I’ve recently been giving a lot of thought to ‘acquisition’ versus ‘learning’ of a second (or subsequent) language. In brief, the difference is related to communicative competence versus “explicit rule-based grammar teaching” (Lightbown & Spada, 2013, p. 193). (For more on the distinction, click here). In my mind, acquisition is perhaps the longer-lasting state or the point at which conscious rule-based practice becomes automatic communication, as in Skill Acquisition Theory.
The tale of becoming bilingual is like that of Tantalus reaching towards that succulent fruit and watching it retreat from his grasp—one never feels quite able to achieve semantic satisfaction. Few know the myth of second language acquisition, but herein lies the tale of how man learned to speak in tongues.
Language giveth and it taketh away.
In second language acquisition studies, language learner identity has evolved from being spoken about with a static description based on language ability to a dynamic one that is also socially and individually constructed. Within a structuralist framework, identity is a stable or fixed state of being in which life events build upon a person’s sense of self, subjectivity, or belonging. Within a post-structuralist framework, identity is fluid and multidimensional, and it is explored through social interactions and discourses. Continue reading
I believe in scholarship. I keep the words “scholar” and “scholarship” in a special separate compartment in my head, adjacent to but not quite touching words like “academic” and “university”. Anybody can be a scholar (at least according to this idiosyncratic vision of mine), no matter what else they happen to do, or how they earn their living. Or what class, colour, gender, ethnic origin (etc) they happen to be. It takes a lot of time, and may not be compatible with being highly social (this is probably idiosyncratic again, just because I’m not very social myself), but I truly think that anybody who takes the time to think and read and reflect seriously about things, pretty much anything, can call themself (I need this gender-neutral third-person singular reflexive pronoun!) a scholar.