Late Acquired

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11 thoughts on “Late Acquired”

  1. I’ve been thinking about this one recently. I’ve begun to actively think about two aspects of language I’m providing:
    – some language that I think they will acquire soon (at least 80% of the students, at 80% or better)
    – some language that I think they will comprehend but not acquire yet (again at least 80% of the students about 80% of the time)
    So I’m now aware & very intentionally using some language for a long time before I’m “testing” it for their acquisition. I treat it like everything else they hear or read: they need to show comprehension. I’m not asking them to produce anything with it; giving opportunity sometimes. In Chinese 1, a big example is numbers 1-99 (after you know 1-10, in Chinese up through 99 is the same pattern). I have only tested them on 1, 2, 3 to this point, by which I mean I expected them to read those numbers on a quiz and understand. Some students haven’t acquired the rest solidly yet and some already have. We use them to talk about the date & time almost every class. That’s not really a late acquired type of example, but the same process, maybe?

    1. This (if I understand you correctly) is exactly where I’m at with this and how I’m approaching CI Diane. Thanks for articulating it.
      An example: I never expect my students to output or to understand the Perfect tenses in my levels 1 or 2. Nevertheless, I use them when I need to, make sure they understand what I’m saying when I say them (I ask or write it down), but don’t worry about getting tons of reps on it yet simply because there’s other stuff I choose to target. I probably won’t focus on it more til I feel they can effortlessly, quickly and spontaneously output the top 100 words. But I don’t shelter it. I can tell that a few kids are picking it up and may start using it in writing (and speech?) intelligibly if given another 100 hours of this kind of targeted/non-targeted input.
      btw, I’ve been mentioning the past year that my son is still using direct object pronouns for 3rd person where he should be using “he/she/they”. He’s still doing it. We often do the “Oh, he is sad” thing, modeling the correct usage. It’s pointless, hasn’t produced the results one might be looking for (though it is no doubt building up his implicit understanding of the differences). He’s doing some other amazing things with language, but hasn’t acquired this “basic” aspect of the language. He’ll get it… why would I worry he won’t?

      1. “modeling the correct usage. It’s pointless”
        As my linguistics professor, Howard Lasnik repeatedly said RE correction and modelling of children’s speech, “They are incorrigible.” Your son will switch from “Him go” to “He goes” when they are ready for it. And he may be correcting you before it’s over. What I have in mind is the following conversation between my daughter and me.
        For the longest time she referred to her cousin Rachel as “Ray-ray.” One day I said,
        “Are you going to Ray-ray’s house?”
        She: Do you call her Ray-ray?
        I: Yes. What do you call her?
        She: I call her Rachel.
        From then on her cousin would be Rachel.

  2. For me, the problem with the textbook has not been that it presents certain items early but that it expects output on them both early and quickly without allowing for any sort of silent period on it or acknowledging that it might be late acquired.
    Several years ago at the Sweet Briar German TPRS conference, we discussed this very idea, and it made a lot of sense: perhaps some items are late acquired because they simply need more exposure time. Thus, if we delay presenting them, we delay acquiring them. The difference, then, is not in timing of initial presentation but in the nature of the presentation (natural language vs a planned “grammar lesson”) and the expectation from the students (recognition rather than production).
    Just my thoughts on the matter.

  3. Robert you say what Catharina said:
    …perhaps some items are late acquired because they simply need more exposure time….
    All it means to me is that we don’t target the late acquired stuff in stories. But the idea that it’s about the role of time, because that’s how the unconscious mind wants to do it, is simple and makes a lot of sense to me. And it sure fits in with our discussion about time being the biggest factor in acquisition. Didn’t Malcolm Gladwell make this point in a book? It’s just another strike against the conscious analytical faculty in language learning, and another big support point for Krashen’s Natural Order hypothesis.

  4. Jeffery Brickler

    I was thinking the very same thing that Robert said. Why not use late acquired stuff, if they can understand it? Get it going asap! It’s our expectations that we should shelter. We can’t expect them to do correctly certain aspects of language. Noun Adjective agreement in Latin or German. Forget it! They won’t get this correct 100% of the time. Too complex. I used to teach noun adjective agreement very early when I taught traditionally. Kids never got it. Every year more analysis and more charts and more gimmicks. If if they understood the concept (big IF), they couldn’t do it without looking at a grammar chart.
    I say, let’s use it and if they understand, no problem.

  5. …I used to teach noun adjective agreement very early when I taught traditionally. Kids never got it….
    For this reason, and it is a true statement that few kids get the grammar, if it was a business, those grammar teachers would be fired.

    1. Krashen has repeatedly made arguments for why the existence of a Natural Order doesn’t mean we would ever want to teach along it (unlike SLA researcher Pienemann). Here’s some of the reasons I recall:
      1. we only know the order of a handful of morphological items (the Natural Order only considers morphology, not the whole of a grammar, e.g. syntax)
      2. those aspects that we know have been mostly studied in only the English language
      3. students will be at different places (i) in the classroom (practically, how would you ever know and offer every student i+1? – hence the idea of casting a net)
      4. For reason #3 and the fact that multiple aspects can be simultaneously acquired, it makes it inefficient to target aspects to force into acquisition.
      I think the amount of CI on the aspect to be acquired is probably a huge factor, but I truly wonder if it’s the only one. Does every grammatical aspect to be acquired require an equal amount of CI time? No. Why not?
      Maybe there is something being acquired on an unconscious level from getting early reps on a late-acquired structure. Maybe not. Krashen says we needn’t worry about that if we just give them enough CI. Since we don’t have the time to give “enough” we worry about prioritizing structures.
      It’s complex. It’s not all-or-nothing (acquired or not). There are developmental stages. Errors can signify development, depending on the type of error. And even in the research, “acquired” has to be defined, I think sometimes as 75% accurate use in must-use situations.
      VanPatten has attempted to outline certain faulty ways we process input, e.g. not processing that stuff that holds little meaning or is redundant. By that reasoning, you could give tons of CI, but students may still not be processing every word for correct form-meaning links.
      As for the article’s example of ser vs. estar: the semantic difference and usage of these two words is NOT (I don’t think) something that gets measured in the Natural Order Studies, though the NO studies suggest the existence of a Natural Order for other aspects. I think teaching words with similar meanings and/or form, such as ser vs estar, together is a big mistake due to interference (kids can remember they mean “is” but can’t remember which is which). Textbooks and teachers make the same mistake with “por” vs. “para.” Teachers unintentionally make things harder on the students. Plus, traditional teachers give such little meaningful context (such little CI), that kids have to depend on conscious analysis. I don’t stress these differences and I hear kids correctly use them all the time. So, some things we thought were “late-acquired” may be more due to the way they were taught.

  6. This makes me wonder exactly what “late-acquired” means. I had always understood it to mean that the brain needs many, many more reps of that structure in a comprehensible context before it is part of the speaker’s lexicon. From that idea, I assumed that the earlier the exposure, the better. It’s necessary to start early in order to build up the necessary number of reps. Using that logic, if it takes more reps, but isn’t introduced until late, we’ve deprived students of the time/reps needed before acquisition truly occurs.
    But I could see how “late-acquired” means that the brain can only integrate this structure once a number of levels of the language have already been laid down for the structure to connect to.
    I’m sure this has been defined by Krashen, but because I assumed I understood it, I’ve never researched it. Krashen experts, can you help?
    with love,
    and obviously always learning!

    1. I’m curious about this, too. I think it would be hard to figure out if certain structures are acquired later because they need more reps or because something else needs to be acquired first. Or a combination of the two… It reminds me of the more philosophical theory that people can’t “hear” things until they’re ready to hear them.
      At the conference in Maine, you (Laurie–pretty sure it was you!) made an analogy between individual readiness to acquire language and teacher readiness to change from traditional teaching to teaching using TPRS/CI. You encouraged us to not only love and accept our students regardless of their individual levels of language acquisition, but to be patient and loving with ourselves and our colleagues wherever we are at in our readiness to change how we teach.
      To continue the analogy, I would think that reps make a big difference–you definitely can’t acquire something without being exposed to it. But if you’re not ready to acquire it, all the reps in the world won’t get you there. If you’re a teacher that believes in your heart that you are already teaching the best way that there is, you need to be open to the possibility that there might be a better way to teach before you can understand/hear anything about a better possible way.

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