Pienemann's Processability Theory

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Pienemann's Processability Theory (1998) claims that the speech production of a language learner at the time is an in dication of his/her limitation to process information. That is, while the native speaker's speech processing is automatic and is able to construct sentences without paying attention to grammatical items such as number, case, gender and person, the L2 learner must pay attention to grammatical items at the beginning of language acquisition. The locus of this kind of attention is at the working memory level and its capacity is highly limited. L2 learners' speech production, accordingly, is limited by the interaction between working memory capacity and the limited time for information processing during the course of speech production.…show more content…
This is the logic undelyning PT (Pienemann , Keßler &Itani-Adams, 2011).
In summary, the following are the major claims made by PT.
• PT enlightens both universal stages of L2 development and individual variation within stages. The Hypothesis Space proposed within the PT framework (Pienemann, 1998b) specifically accounts for the possible range of interlanguage variation under the leeway of processability available at a given point in L2 development.
• Formal teaching may affect the rate of L2 acquisition and ultimate attainment, but it cannot alter the hypothesized universal L2 acquisition sequence. This principle is formulated as the Teachability Hypothesis (Pienemann, 1984, 1987, 1989,
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In such a way, learning a language requires a slow and progressive acquisition of language specific processing procedures in line with Levelt (1989). This concept of language performance is supplemented by a theory of grammar; PT is founded on Lexical-functional grammar (Bresnan, 1982), a model of grammar that displays many of the psycholinguistic principles which are available in Levelt’s (1989) theory of language production. The main procedures involved in the Grammatical Encoder, lemma activation, category procedure, phrasal procedure, s-procedure, and subordinate clause procedure, and the mechanism of feature matching produce the foundation for the PT hierarchy of acquisition for second language learners. PT anticipates that although second language learners have all procedures in their first language available to them (L1), they must learn language specific procedures for the L2. Irrespective of their L1 or L2, PT predicts that L2 learners learn the five procedures in the same incremental order in which they are accessed for mature
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