Social Values of Second Language Acquisition Research

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Peter Kim


This forum is dedicated to the discussion on the social values of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research and is motivated by talks organized in the Fall of 2018 by Columbia University, Teachers College Center for International Foreign Language Teacher Education (CIFLTE): two talks by Professor Weiguo Zhang of Shandong University and a talk by Professor Lourdes Ortega of Georgetown University. Historically, SLA research has investigated the linguistic and cognitive phenomena of language transfer, staged developments, and systematicity and variability of the learner’s interlanguage. Such inquiry has led to empirical studies that explored the role of one’s internal mechanisms (both language-specific and cognitive), the role of the mother tongue, the role of psychological variables and lastly, the role of the second language (L2) learner’s social and environmental factors. Due to the field’s reliance on drawing inspiration from psycholinguistic traditions, the latter factors of social and environmental influences had typically received little limelight within the SLA community. However, this trend is starting to change as the discussion on the meaning and the significance of social values in language research is beginning to take shape among SLA scholars.

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