Pusan University of Foreign Studies

TESOL Program



SLA Term Assignment

1. Topic  Investigation of two L2 language acquirers
2. General Instructions

1. Essay Topic : Investigation of two L2 Language Acquirers

>> all of the conditions below must be met <<

1. Choose two adults (not students in the TESOL course) and prepare a detailed profile describing their acquisition of a second language.

2. Make an hypothesis (or null hypothesis) about what led to the differences and similarities in language acquisition between these two individuals. [Note that the hypothesis in this exercise is more of a focusing tool than a precise instrument of inquiry. It will also be useful to develop a number of sub-hypotheses to deal with particular issues].

3. The subjects should be significantly different individuals in interesting ways (e.g. in age, gender, life experience, aptitude, motivation etc.).

4. The investigation should include some objective evidence or measures of their language achievement and aptitudes (i.e. not just personal opinions). This evidence could include not only formal test results, but actual examples of writing and recordings of speech.

5. The investigation should explore multiple areas of language achievement : that is, speaking (segmental and non-segmental features), listening, reading, writing

6. The investigation should consider both the fluency and accuracy of language used by these individuals;

7. The investigation should consider the size of vocabulary and if possible the use of syntactic complexity .

8. The investigation should measure the language achievement of these individuals against their actual language needs;

9. The investigation should try to establish any changes which occurred in their rate of second language acquisition at different stages of their learning;

10. The investigation should include both a structured questionnaire and open ended interviews.

11. The language acquirers will have to be interviewed several times. Go away with their answers, think about them, develop more questions to inquire further, then come back and re-interview with the follow-up questions. It is a cyclical process. (The first interviews should have been completed by the time the 1st draft of the essay is handed in).

12. The questionnaire and interviews should encourage the subjects to reflect and speculate on their own language achievements in as much detail and depth as possible. In particular, the subjects should be invited to think in detail about their language acquisition and motivation at different points in their lives.

13. Checklist : All essays should include :

a) an introduction which states in a general way what you are aiming to do and explains why the investigation is worthwhile;

b) an hypothesis (or null hypothesis) which states the idea you are investigating. This can be part of the introduction (in this essay, though not in standard research).

c)  a literature statement containing a discussion and evaluation of work by other writers on relevant areas of L2 acquisition and action research processes. Note : any quotation or paraphrase must be followed by your own evaluation of the quotation or paraphrase.

d1) a method statement which says what you did to prove or disprove the hypothesis, and also :

d2) Information on the subjects' age, language level and other relevant background; and also :

d3) Information on the number and type of interviews, questionnaires and tests conducted; and also :

d4) a list of tools you used in your investigation (for example, questionnaire, open-ended interview, any statistical procedures or programs .. etc.). Actual instruments (tools) like a sample questionnaire, can be added as appendices at the end of the essay.

e1) A detailed Results Statement containing : -

e2) A Table 1 comparing each subject's self-evaluation versus objective tests (or other evidence) of their real L2 achievement

e3) Table1 shows separate results for a) speaking, b) listening, c) reading, d) writing, e) vocabulary size. The table should use a scale  of  0-5 (5 is native speaker level). An estimate of the Subjects' use of syntactic complexity would also be useful; (see the article, 'Evaluating Linguistic Difficulty' in the Linguistics section of my website).

e4) A Table 2 comparing each subjects' own judgement of their overall a) fluency and b) accuracy in L2 versus your own judgement of their level. The table should use a scale  of  0-5

f1) A Discussion Section containing A detailed analysis and discussion of the results obtained in Section 4, especially: -

f2) Results of a discussion with both subjects about how their learning methods and feelings about L2 changed at zero, elementary, intermediate (and maybe advanced) levels

f3) Your evaluation of how and why Subject1 and Subject2 may have reached different levels of skill in L2.

f4) Your evaluation of what factors (variables) may have distorted or biased information from the Subjects

g) a Conclusion which states summarizes what you did or discovered.



2. Administration and Preparation

Dates due : 1st draft : week 6 (10% of the essay mark)
                Final draft + 1st draft (again): week 9

Notes : 1. Read the following instructions carefully !! Ignoring them will cost you marks.

2. The essay is worth 25% of your total course mark.

3. All research essays must be individual work, not a team effort by two or more people. The language acquirers chosen for study (see essay topic below) must also be different for each student. That is, no two students should study the same language acquirers.

4. The analysis of results must be explicit and detailed.

5. Students are strongly advised to investigate Internet and library resources for ideas on how similar research has been done in the past.  There are many links on my Internet site to Action Research studies.

6. References used should mentioned in suitable places inside the essay, and listed with full details at the end of the essay.

7. All borrowed ideas must give a full reference for the source (i.e. author, page number, article name, journal or book name, publisher and date). Quotations should be in quotation marks. You must evaluate all quotations and paraphrases in your own words.

8. At the end of the essay make a list of references used. Check an academic journal or technical book to see how to do this.

9. Korean language evidence which is relevant (e.g. interview content) must also be provided in English translation when possible.

10.  It is acceptable to investigate L2 acquisition in a language other than English (e.g. Chinese or Japanese) if you are competent to assess ability in that other language.

11. Essays may be up to several thousand words, but should not be less than 1500 words, excluding corpuses, questionnaires, interview transcripts etc.

12. In week 9 the Final Draft and the First Draft (with my comments) must be handed in together.

13. All essays should be handed in on typed paper AND floppy disk or data CD. Put your name on the floppy disk. You may also include tape recordings if these are useful.

14. Please save all text in Rich Text Format (= .rtf in a computer file. Go to "save as" in your word processor, then select rtf. Any computer program can read rtf).