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Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition

Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition

Prof. Vivian Cook | Prof. David Singleton


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This textbook offers an introductory overview of eight hotly-debated topics in second language acquisition research. It offers a glimpse of how SLA researchers have tried to answer common questions about second language acquisition rather than being a comprehensive introduction to SLA research. Each chapter comprises an introductory discussion of the issues involved and suggestions for further reading and study. The reader is asked to consider the issues based on their own experiences, thus allowing them to compare their own intuitions and experiences with established research findings and gain an understanding of methodology. The topics are treated independently so that they can be read in any order that interests the reader.

The topics in question are:

• how different languages connect in the mind;

• whether there is a best age for learning a second language;

• the importance of grammar in acquiring and using a second language;

• how the words of a second language are acquired;

• how people learn to write in a second language;

• how attitude and motivation help in learning a second language;

• the usefulness of second language acquisition research for language teaching;

• the goals of language teaching.

This book provides a welcome, very readable introduction to second language learning, angled at university students as well as those with a general interest in the subject. It is also very teacher-friendly. Readers will not only be suitably informed but will also find plenty to intrigue them about language and its acquisition.

Mike Sharwood-Smith, Academy of Social Sciences, Warsaw, Poland

Vibrant, prescient, honest, enjoyable… such is the view of SLA that Cook and Singleton have crafted in this unmatchable book! The palette of 8 topics covers yet transcends the box of traditional SLA and the wealth of interactive illustrations fully situates adult language acquisition in present-day realities. A must-own SLA title.

Lourdes Ortega, Georgetown University, USA

This excellent volume offers a clear and engaging description of central topics in second language acquisition research, and highlights the connection between research findings, formal and informal learning contexts, and teaching practices. I have no doubt that this volume will soon become an invaluable resource for teachers and students alike.

Gessica De Angelis, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Cook and Singleton’s book succinctly addresses many pressing questions asked by both novices and experts in the field of SLA and could be a useful tool in an introductory SLA course.

Robert Cote, The University of Arizona, USA

Vivian Cook is Emeritus Professor, Newcastle University, UK. He has been researching in the fields of second language acquisition and writing systems for over 45 years and was founding President of the European Second Language Association (EUROSLA).

David Singleton is Professor, University of Pannonia, Hungary and Fellow Emeritus, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. He has published widely on second language acquisition, multilingualism and lexicology and is the series editor for the SLA series published by Multilingual Matters.

This book constitutes a prime example of a well-written introduction to the undoubtedly highly complex, interdisciplinary and multifaceted domain of second language acquisition research, being at the same time accessible, readable and simply engaging.

Mirosław Pawlak, Adam Mickiewicz University, Kalisz, Poland

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Contents v
Boxes vii
Introduction xi
1 How Do Different Languages Connect in Our Minds? 1
2 Is There a Best Age for Learning a Second Language? 17
3 How Do People Acquire the Words of a Second Language? 37
4 How Important is Grammar in Acquiring and Using a Second Language? 55
5 How Do People Learn to Write in a Second Language? 73
6 How Do Attitude and Motivation Help in Learning a Second Language? 89
7 How Useful is Second Language Acquisition Research for Language Teaching? 109
8 What are the Goals of Language Teaching? 125
Epilogue 143
Glossary 145
Index 149