Processability Theory In Language Acquisition

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Processability theory revisited: A critical approach There are varying ways through which scholars can investigate and explain developmental patterns in language acquisition. One of these ways is to examine whether the learners ' errors change over time. There is some evidence to suggest that this does happen, but error analysis has not been able to provide clear and conclusive evidence of developmental patterns in the learners (Brown, 2000; Ellis, 1985). A second way is to study samples of learner language collected over a period of time so as to identify when specific linguistic features emerge. "According to this approach, acquisition is defined as first occurrence. It has been used extensively in first language acquisition research…show more content…
Processability theory is in fact a universal framework that has the capacity to predict developmental trajectories for any second language. The notion of ‘developmental trajectory’ implies a developmental dimension known as ‘staged development’ as well as a variational dimension which addresses individual learner differences as well (Pienemann, 2008). Pienemann (1988, p. 52) explains the logic underlying Processability theory in this way. At any stage of development, the learner can produce and comprehend only those L2 linguistic forms which the current state of the language processor can handle. It is therefore crucial to understand the architecture of the language processor and the way in which it handles a second language. This enables one to predict the course of development of L2 linguistic forms in language production and comprehension across languages. The architecture of the language processor (Levelt 's 1989 model) accounts for language processing in real time and within human psychological constraints such as word access and human memory. The incorporation of the language processor in the study of second language acquisition therefore brings to have a set of human psychological constraints that are crucial for the processing of languages" (p. 52). It follows that predictions can be made for language development which can be tested…show more content…
132). Processability is a theoretical term coined by Piennemann (1998) and is a further development of his teachability hypothesis (1984). Processability theory links psychology and linguistics in a very direct way as it examines what we know about languages, through their description, with the mechanisms that the human brain has for dealing with linguistic information. In that sense, it is a truly ‘applied linguistics’ theory. The theory posits that the human brain has a linguistic processor which has constraints in its ability to perform certain processing routines (Macaro, Vanderplank, &

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