Tag Archives: Acquisition
The Bilingual Brain

Loraine Obler – City University of New York Graduate Center
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2336 Mason Hall

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For a century and a half ,data have been gathered on brain organization for language. From early on, as this research was initially carried out primarily in Europe, questions have been asked about how language is represented and processed in the brains of bilinguals and multilinguals. In this class we will review the questions that have been asked and the currently held answers concerning how brains handle more than one language. After an initial review of brain regions that have been identified as crucial for language generally and methods for studying them, topics will include a selection of the following:

- Parallel and differential impairment and recovery from aphasia in bilinguals

- Consequences of age of L2 acquisition

- Consequences of age of diminishment of L 1 or L2 use (e.g., in heritage-language speakers)

- Bilingual switching

- Cognitive advantages of bilingualism

- Talented L2 learning and hyperpolyglots

- Particular difficulties with L2 learning (links to dyslexia)

- L1 and L2 attrition

- Shared and distinct components of the bilingual’s two languages (e.g., cognates vs. non-cognates; bidialectalism vs. bilingualism)

- Differences between bilingualism and multilingualism

- Bilingualism in Alzheimer’s disease

Our focus will be not only on the phenomena of interest, but also on how neurolinguistic methods lead to findings and what the relative advantages and disadvantages of the commonly used techniques are.

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Usage-based Models of First and Second Language Acquisition

Nick Ellis – University of Michigan
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 1:30-3:20 pm
2336 Mason Hall

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This course develops a constructionist approach to First and Second Language Acquisition (L1A, L2A). It presents psycholinguistic and corpus linguistic evidence for L2 constructions and for the inseparability of lexis, grammar, and semantics. It outlines a psycholinguistic theory of language learning following general cognitive principles of category learning, with schematic constructions emerging from usage. It reviews how the following factors jointly determine how a construction is learned: (1) the exemplar frequencies and their Zipfian distribution; (2) the salience of their form; (3) the significance of their functional interpretation; (4) the exemplars’ similarity to the construction prototype; and (5) the reliability of these form-function mappings. It tests these proposals against large corpora of usage and longitudinal corpora of L1 and L2 learner language using statistical and computational modelling. It considers the psychology of transfer and learned attention in L2A in order to understand how L2A differs from L1A in that it involves reconstructing language, with learners’ expectations and attentional biases tuned by experience of their L1. A central theme of the course is that patterns of language usage, structure, acquisition, and change are emergent, and that there is value in viewing Language as a Complex Adaptive System.

Week 1: Constructions, their cognition and acquisition

Week 2: A frequency-informed construction grammar of English usage

Week 3: Construction learning in L1A and L2A longitudinal corpora

Week 4: L2A, learned attention, and transfer and their implications for instruction.

Course Areas: Language Acquisition, Semantics/Pragmatics, Psycholinguistics, Corpus Linguistics, Cognitive Linguistics

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