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Date: Sun, 11 May 2003 15:13:02 +0800 From: Jette G. Hansen Subject: Portraits of the L2 User
Cook, Vivian, ed. (2002) Portraits of the L2 User, Multilingual Matters, Second Language Acquisition series.
Jette G. Hansen, University of Arizona
Portraits of the L2 User, edited by Vivian Cook, is a collection of articles focusing on the nature of the second language (L2) user. Each of the thirteen chapters in the volume is prefaced with a short introduction by Cook to relate the contents of the chapter to broader issues in second language acquisition (SLA) research. The volume is intended for students and researchers in the areas of SLA, bilingualism, linguistics, and language teaching. The first chapter, written by Cook, serves as an introduction to the concept of the L2 user. The other chapters focus on: lexical representation and processing (A. de Grott), phonology (R. Major), syntax (S. Flynn and B. Lust), functional usage (C. Perdue), cognitive processes (E. Bialystok), bilingual children (F. Genesee), neurolinguistics (F. Fabbro), individual differences (J.-M. Dewaele), language attrition (K. De Bot and M. Hulsen), social factors (A. Pavlenko), learners' rights (F. G. de Matos), and language teaching methodology (V. Cook).
In Chapter 1, "Background to the L2 User," Cook establishes the construct of L2 user in contrast to L2 learner, defining L2 learner as someone who acquires the L2 for later use while L2 user is someone engaged in real-life usage of the L2, and that "any use counts, however small or ineffective" (p. 3). Based on this distinction, Cook argues that SLA research should shift its focus from the L2 learner, or someone who fails to acquire native speaker proficiency (e.g., the deficit model), to exploring the nature of L2 users in their own right. Cook also discusses the concept of "multi-competence" (Cook, 1991) and argues that SLA and linguistic theory should be reframed with the view that multilingualism, and not monolingualism, is the norm.
In Chapter 2, "Lexical Representation and Lexical Processing in the L2 User," de Groot, examines how the L2 user's mind represents and processes the vocabularies of two languages. De Groot discusses various models of lexical representation, especially three-component hierarchical models, providing evidence for and against each model. De Groot argues that three-component models are functionally rather than qualitatively different and that various versions of the three-component models can occur within one bilingual mind as bilingual memory representation varies not only across populations, but also within individuals, even for the same L1 and L2, based on factors such as language proficiency, word type, word frequency, and L2 learning method/environment.
In Chapter 3, "The Phonology of the L2 User," Major outlines his original model, the Ontogeny Phylogeny Model (OPM), portions of which are also discussed in detail in Major (2001), to account for the principles involved in the development of an L2 phonological system as well as the changes in the L1 system as a result of exposure to an L2. The three main factors involved in the development of an interlanguage -- the L1, the L2, and universal principles - - are discussed within individual's language development and change (Ontogeny) as well as changes and evolutions of whole languages (Phylogeny) due to language contact phenomena, dialect variation, and historical change.
In Chapter 4, "A Minimalist Approach to L2 Solves a Dilemma of UG," Flynn and Lust discuss the dilemma of how the distinction between initial and end states of the UG can be maintained if the UG is continuous between these states. The authors outline both the Maturational Model and the Strong Continuity Model and then draw on both L1 and L2 research to argue for the Strong Continuity Model of UG, with the additional claims that at the end-state, the UG is distinct from specific language grammars, that the UG is available to adult L2 learners in its entirety, and that L1 and adult L2 knowledge are not acquired in fundamentally different ways.
In Chapter 5, "Development of L2 Functional Use," Perdue draws on data from the European Science Foundation (ESF) to illustrate the highly structured and recurrent nature, and cross-linguistic consistency of learner language. Taking a functional approach to the analysis of learner language, Perdue examines both sentence and discourse level organizational principles, and the communicative and formal factors that may explain the acquisition process. Arguing that culture-neutral knowledge and process-related principles govern informational organization at the discourse level and language-neutral knowledge and process- related principles at the sentence level, Perdue employs ESF learner data to illustrate how the interaction of organizational principles determine the relatively stable functional system.
In Chapter 6, "Cognitive Processes of L2 Users," Bialystok examines the relationship between language and cognition, especially in relation to users of two languages. Bialystok outlines both the formal and functional views of language and cognition, as well as hybrid theories, and then presents her own framework (cf. Bialystok, 1991, 2001) which employs analysis of representational structure and control of attention to consider the relationship between language and cognition. Drawing on findings from research on bilingual children, Bialystok argues that learning two languages effects significant changes in how children carry out general cognitive processes, and that this impact is limited to the control of attention aspect of her framework.
Chapter 7, "Portrait of the Bilingual Child," Genesee focuses on bilingual code mixing, which he discusses from cognitive, linguistic, and communicative perspectives, to refute the assumptions that learning two (or more) languages simultaneously is problematic and that bilingual children possess a single unified language system. Genesee argues that bilingual children's use of the two languages is appropriate and context-sensitive and differentiated from the one-word stage onwards, and that bilingual children typically acquire language-appropriate and language-specific constraints for each language.
In Chapter 8, "The Neurolinguistics of L2 Users," Fabbro addresses the question of whether the two languages of bilinguals have similar or different brain representations. Fabbro examines research from bilingual aphasics, cases of language mixing and switching by bilinguals with cerebral lesions, electrophysiological studies, and neuroanatomy studies. Findings from these studies suggest that neural structures are involved in the selection and segmentation of utterances, that there may differences in the cerebral cortical organization of languages based on learning strategies and age of learning, and while the lexicons of the L1 and the L2 may be stored in the same brain areas regardless of age of acquisition, the representation of morphosyntax may be different if the L2 is acquired after age 7.
In Chapter 9, "Individual Differences in L2 Fluency: Neurobiological Correlates," Dewaele addresses the issues of both intra- and inter-individual variation in L2 fluency from a neurobiological perspective. Examining the relationship among short-term memory (STM), long-term memory (LTM), and working memory (WM) in language processing, Dewaele argues that L2 users may have a shortage of STM capacity. Linking this to individual differences, Dewaele states that extroverted learners may be superior to introverts in STM and that higher anxiety levels have also been linked to introversion. Both of these differences may have neurobiological causes and create more constraints on fluency for introverted learners, especially in more formal and stressful situations.
In Chapter 10, "Language Attrition: Tests, Self- Assessments, and Perceptions," De Bot and Hulsen examine L1 and L2 language loss by analyzing data from both quantitative measurements of language loss and self-reports from L2 users. Based on an analysis of both 1st and 3rd person accounts of L1 and L2 loss, De Bot and Hulsen argue that the language loss is heterogenous across individuals and perceptions about loss are affected by language background, educational level, attitudes towards the L1 and L2, professional activity and possibly age as well.
In Chapter 11, "Poststructuralist Approaches to the Study of Social Factors in Second Language Learning and Use," Pavlenko traces the study of social factors in SLA, beginning with early sociopsychological approaches such as Gardner and Lambert's (1959, 1972) work on motivation and attitudes, and Schumann's Acculturation Model (1978) in order to frame the emergence of poststructuralist perspectives on social factors and the advantages of the poststructuralist approach over earlier frameworks. Pavlenko also discusses three key aspects of poststructuralist approaches - view of language, view of learning, and view of L2 learners.
In Chapter 12, "Second Language Learners' Rights," Gomes de Matos first defines a learner's right as "a new humanising quality experienced by a person as a result of an educational decision or policy" (p. 307) and then the historical development of the recognition of learners' rights. Gomes de Matos also provides a typology of learners' rights based on 12 open-ended criteria including age, performance level, learners' strategies and preferences, and language and cultural background. A list of specific linguistic rights in the areas of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar is also provided. Gomes de Matos concludes by providing an open-ended checklist to help language educators, curriculum planners, and policy makers to include learners' rights into teacher training and curriculum development.
In Chapter 13, "Language Teaching Methodology and the L2 User Perspective," the concluding chapter, Cook discusses the consequences that a shift to an L2 user perspective has on teaching methodology and syllabus design. After a brief overview of 20th century teaching methodology, Cook discusses the nature of the L2 user, and then links the L2 user to teaching methodology by outlining a series of principles for language teaching that take the L2 user perspective into consideration.
By shifting the focus from what L2 learners lack or cannot not do in comparison with monolingual native speakers (e.g., the deficit model), to a recognition that L2 users should be studied in their own right for what they can do, this volume makes an important contribution to second language theory, methodology, and pedagogy. The volume, the first to focus entirely on the L2 user and various aspects of L2 users' knowledge, marks an important shift in how we understand, describe, and prescribe, through language teaching, the process and product of second language acquisition as well as the norms and goals of this process. The volume also adds a new and rich dimension to current discussions of the native speaker construct (cf. Kachru & Nelson, 1996), non-native speaking teachers (cf. Braine, 1999), and the internationalization of languages such as English (cf. Jenkins, 2000). As such, this is an important volume for both language researchers and teachers. The volume would also be an excellent textbook for second language acquisition courses as each chapter is written by an expert(s) in a given area and provides a solid introduction to a particular area of research as well as an extensive reference list.
Bialystok, E. (1991). Metalinguistic dimensions of bilingual language proficiency. In E. Bialystok (ed.) Language processing in bilingual children (pp. 113-140). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bialystok, E. (2001). Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy, and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Braine, G. (1999). Non-native educators in English language teaching Mahwah, NJ Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Cook, V. (1991). The poverty-of-the-stimulus argument and multi-competence. Second Language Research 7 (2),103- 117.
Gardner, R., & Lambert, W. (1959). Motivational variables in second-language acquisition. Canadian Journal of Psychology 13, 266-272.
Gardner, R., & Lambert, W. (1972). Attitudes and motivation in second language learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Genesee, F. (1989). Early bilingual development: One language or two? Journal of Child Language16, 161-179.
Jenkins, J. (2000). The phonology of English as an international language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kachru, B. B., & Nelson, C. (1996). World Englishes. In S. L. McKay & N. H. Hornberger, (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and language teaching (pp. 71-102). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Klein, W. & Perdue, C. (1997). The basic variety. Or: Couldn't natural languages be much simpler? Second Language Research 13(4), 301-347.
Major, R. (2001). Foreign accent: The ontogeny and phylogeny of second language phonology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Schumann, J. (1978). The acculturation model for second language acquisition. In R. Gingras (Ed.), Second language acquisition and foreign language teaching (pp. 27-50). Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Jette G. Hansen is Assistant Professor of English Language/Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) at the University of Arizona. Her research interests include the acquisition of an L2 phonology, gender and second language acquisition, and literacy development.