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September 30, 2005
- The Study of Second Language Acquisition by Rod Ellis (1994) Oxford: Oxford University Press
This book is a typical introductory book in the field of SLA (second language acquisition). This book covers SLA from various points of view, such as linguistic, cognitive, pragmatic, sociolinguistic, educational aspects, and individual differences in learning. In addition, it explains most theories in SLA and their problems. One can use it as the starting point of one's study on SLA, and also, as a reference book throughout one's study. The best feature of this book is that the author has given a detailed account of second language acquisition intelligibly with a large number of examples.
This book starts by introducing the definition and the general framework of SLA in order to examine the key issues of second language acquisition research. It provides basic knowledge concerning SLA such as the meaning of 'acquisition' or the difference between SLA and foreign language acquisition. Although these explanations might be too matter of course for people who have some knowledge about SLA, they are necessary for the beginners. Also a brief explanation of the contents at the beginning in this book helps to speed up ones? understanding of second language acquisition research.
The next chapter focuses on the description of the learning language process such as learners? error, developmental patterns, variability, and pragmatic features, along with learners' progress. We sometimes think using the target language inappropriately is shameful conduct. According to Ellis, however, it is rather natural and necessary for developing language acquisition.
The subsequent three chapters explain the factors which affect the second language learners: the external environment, the learners? knowledge and internal mechanism, and individual differences. These chapters provide an overview of the principal aspects which the second language researchers and teachers need to understand when considering the effective SLA.
The following chapter considers the classroom in SLA. It builds on the general issues raised earlier in the book. This section focuses on the research of classroom interaction from two perspectives: inside the actual classroom and outside the classroom in order to understand the fundamental instruction in SLA.
The final chapter endeavours to examine a number of current issues in second language acquisition research. These issues suggest the need for further research.
Some information in this book might be a little dated. A revised edition would be welcome including up-to-date research, especially, fields of socio-linguistics and neuro-linguistics which have progressed remarkably recently. Also, in this globalised society, the people who learn a second language have a wide range of nationalities and ages in English, there is the rapidly growing 'outer' and 'expanding' circles. Therefore, there may be a necessity to re-consider and up-date some parts such as learners' developmental patterns or class-room settings to fit their situations. Moreover, the research from different stand points concerning SLA could be included: the problems of multi-lingual societies or the psychological effect of second language acquisition on learners, for example.
However, there may still be no comparable book that covers the whole field of SLA. After reading this book, we can realise SLA can be considered from a wide range of perspectives. It is no exaggeration to say that reading this book can be the first step to a successful career in the research of SLA.