Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #322
International Symposium - The Utility of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Area of Second Language Acquisition
Monday, May 29, 2006
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Learning Center
Area: VRB; Domain: Theory
Chair: Yukiko Washio (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: John H. Mabry (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Visiting Scholar)
Abstract: This symposium focuses on the application of behavior analysis to second language acquisition. Historically, studies in second language acquisition tend to focus on formalistic analysis rather than functionalistic analysis in which the environmental and contextual influences on verbal behavior are analyzed. However, some linguists are starting to emphasize the significance of a functionalistic approach so as to manipulate linguistic behavior within the environmental context. In that regard, speakers in this symposium will present theoretical as well as empirical analyses of second language that will demonstrate the utility of interdisciplinary studies of second language acquisition. One focuses on seeking a better integration of the two disciplines overall, another focuses on the detailed analysis of linguistic components based on contemporary analyses of verbal behavior, and the last focuses on the empirical study of teaching children foreign words.
Chaos/Complexity & Behavior Analysis: Second Language Acquisition Analyses via a Bridge Discipline.
YUKIKO WASHIO (University of Nevada, Reno), Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: This presentation will address a paper written by a psycholinguist who points out that second language acquisition exhibits phenomena that may be explained by chaos/complexity theory. Chaos/complexity theory and the field of second language acquisition take quite different approaches, which could be the reason why there are few linguists who appreciate the importance of the functionalistic approach, in which the environmental and contextual influences on second language acquisition are analyzed. By pointing out the similarities between chaos/complexity theory and behavior analysis in terms of their contextual approach (i.e., complex systems being always evolving, dynamic, and interactive with the environment), the utility of complexity theory as a bridge discipline between behavior analysis and second language acquisition will be the target of discussion in this paper.
A Comparison of Four Strategies for Teaching a Small Second-Language Vocabulary to Preschool Children.
ANNA I. PETURSDOTTIR (University of Akureyri), Linda S. Magnusdottir (University of Akureyri), Berglind Aradottir (University of Akureyri), Hafdis Jensdottir (University of Akureyri), Alma R. Olafsdottir (University of Akureyri), Asta S. Thorsteindottir (University of Akureyri)
Abstract: “Knowing” a foreign-language word may be said to entail demonstrating several verbal relations, including two intraverbal relations in which either the foreign or the native-language word serves as a discriminative stimulus for the other as a response, a tact relation in which a nonverbal stimulus evokes the foreign topography, and a listener relation in which the foreign stimulus evokes appropriate selection behavior. On the basis of stimulus equivalence, one might expect the training of one of the foreign-language relations to result in the learner deriving all of the other relations. However, when simple discriminations and topography-based responding are involved, there is evidence that the training of certain relations (e.g., tacts) may be more likely than the training of others (e.g., listener relations) to generate emergent performances. In the present study, preschool children who spoke Icelandic as a first language were taught Spanish animal names. For each child, only one relation was trained for each animal name: a tact, a listener relation, an Icelandic-Spanish intraverbal, or a Spanish-Icelandic intraverbal. The dependent variables were acquisition of the trained relation and the emergence of untrained relations during and following training.
Behavior-Analytic Perspectives on Second Language Acquisition.
ROBERT DLOUHY (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: The field of second language acquisition (SLA) studies the difficult and complex problems that confront the learners of a second language. These problems include how learners acquire and learn to use vocabulary items, grammatical and syntactic structures, and phonological patterns. Presently, certain approaches to SLA are self-described as “functional,” and this paper will suggest that these are amenable to behavior-analytic interpretation. The discussion will be centered around an interpretation of the acquisition and generalization of syntagmatic frames (i.e., autoclitic and intraverbal frames). It will be argued that these frames are essential for the productive use of the target language. Additionally, a behavior-analytic treatment of these units will inform functional linguists’ discussion of the ways in which second language acquisition differs from first language acquisition, the emergence of language as a function of environmental factors (as opposed to innate qualities), the nature of interlanguage (the incomplete version of the target language produced by the learner), and the sources of learner errors in target language verbal responses.



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