local studies of the effects of foreign literature on reading comprehension

Topics: Linguistics, Language acquisition, Second language acquisition Pages: 9 (2618 words) Published: March 6, 2014
This chapter comprises six main sections that summarize the theoretical and empirical knowledge base regarding second language development and academic achievement in a second language. At the end of each main section,4 there is a summary synthesizing studies and highlighting key findings relevant to the present study. The first section reviews selected second language acquisition theories that reflect representative, current trends in the field and provide a theoretical foundation for the study. The second section focuses on defining language proficiency and reviews relevant studies illuminating linguistic factors implicated in ELLs' schooling. The third section summarizes the language learning strategy research base. The fourth section identifies relevant theories and research regarding motivation for learning a second language and makes connections among motivation, language learning strategies, and proficiency. The fifth section reviews studies that have examined academic achievement in second language. The last section summarizes the present study's variables as generated from this review of the literature.

Second Language Acquisition
Defining the Field
Second language acquisition (SLA) is an interdisciplinary field that is both historically old and new (Gass & Seliker, 2008). The field is old because the nature of 4 Except the first section which integrates theory and empirical findings throughout. 16

second language learning and teaching has fascinated scholars for centuries. In more modem terms, SLA is a young discipline which, beginning in the 1960s, distinguished itself from applied linguistics and education (Long, 2006). SLA focuses on second language (L2), as well as second dialect, learning and loss by children and adults. As formulated by Saville-Troike (2006), SLA seeks to answer three main questions: ( a) "What exactly does the L2 learner know?" (b) "How does the learner acquire this knowledge?" and (c) "Why are some learners more successful than others?" (p. 24). From its beginnings, SLA has taken a multidisciplinary approach and drawn on other established disciplines including education, linguistics, psychology, anthropology, and sociology (Gass & Seliker, 2008).

The theoretical rationales in considering the connections between SLA and academic achievement research are twofold. First, as discussed in Chapter 1, a current focus in educational literature is on linguistic factors implicated in ELLs' schooling. In fact, many scholars find it difficult to distinguish between language proficiency and academic competence (Abedi & Lord, 2001; Solorzano, 2008); some scholars speak in terms of academic English development (SchleppegreU, 2004) or of academic achievement in second language (Collier, 1987; Collier & Thomas, 1989). Second, language learning strategies, the primary variable of interest to this study, have been chiefly examined from the SLA perspective.

Selected SLA Theoretical Frameworks
Language as a faculty of the mind. Early research on second language (L2) development was strongly influenced by research on first language (L 1) acquisition and by nativist linguistic theories. Nativist theories posit that language acquisition is 17

accomplished through the use of innate linguistic abilities. Many nativists assert that L 1 and L2 acquisition are similar in that they rely on essentially the same processes. Chomsky (1959) hypothesized that language learners construct a theory of grammar from linguistic input using a "built-in," genetically endowed hypothesisforming device, also known as the language faculty or the language acquisition device (LAD). Contrary to then-popular behaviorist ideas (Skinner, 1957), Chomsky argued that language acquisition cannot be solely attributed to learning through stimulus-responsereinforcement mechanisms. First, he pointed out that proficient speakers of a language can produce and comprehend novel, unheard-of sentences. Rather than a...
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