Second/Foreign Language Learning as a Social Accomplishment: Elaborations on a Reconceptualized SLA

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Abstract

In this article, we begin by delineating the background to and motivations behind Firth and Wagner (1997), wherein we called for a reconceptualization of second language acquisition (SLA) research. We then outline and comment upon some of our critics' reactions to the article. Next we review and discuss the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological impact the article has had on the SLA field. Thereafter, we reengage and develop some of the themes raised but left undeveloped in the 1997 article. These themes cluster around the notions of and interrelationships between language use, language learning, and language acquisition. Although we devote space to forwarding the position that the dichotomy of language use and acquisition cannot defensibly be maintained (and in this we take up a contrary position to that held in mainstream SLA), our treatment of the issues is essentially methodological. We focus on describing a variety of aspects of learning-in-action, captured in transcripts of recordings of naturally occurring foreign, second, or other language interactions. Through transcript analyses, we explore the possibilities of describing learning-in-action devoid of cognitivistic notions of language and learning. In so doing, we advance moves to formulate and establish a reconceptualized SLA.

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