Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Essay Sample for Free

Published: 2017-10-12 01:06:07
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The U-shaped Acquisition

U-shaped learning is the pattern of learning where an individual starts from a high level then descends before ascending again. U-shaped patterns of language are a reflection of three main stages of linguistic use. During the first stage of development, learners generate some linguistic forms aligned to target-like (TL) norms. In the second stage, learners seem to lose what they learnt in the first stage. At stage 2, the linguistic behavior differs from the TL norms. The third level resembles the first stage with a characteristic correct use of TL norms (Gass, 2013, p288).

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These changes form a critical movement of skills forming a U-shape in a graphical representation hence the name. In second language learning, one starts from having skills and an understanding of the language before they start getting lessons on the second language. The level of their skills descends since they start getting insights in another foreign language. After understanding the fundamental attributes of the new language they develop skills in the new language that is essential for the learning process.


Gass, S. M. (2013). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. Routledge. Retrieved on 19th September, 2016 from:


Reinforcement is a form of machine learning where machines and software determine the ideal behavior and give a reward feedback to maximize the level of performance by an individual (Larsen-Freeman & Long, 2014). Reinforcement also involves generating rewards after accomplishment of language learning activity successfully. In second language learning process, it can be used to ensure that one develops their skills by integrating to different levels depending on the responses given. The machine would give the individual permission to move to the next stage as the reward. A learner can learn better if positioned in an environment where everyone speaks the L2 language. Besides, individual learners who receive positive reinforcement after doing something correct are likely to excel in their language learning prospects (Gass, 2013).


Gass, S. M. (2013). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. Routledge. Retrieved on 19th September, 2016 from:

Larsen-Freeman, D., & Long, M. H. (2014). An introduction to second language acquisition research. Routledge. Retrieved on 19th September, 2016 from:

Critical Period

This is defined as the stage in a person’s lifespan when they should acquire a specific skill since when the window passes they may not effectively acquire the skill set that is required (DeKeyser, 2000). It is mainly used in developmental psychology since once an individual misses a specific developmental stage they may lack the ability to develop these traits in future. In second language learning, it is used in giving an indication of words or basics that should be learnt before moving to the next stage since failure may mean an individual may not the skills in future.


DeKeyser, R. M. (2000). The robustness of critical period effects in second language acquisition. Studies in second language acquisition, 22(04), 499-533. Retrieved on 19th September, 2016 from:


As the word suggests it is the process of cementing or creating a background and basis for developing specific skills (Gass, 2013). Stabilization entails augmenting the individual traits required through developing and giving basic skills to an individual. Stabilization ensures that one gains insights and develops their skill set further. It is essential in second language learning since it gives an individual the basis to develop their skills and learn different aspects of language.


Gass, S. M. (2013). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. Routledge. Retrieved on 19th September, 2016 from:

Linguistic Competence

Linguistic competence Refers to the linguistic knowledge that is possessed by a native speaker of a language (Gass, 2013). An individual who has been well versed with a specific language has traits that enable them to be conversant and have the underlying ability needed to be good in the language. Native speakers have the characteristics and traits that are required to master the linguistic forms and aspects of a language. Linguistic competence as the main concerns of modern linguistics create emphasis on what speakers know compared to what they do on certain occasions. The first factor to consider regarding linguistic competence is the reduction of differences in the ability between different SL learners (Gass, 2013).


Gass, S. M. (2013). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. Routledge. Retrieved on 19th September, 2016 from:

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