Oral Second Language Abilities as Expertise

  • Martin Bygate

Abstract

Ericsson introduces a book on expertise with the words:

In every domain of expertise, many start on the ‘road to excellence’ but few reach the highest levels of achievement and performance. (1996, p. 1)

In many ways this statement appears not to apply to language. Most people are fluent speakers of their languages, and by the way they use them, they define what it is to be a proficient speaker. Yet when we consider closely the experiences of second language learners, things are not so straightforward. Although it is true that second language users contribute to defining what it is to be proficient in their second language, there are nevertheless good grounds for distinguishing quite significant differences between the levels of achievement and performance of many second language speakers. The differences seem to range across the whole complex of oral language abilities, from discourse to phonology, and expertise studies are centrally concerned to understand such differences from a holistic perspective.

Keywords

Expense Metaphor 

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© Martin Bygate 2005

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  • Martin Bygate

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