Introduction: Generative Second Language Acquisition and Language Pedagogy

  • Melinda WhongEmail author
  • Kook-Hee Gil
  • Heather Marsden
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 16)


For the uninitiated, it might seem quite obvious that research in second language acquisition is of relevance to the profession of language teaching. Yet in reality this relationship is not very clear, especially in terms of more formal approaches to second language acquisition and Chomskyan generative second language acquisition (henceforth GenSLA), in particular. From the point of view of language pedagogy, the question of what role theory should play in practice is one of continuous debate. This is not a trivial question; researchers need to isolate variables in order to investigate phenomena. In doing so, the complexity of reality is immediately compromised. Teachers, by contrast, must contend with reality in all of its complexity whether an explanation exists or not. Nevertheless, assuming that being able to explain phenomena means having a better understanding, we take the view that the more classroom instruction is underpinned by an understanding of theoretical principles, the more effective it will be. Accepting, then, that there is a role for theory, there is the added question of which theories. As noted some time ago by Stern (1983), the practice of language teaching implicates assumptions from a number of areas of inquiry ranging from language to learning, to education and to society. Clearly, even if we limit ourselves to language and learning, this still leaves us with a broad arena of research as the range of subfields within these two subjects is as diverse as it is wide.


Word Order Language Acquisition Language Teaching Explicit Instruction Classroom Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics and Phonetics, School of Modern Languages and CulturesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  2. 2.School of English Literature, Language and LinguisticsUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  3. 3.Department of Language and Linguistic ScienceUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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