Functional analysis in the study of second language acquisition
Studies of second language acquisition (SLA) are often devoid of sufficient theoretical background. With this contribution we want to demonstrate the suitability of a theoretical functional approach to this area and especially to the analysis of the learner's perspective. The theoretical background is, on the one hand, functional explanation, and on the other, semiotically based "natural linguistics", with an emphasis on phonology and text linguistics. We will differentiate two types of functional explanation, both applicable to SLA (3.2) and deal with several problems of functional analysis which correspond to recurrent problems of SLA analysis (3.3), such as goal conflicts, competition of strategies (multiple strategies), multi-functionality, alternative explanations, and the vexing question as to what extent form follows function. Having established and illustrated (with SLA material) four types of functional deficiencies (3.4), we will deal with the learner's progress from a functional point of view as against the background of selected current views on SLA (4).
Published online: 01 January 1994