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Competition Model

  1. Ping Li,
  2. Brian MacWhinney

Published Online: 5 NOV 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0168

The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics

How to Cite

Li, P. and MacWhinney, B. 2012. Competition Model. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 NOV 2012


The competition model (CM) made its debut in Bates and MacWhinney (1982) as a mechanistic explanation of language acquisition. Since its inception, there have been a large number of studies using this framework to account for not only language acquisition but also language comprehension, language production, and impaired language processes. Because the CM distinguishes itself from many other psycholinguistic theories in its emphasis on language variation, the model has been applied to the analyses of many typologically different languages, including Chinese, English, German, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, and Spanish, to name a few. Like other scientific hypotheses, the CM has continued to evolve in order to increase its explanatory power (Bates & MacWhinney, 1987, 1989; MacWhinney, in press). Here we first provide an overview of the model and then discuss its application to the study of second language acquisition.


  • psycholinguistics;
  • second language acquisition;
  • interactionist language studies