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Lexical Chunking and Language Acquisition Theory Research (Research Proposal Sample)


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Research Proposal: Lexical Chunking and Language Acquisition Theory: Implications for English Language TeachingBy: NameCourseInstructorInstitutionLocationDate
Table of Contents TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u 1. Introduction PAGEREF _Toc385325314 \h 11.1 Research questions PAGEREF _Toc385325315 \h 22. Literature Review PAGEREF _Toc385325316 \h 32.1 Theories of language acquisition PAGEREF _Toc385325317 \h 32.2 Lexical chunking PAGEREF _Toc385325318 \h 53. Methodology PAGEREF _Toc385325319 \h 73.1 Study design PAGEREF _Toc385325320 \h 73.2 Data collection PAGEREF _Toc385325321 \h 83.3 Data analysis PAGEREF _Toc385325322 \h 84. Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc385325323 \h 9Bibliography PAGEREF _Toc385325324 \h 10Annotated Bibliography PAGEREF _Toc385325325 \h 11
1. Introduction
Language is primary in the learning and teaching of every subject. Whereas a teacher uses language to aid students in learning content, students use language in exploring content and communicate what they have learnt (Gass 2013). It is therefore worth mentioning that theories of language learning can be spotted in practice in every language-teaching classroom. Teachers depend on a blend of intuitive theories of how individual pupils learn, their recollections of their own language learning, and formal theories presented to them during professional training (Ellis 2003). Their intuitions are undoubtedly gained somewhat through experience, partly through discussion with others in the profession and relatively through more or less indirect instruction from textbooks and other pedagogically-structured materials. Many a time, it is difficult to discern the theoretical origins of their practices, but the latter are predominantly consistent and therefore driven by their theories.
Lexical approach has opened up new exhilarating directions for pedagogical implementation and produced outpouring interest in lexical approaches to teaching (Lewis 1997). Traditionally, language is categorised into vocabulary and grammar. During the days of generative grammar, the lexicon was not considered to be of great significance. For that reason, lexical items were presented using similar rules that were used to interpret linguistic structure (Lewis 2000). The relative neglect of studies of vocabulary acquisition and allied areas of lexical research in language acquisition has continually been commented on within the fields of language teaching as well as applied linguistics. Regardless of any linguist’s theoretical perspective, the lexicon is a key component of language (Gass 2013, p.194). Knowledge of the lexicon of a language is generally seen as the core of knowledge of that language, since lexical items contribute centrally not only to the meaning of the sentence but to the aspects of its form as well. As a result, the proposed research pays more attention to lexis within English language teaching.
1.1 Research questions
The proposed research seeks to answer the following question:
* What is the connection between the learners’ competence in lexical chunks and their production of language?
* If there is a relation between the two variables, what are some of the pedagogical implications of utilising lexical chunks instruction on learners’ acquisition of English language?
* Could the lexical approach be applied in a culture that is used to the Prepare- Practice- Produce culture?
It is important to note that lexical chunking is increasingly becoming a prevalent technique in the teaching of vocabularies. Perhaps, this is for the reason that the retrieval and processing of lexical chunks take place wholesomely thereby improving language fluency and substantially speeds up the processing of language (Nattinger and DeCarrico 1992). Moreover, with practice chunking takes place unconsciously as well as naturally and even adults easily learn new chunks in their own language. Thus, it is an ability that is essential and fortunately accessible for language learning. According to Tang (2012, p.578), it is not surprising that teachers still find that in spite of their students having learnt vast quantities of vocabulary and grammar rules all the same they use some plain sentences, words, phrases or translate word to word when expressing themselves. As indicated by Gaskel and Ellis (2009, 3607) the process of learning lexical structure demands that an individual identifies categorical units of speech perception alongside their specific sequences in certain words as well as their basic sequential probabilities in language.
The representation of lexical chunking shows that there are processing advantages to utilising chunks and the potential to rely on them is one of the elements that permit native speakers to demonstrate fluency (Tang 2012). Basically, language ability necessitates not only the ability to produce language through grammatical competence but also the ability to employ lexical chunks. This is especially accurate if the students look forward to gaining pragmatic fluency which begins with knowing the right lexical phrase meant for the right situation functionally. Therefore, this importance suggests that there is need for teachers to include instruction on lexical phrases during language teaching. Nattinger and Decarrico (1992) assert that endowment of teachers with knowledge on lexical phrases is essential owing to its importance in communicative competence.
2. Literature Review
2.1 Theories of language acquisition
Most of the concepts as well as theories describing the process of language acquisition go back to the three different approaches namely; behaviourist, cognitive and innativist (Thornbury 2006). Behaviourist approaches to learning suggest that by following a pattern of stimulus, response, and reinforcement students are capable of forming certain habits as well as patterns of language use. Consequently, drilling learners focuses on encouraging formation of habits via correct repetition of language forms. In a similar stroke, the Presentation, Practice and Production approach aim to developing students’ language in the classroom. It does so by establishing clear as well as context model sentences followed by individual repetition, choral drilling and substitution led by the teacher ahead of the students being given a chance to produce language. Therefore, habit-formation as well as repetition free of errors precedes students’ individual language use. Nevertheless, whereas habit-forming activities may have a place in language learning, it is criticised for its lack of inclusion of the role played by the human mind.
Cognitive approaches, on the other hand, centres around the way human mind stores information, processes and draws connections with it, and retrieve it at the correct time. For effective use of the language, learners ought to capable of accurately and quickly retrieving and using language. Thornbury (2006, p.173) outlines the different forms of practice and reveals that it is in the more controlled forms that practice is linked with precision, whilst freer practice is said to grow learner’s fluency. Teachers will manage practice, and intercede and rectify in ways that they regard suitable given their aims and the learners’ needs as the learners advance their mastery of the language.
According to Lewis (2000, p.184), the lexical approach lacks a cogent theory of learning and therefore he tries to provide a remedy by coming up with a number of assumptions regarding learning theory in the lexical approach. They include:
* Experiencing different learning items on a number of instances is a requisite but it is not adequate prerequisite for learning to transpire;
* Becoming aware of lexical chunks or collocations is an imperative but not enough condition for “input” to turn into “intake”;
* Even though formal description of rules may not be of help, recognising examples, similarities, restrictions, and differences contribute to changing input into intake; and
* Acquisition of language is not grounded on formal use of formal rules rather on build up of instances from which learners can put together interim generalisations. That is, Production of Language is the outcome of examples encountered in the past, not formal rules.
2.2 Lexical chunking
The role of lexical units is underscored in both first as well as second language studies (Tang 2012, p.578). These are referred to by many different labels such as “lexicalised stems”, “prefabricated patterns”, among others. A number of approaches to language learning that view vocabulary and lexical units as central in learning as well as teaching have been proposed. They include; “Lexical Phrases and Language” published by Nattinger and DeCarrico in 1992, “The Lexical Syllabus” written by Willis in 1990 and Lewis’ “The Lexical Approach” published in 1993. The use of lexical approach in teaching language aims at developing proposals for designing syllabus to be used in language teaching based on the view that lexis plays a central role in language.
With regard to the linguistic features of the lexical items, there are a number of issues that linguistic researchers need to take into account. To start with, the term lexical unit refers to an abstract unit that consists of phonological, orthographic, semantic as well as grammatical features of a word. Therefore, this term covers polysemy, inflections as well as multi-word items with varying degrees of fixedness including phrasal verbs, compounds and idioms. The difference between holistic multi-word items and other kinds of strings is determined by applying criteria founded on the following: lexicalisation, fixedness, and non-compositionality (Lewis 1997).
The other issue touches on the fact that in most cases lexical items cannot be viewed separately from each other, fo...
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  • Lexical Chunking and Language Acquisition Theory Research
    Description: Proposed research seeks to answer the following question: What is the connection between the learners’ competence in lexical chunks their production of language...
    1 page/≈275 words| 11 Sources | Harvard | Literature & Language | Research Proposal |
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