavior (aside from reflexes).  This, of course, includes the behavior of processing, and producing language.  
BI (two) + LINGUA (tongues) + AL (adj.) + ISM (condition)

The condition of having two tongues (i.e., two languages)

But, there are several kinds of bilingualism:

Two of these are:

Compound Bilingualism and Co-ordinate Bilingualism.

Compound Bilingualism is when a child begins learning the two languages before the age of 6-8, AND the languages are organized in the brain as one language is organized.

Co-ordinate Bilingualism is when a child begins learning the second language after the age of 10-14, AND the two languages are organized in the brain separately.

Between the age of 6-14 it could go either way.  It is a case-by-case thing.

I think this distinction comes from Fabbro, 1990.

For more information about the different kinds of bilingualism, see this website.

Bottom-up Education
This term is not used in applied linguistics (and that's why you've never encountered it before:).  It is used by L1 language arts educators (in the U.S.), such as I once was.  A synonym used in applied linguistics would be:

     (1) Deduction (AKA: Deductive language education)

In reading, one would start from the "bottom", also known as basic skills, such as phonics and general grammar rules.  Then, one would move to word recognition, and from there one would move to the sentence level, then to the paragraph, and finally to whole compositions.  [The same would apply to writing, reading and speaking].

Compare:  Deduction (below)
Contrast: Top-down Education; Holism; & Induction (all below)

Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
A clause must have a subject and a predicate.  Some clauses are NOT sentences, for instance:

Attributive Clause (AKA:  Relative Clause).

Example:  McDonalds is the place where I eat.  ("...where I eat" is a relative clause)

Code Mixing
"Very often the expression code mixing is used synonymously with code switching and means basically intra-sentential code switching. However, recent research has given new meaning to this term. Maschler (1998) defines code mixing or a mixed code as ?using two languages such that a third, new code emerges, in which elements from the two languages are incorporated into a structurally definable pattern? (p.125) In other words, the code mixing hypothesis states that when two code switched languages constitute the appearance of a third code it has structural characteristics special to that new code."

An example of code switching is when a Korean says, "Englisheuruel baeuja!"  (Let's learn English).

An example of code mixing is when a Korean says, "Enjoy haja!" (Let's do / enjoy).  It is not grammatically correct in either language.

Code Switching
(see 'Code Mixing')
Cognitive Code Learning
A method of second language learning/teaching based upon Chomsky's Transformational Grammar Theory.
Cognitive Domain
The 'cognitive domain' is the portion of the human psyche which consists of the ability to acquire, store, process, and retrieve knowledge.
CO (together) + LOCUS (place) + ATE (do) + ION (process of), i.e.,

the process of placing to things together.  (In this case, we're talking about placing two words together in a sentence).

A "chunk" of oral language, which is used in a given region or culture, and may not be used elsewhere.  A colloquialism may include slang and idioms.

Compare: Slang (below); Iidioms (below)

Communicative Approach
The theory (approach) is that language is primarily for communication AND communication is primarily spoken.
Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)
This is an Approach, not a Method.  In fact, it is synonymous with the Communicative approach.
Comprehension-based Approach
The theory is that language is learned ONLY when comprehended (primarily when the spoken language is comprehended, but to a certain extend when the written language is comprehended).  Incomprehensible input cannot be learned as "language".  It might be recognized as sounds, but not as language.  This is possibly based upon Krashen's Comprehensible Input Hypothesis (see Monitor Theory below).
I think this term was coined by Rutherford.  The general idea is that grammar does not need to be explicitly memorized in order to learn/acquire a language, but sometimes is it advantageous for the teacher to point out when something is un-grammatical (and for adults to explain WHY it is ungrammatical).
A major theme in the theoretical framework of Bruner is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. Cognitive structure (i.e., schema, mental models) provides meaning and organization to experiences and allows the individual to "go beyond the information given".

Source:  Bruner

Content-based Education
The idea is that learners of a language can learn it by studying subjects and/or topics of interest to them through the medium of the target language.
Contrastive Analysis
Contrasting two languages.  The purpose is usually to discover where learners will have problems in acquiring the target language.  {some studies have show that contrastive analysis is not 100% reliable, but I don't think it is entirely useless}.
[ > Latin.  body.]  A "body" of written compositions from the target language.  [ The plural of 'corpus' is 'corpora ].

(see also: Corpus Linguistics)

Corpus Linguistics
The branch of linguistics that deals with the study of languages based upon how the language is expressed in 'corpora' (authentic texts) of the target language.
Counseling Learning
A Method of Second Language Acquisition based upon the tenets of Humanism.  (see Humanism below).
When a Pidgin becomes a native tongue, it is called a Creole.  (see Pidgin below).
Critical Period
The period of human life when it is considered "critical" to proper and complete acquisition of one's first language (and some suggest second language as well, but some disagree, such as Lightbrown).

The critical period is between birth and age 12 (roughly).

Data-driven Learning
The idea is that by exposing the learner to copious amounts of data (of the target language), acquisition will be facilitated, if not optimized.

Compare: Input flooding (below)

Deduction, deductive language education
The process of deduction is:  SPECIFIC -> GENERAL.

In Second Language Acquisition, this means from SPECIFIC RULES of the language to GENERAL PRODUCTION.

That means:  the teacher explicates (gives) some specific rules and then the students DEDUCE (figure out) general production of the target language.

Compare:  Bottom-up Education (above)
Contrast:  Holism (below); Induction (below)

(see also the diagram at the bottom of this page)

Cambridge Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults
The part of a "METHOD" (defined by Richards and Rogers, 1986), where the approach is "turned into" a plan on how to teach a second language.
The part of a language which functions as an adjective and "determines" the relationship of the subject of the sentence to the producer of the sentence.  For instance:

That, this, my, his, a, the, etc. in the following sentences:

That book is mine.  This book is yours.  My eyes are green.  His hair is blonde.  A cow jumped over the moon. 

Diglot Weave
The term 'diglot weave' was coined by Dr. Robert Blair.  It is actually a technique for teaching a second language or a foreign language.  The Power-Glide Method employs the diglot weave as a (the) main technique.  It is based upon a comprehension-based approach to learning a second language.  [Two thumbs up from me!]

The word 'diglot' comes from Greek and is composed of two morphemes: di (two) and glot (tongues/languages).

The technique "weaves" two languages together (the mother tongue and the target language), for the most efficient way (yet) to assimilate a new language.

Simply:  two letters--one sound, like: "ch", "sh", "th", etc.
Simply:  two vowel sounds together, which are pronounced so quickly as to seem one sound.

Example:  the long "a" sound is /ei/, as in "ate";  or "ou" /au/, as in "out";  or "ou" /ou/, as in though. 

English as a Foreign Language

English that is learned in an environment where English is not the primary language of speech and education. 

English Language Training

Consists of both TESL and TEFL.

English as a Second Language

English that is learned in an environment where English is the primary language of speech and education.

A wrong use or usage of the target language, when the correct use/usage is not known to the speaker.

(contrast "mistake" below)  (see also USE and USAGE below).

False Cognates
Two words:  one of the mother tongue, the other of the target language, which are very similar in pronunciation, but have different meanings and usually are NOT etymologically related.

Example between English and Spanish:

English: embarrassed = ashamed
Spanish: embarasada = pregnant

False Friends
(see 'False Cognates')

Example between English and German:

English:  billion = 1,000,000,000
German: billion = 1,000,000,000,000

the process of making an error become a permanent mistake
Generative Grammar
(see 'Transformational Grammar' below)
[ > Greek.  tongue]  language.

monoglot = one language; a person who can produce only one language

diglot = two languages; a person who can produce two languages

polyglot = many languages; a person who can produce many languages

omniglot = all languages; a person (or computer) who (which) can produce all languages known to human kind.

Simply:  the rules of a language;  it includes syntax rules, usage rules, phonological rules

There are many kinds of "grammars", for instance:

1.  prescriptive grammar:  the rules of a given language, without exception, as the language was "prescribed".

2.  descriptive grammar:  the rules of a given language, "described" as it is actually spoken in real, daily life.

3.  pedagogic grammar:   the rules of a given language as taught in classrooms (generally second language or foreign language classrooms).

4.  transformational grammar (see below)

5.  universal grammar (see below)

Grammar Translation Method
A Method based upon the theory that a second language is primarily written (thus, antiquated).  The 'design' is such that one learns to discern the written word and how to produce the written word.  As the name suggests, heavy emphasis was on grammar and translation.
Graphology, grapheme
Graphology:  the study of the written part of a language

Grapheme:  the smallest unit of the written language

Holism, holistic teaching, holistic learning
The term 'holism' was coined by Jan C. Smuts.  Originally, the term was applied to organisms, as in the whole organism cannot be defined as merely the sum of its parts (compare Gestalt Psychology).  Later it was applied to education.  In education, especially language education, holism is the idea that you cannot simply teach a language by teaching the parts thereof and hope the students can 'assemble' the parts in the proper way.  Basically, the idea is that one teaches/learns language as a whole unit (compare corpus linguistics).

Compare:  Induction; Top-down Education (both below)
Contrast:  Bottom-up Education; Deduction (both above)

Homonymy, homonym
Homonymy:  the condition of having two words with the same spelling, same pronunciation, yet different meanings.  And, the two words are NOT etymologically related, in 99.9% of cases.

Homonym:  one or two or more words that have the same spelling, but different meanings and different etymologies.

The movement (credited to Carl Rogers) which suggests that learning anything is optimized by focusing upon the Affective Domain FIRST, before the Cognitive Domain.
Idiom, Idiomatic Expression
A verbal expression, where the 'deep structure' is different from the 'surface structure'.  Idioms differ from slang in that they are phrases (not individual words).

(for definitions of 'deep structure' and 'surface structure', see Transformational Grammar below)

Compare:  Colloquialism (above)
Contrast:  Slang (below)

Illocution, Illocutionary Act
A speech act, which carries a meaning in addition to the one conveyed.

For example:  "It's cold in here,"  could mean:  "It's cold in here, so would you close the window?"

I believe the terms above were coined by Austin and Searle.

Illocutionary act / illiocutionary force
The illocutionary force of "It's cold in here," would be: "Would you close the window?"


Illocutionary Act:  "It's cold in here."

Illocutionary Force:  "Would you close the window?"

I believe the terms above were coined by Austin and Searle.

Induction, Inductive language education
The process of induction is GENERAL -> SPECIFIC.

In Second Language Acquisition, this means:  GENERAL SAMPLES OF THE LANGUAGE to SPECIFIC RULES by which the language appears to be governed.

The idea is that the teacher gives general samples of compositions in the target language, and students are supposed to induce (figure out) the specific rules.

(see diagram at the bottom of this page)

Inner Language
The language of a classroom second language lesson, which is both in the target language AND part of the objectives for the lesson.  I believe this term was coined by Wilson.

(contrast 'Outer Language')

Input Flooding
The "flooding" of the learner with copious input from the target language, the aim being to allow the learner to induce the general rules of the language and increase vocabulary knowledge.

Compare: Data-driven Learning (above)

A language of second language learners, which is composed of:

1.  correct target language components
2.  incorrect target language components

The incorrect target language components are composed of:

1.  errors based upon L1 interference
2.  errors based upon incorrect hypotheses about how the target language works.

I believe the term above was coined by Selinker.

Interlanguage Hypothesis
Selinker (1972) lists five factors which may cause the output of interlanguage: 

(1) Language transfer - fossilizable items, rules, subsystems which occur in the interlanguage as a result of transfer from the native language. 
(2) Transfer of training - items resulting from particular approaches used in training. 
(3) Strategies of second language learning - identifiable approaches by the learner to the material being learned. 
(4) Strategies of second-language communication - identifiable approaches by the learner to communication with native speakers of the target language. 
(5) Overgeneralization of target language linguistic material - overgeneralization of target language rules and semantic features. 
One's dialogue partner.
L1, L2
L1 = One's first language;  L2 = One's second language
Language Competence
The part of Linguistic Competence that deals with organization and pragmatic competence.

(See my Language Competence page)

Lingua franca
"a common language that consists of Italian mixed with French, Spanish, Greek, and Arabic and is spoken in the ports of the Mediterranean" (Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary)

Also: a "lingua franca" could be any Pidgin (see Pidgin below)

Some people say that English is the lingua franca of the Information Age.

[ > Latin.  tongue.]  1.  (adj.) of language (s);  2.  (n.) language producer

unilingual = of one language;  a person who can produce only one language competently

bilingual = of two languages; a person who can produce two languages competently

trilingual = of three languages; a person who can produce three languages competently

multilingual = of many languages; a person who can produce many languages competently

Linguistic Competence
Linguistic Competence (coined by Bachman) consists of Language Competence AND Strategic Competence.
All the words of a given language.
Lexical Approach
The theory is that having a huge vocabulary in the target language facilitates acquisitions of the target language, since languages are primarily composed of words.
Locution, Locutor
Locution = Speech;  Locutor = Speaker.
According to Richards and Rogers (1986), a Method must have an 'Approach'  (see 'Approach'), a 'Design' (see 'Design'), and a 'Procedure' (see 'Procedure').
A wrong production of the target language, when the producer knows the correct way.

This usually happens due to 'fossilization'.  (see 'Fossilization' above).

Monitor Theory
The Monitor Theory (by Krashen) has 5 parts (hypotheses):

1.  Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis
The idea here is that ‘acquisition’ of a language is implicit knowledge of a language & ‘learning’ a language is explicit knowledge of a language. Also, acquisition is supposed to be superior, in that ‘acquirers’ can produce the target language spontaneously, while ‘learners’ of a language must take time to think about it, and even then often make mistakes. (A good question for interview students might be: “Have you ‘acquired’ English, or have you ‘learned’ English?”)
2.  Natural Order Hypothesis
As the name implies, the idea is that people learn a second language in a natural order. [NOTE: there is a lot of evidence (and no counter evidence) for a natural order in L1 learning; BUT, there is some counter evidence for such in L2 learning.]
3.  Monitor Hypothesis
The idea is that learners of a second language should monitor themselves as they speak, and correct themselves.
4.  Input Hypothesis
Also called “i + 1” hypothesis by Koreans. “i” stands for input (but means: “known input”); and “1” stands for one unknown ‘chunk’ of language (whether it’s a word or an idiomatic expression). The idea is that students can only process one ‘chunk’ of knew information at a time. [Note: this is a highly theoretical assumption and I don’t know if the evidence can support it, but certainly one cannot process TOO much information at once, and if we take this hypothesis ‘in the spirit of the law’, it sounds reasonable.]
5.  Affective Filter Hypothesis
l Don’t know much about this, but I surmise that it deals with the ‘affective domain’ in regards to language acquisition, probably a humanistic approach to language instruction.
Mother tongue
One's first language.

Contrast:  Target Language (below)

Motor Learning Theory
This theory was the basis for Asher's Total Physical Response Method of second language acquisition.

It attests that children learn best by doing (i.e., through motor involvement).

Morphology, Morpheme
Morphology = the study of the morphemic components of a language.

Morpheme = the smallest unit of a language that has meaning.

For more information about English morphemes, see my Morpheme Page.

NS = native speaker;  NNS = non-native speaker
This is when a word is borrowed from another language and is institutionalized into the mother tongue.

Example:  The English word: Okay has been nativized in most world languages.  SEE:

Spanish:  oquei
Korean:  okei
Polish:  okej

Natural Approach
(By Terell, 1976) The Natural Approach is a Comprehension-based approach, which aims to supply a high amount of input made comprehensible through the use of pictures, actions, gestures, situation instruction, and so on.
Organizational Competence
The second part of Language Competence, which consists of Grammatical Competence and Textual Competence.

(for more information, see my Language Competence page).

Outer Language
As opposed to 'inner language', it is the language of a particular second language lesson, which is composed of words, phrases, directives, etc, which are NOT part of objectives for the lesson.
A language, used primarily for trade, which consists of less lexis than that of the original language, and sometimes incorrect grammar as well.

(see also 'Creole')

The smallest unit of sound in a language.
The science that deals with the suprasegmental sounds of a spoken language (i.e., intonation and voice quality)
The science that deals with the segmental sounds of the spoken language (i.e., pronunciation)
The science that deals with the sound of the written symbols of a language, and often the teaching thereof

(form more information, please visit my Phonics page) 

Phonetics and Phonemics together
A series of words, less than a clause

(see 'Clause' above)

Phrasal Verb
A single verb, that is composed of more than one word, (AKA: two-part, or three-part verbs)

Note:  the second (and third, if there is a third) part(s) of the phrasal verb are called 'particles'.

For more information about phrasal verbs, click here.

Polysemy, Polyseme
POLY (many) + SEME (meanings)

Polysemy = the condition of a word having more than one meaning.

Polyseme = a word that has more than one meaning.

For more information about polysemy, click here.

Pro-drop language
A language that can "drop" the subject (when known).

I'm still looking for a term for a language that can "drop" the object, such as Korean.

Koreans generally say, "Love" when they mean "I love you."

The part of a 'Method' which consists of the individual techniques for effecting the 'Design' of a 'Method'.

(For more info, see 'Method' and 'Design' above).

Process-oriented education
Education which focuses on the process, i.e., the way of teaching, which is more concerned with the way students acquire the curriculum than the curriculum.
Product-oriented education
Education which focuses on the product (i.e., curriculum).  Finishing the curriculum is more important than making sure the students actually acquire any knowlege.
real objects (as opposed to pictures or mere symbols), which are to be used as instructional tools

pronunciation:  /ri: ei li: a/ or /rei ae li: a/ (according to Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary), which is funny , because I've always pronounced it this way:  /ri: ae li: a/, because that is the way it should be pronounced, according to the ruled of Phonics, which is my forte. The rules of Phonics say that if two vowels are juxtaposed, the first vowel is long and the second vowel is short (with the exception of a few diphthongs and several vowel-digraphs).

Relative Clause
(see 'Clause')
The science that deals with the meanings of words.
Silent Way, The
A 'Method' which allows NO use of the mother tongue, and lots of body language and gestures to compensate.
A single word, which is generally NOT in the dictionary, but is common in speech.

NOTE:  Slang is different from "idiom".  For more information, see my "Slang and Idioms" page.

Speech Act
An utterance which has a complete thought or force.
Strategic Competence
Strategic Competence is the part of Linguistic Competence that deals with being able to use language in strategic ways, such as to gain approbation from one's peers or superiors.
Theorist:  F. de Saussure

Content of Theory:  language contains only two things: signifiers and signifieds

Signifier = a symbol, sound, or image (as a word) that represents an underlying concept or meaning
(From: Merriam-Webster online)

Signified = a concept or meaning (as distinguished from the sign through which it is communicated)
(From: Merriam-Webster online)

A Method of second language acquisition, which was started by Lozonov, and involves first getting the mind into a 'suggestive' state, like hypnosis, before teaching the target language.  It works, but it requires intensive training and music of exactly the right tempo.
The proper order of words in a sentence.
Target language
The language to be learned.

Contrast: Mother Tongue (above)

Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

(see also 'EFL')

Teaching English as a Second Language.

(see also 'ESL')

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (an international organization.

Primarily, it is NOT a certificate, although secondarily, there does appear to be a certificate offered by the same title, possibly offered by the organization of the same title. (I admit ignorance in this matter).

Top-down Education
This term is not an applied linguistic term (and that's why you have never seen it before :).  It is a term used by L1 language arts educators (in the U.S.) as I once was.  Two synonyms of the term, used in applied linguistics would be:

     (1)  Holism; (AKA: holistic education)
     (2)  Induction: (AKA: inductive education)

Basically, the 'top' refers to language as being units of "wholes" (i.e., complete compositions).  Language, therefore should be taught in the context of "wholes".  Students are then to induce the "down" part which is composed of specific rules of the target language.

Compare:  Holism (above); Induction (above)
Contrast:  Bottom-down (above); Deduction (above)

Also:  (see diagram)

Total Physical Response
A Method a second language acquisition, by Asher, which is based upon the Motor Learning Theory.

(see 'Motor Learning Theory' above).

Transformational Grammar
Coined by Noam Chomsky, Generative/Transformational Grammar is:

Each human language is composed of rules. Theoretically, all human languages adhere to some universal rules (i.e., deep structure).  The 'surface structure' may be different between languages, but the deep structure will be the same.

More Details about the theory:
The 'surface structure' is composed of 'phrase structure' AND 'transformations'.

The 'phrase structure' is the syntax of words in phrases.
English Example: "In the brown house"
Spanish Example: "in the house brown"
Korean Example: "brown house in"

'Transformations' are rules of putting phrases together.
English Example: "I live in the brown house."
Spanish Example: "I live in the house brown."
Korean Example: "I brown house in live. "The 'deep structure' (i.e., meaning) of all three sentences is the same.

Universal Grammar
Coined by Noam Chomsky, Universal Grammar is not really a concrete grammar.  It is an abstract concept, and a totally un-provable one.  But, though it is un-provable, it is without Achilles heel.  It is flawless.  In short, it is very likely true.

The basic idea is that all humans possess (innately) a 'working' grammar in their minds, from which language can "sprout".  It is like a template for language to "fit into".  This "template" is universal grammar.  When a child learns a language, it is like fitting geometric shaped objects into their corresponding geometric molds. 

Use and Usage
Use (n.):  application of a word or phrase.

Usage (n.):  proper (or improper) use (application) of a word or phrase to convey meaning.  Thus, improper usage would either convey the wrong meaning, or would be totally incomprehensible.

any spoken word or words, which is brought to conclusion by interruption, or long pause.
Whole Language
There are 2 meanings, which creates confusion for one, such as myself, who is involved in both L1 education & L2 education.

In L1 language arts, the term "Whole Language" refers to a movement which combines both bottom-up (deduction) and top-down (induction) in the same educational APPROACH.

In L2 education, the term "Whole Language" refers to the instruction of all 4 language skills, namely, listening, speaking, reading and writing.



To Edit the Articles above

Please contact me.





Appendix 1

Post Structuralism

Title:  "Sum:  Postmodernism and Linguistics"
Editor:  Karen Milligan <>


Basically, Post Structuralism is a collection of theories born from a critique of Saussure's Structuralism.

Theorist1:  Foucault

Theory:  no human, raised on this planet, can be completely objective in evaluating ourselves and our languages.

My Comment:   Foucault may have a good point there, but how can he be completely objective about us being non-objective?  Heh, heh.

Theorist2:  Derrida

Theory:  "Deconstruction"  i.e., a technique for discovering the various meanings that a text may have.

My Comment:  I definitely agree with Derrida.  A text may have many different meanings.  That makes translations so difficult.  And it makes linguistics perhaps the most difficult science in the world.



Appendix 2


Deductive vs. Inductive Approach to teaching a Second Language

Sources:  Myself; Brown, (2001) TBP; Rutherford (1987) 

Which is better?

Brown, 2001:365, Suggests that teaching (general) grammar rules explicitly is unnecessary and that a more inductive approach to Second Language Grammar Acquisition is better.  But, he acknowledges that there may be times when a deductive approach might complement an inductive approach, such as when students need correcting.

I personally think that a deductive approach is completely unnecessary, BUT, at the same time, I like to use a deductive approach COMBINED with an inductive approach in my personal second language studies, as I think they complement each other.

The Disadvantage of a Purely Inductive Approach:

The disadvantage of a purely inductive approach is that student often make incorrect hypotheses about the language based upon the general samples given.  They go through a hypothesis-testing period and this takes time.  While I am not critiquing it's effectiveness, I feel it lacks efficiency.  Even native-speaking children have to go through the hypothesis-testing period, and it takes them years to learn their own language.  However, with young children, whose cognitive development is not yet mature, it is worthless to use a deductive approach.  And yet, with adults, it is possible, and may save huge amounts of time (i.e., increase efficiency).

The Disadvantage of a Purely Deductive Approach:

The disadvantages of a purely deductive approach (specifically regarding ESL/EFL) are:

1.  There are too many rules, and the rule system in English is very convoluted at times.  Take the subset of determiners, called "articles" (a, an, the) for example.  The rules for using these are so extremely convoluted.

2.  There are too many exceptions to the rules.

3.  USAGE is so extremely important in English.  It would take decades to explain are the proper usages of English... "We use this word in this situation and this word in this situation."

In essence, giving general rules is not enough to grasp a language as complex as English.

4.  Oh, almost forgot the most important disadvantage; studies have shown that knowing a rule of a language does NOT guarantee a person can "use it".  Anyone who has taught EFL/ESL, knows that this is the case.  You teach the rules ad infinitum, and yet some of the students keep disregarding the rule.  This is not because they are stupid.  It is because the human mind doesn't work that way.  Rules should be introduced merely as a way of "Consciousness Raising" (C-R).  I believe the concept of C-R was introduced by Rutherford (1987), but I'm not sure.


Since the deductive approach is NOT EFFECTIVE (in producing results),

And, since the inductive approach is NOT EFFICIENT (in conserving time),

I call for a combination of both approaches in SLA.

See my SLA Theory


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