Instructed SLA: what kind of research is needed?

What kind of research can inform second or foreign language teaching? One paper that tackles these issues is by Mike Long (2017), a leading figure in second language acquisition (SLA) research, which appeared in the first issue of the new, open-access journal Instructed Second Language Acquisition (ISLA). Long argues that geopolitical factors make language learning an important concern for many, and thus increase the need for effective teaching based on SLA (and indeed for better SLA). He reviews some methodological innovations (eye-tracking studies, L2 repositories) and argues for a cognitivist-interactionist view of language learning which prioritises implicit learning .

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I summarised this article in two posts in ELT Research Bites published at the end of the year.

What is instructed second language acquisition? (Part 1)

In the first post, we look at Long’s definition of ISLA, showing how it includes some language teaching concerns but not others. He compares basic, controlled, and applied research in biochemistry and second language teaching: only the shaded cells below are relevant to ISLA.

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What is instructed second language acquisition? (Part 2)

The second part of the article explains why implicit language learning is favoured by second language researchers. We consider what this might mean for teachers.

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My thanks to Anthony Schmidt for the invitation to contribute to ELT Research Bites and helpful editorial suggestions on these posts.

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