From input through developing to ‘developed’ systems: An interconnected process in multilinguals’ development in language learning
Erick E. Ekembe (University of Yaounde I, Cameroon)
One of the most complex issues in current linguistic discourse is explaining how the ‘other’ languages are learnt. External factors seem to have been held obvious, giving way to explanations within cognitive orientation. Outstanding theories such as ‘noticing’ ‘attention’, ‘connectionism’, ‘consciousness raising’, and ‘monitoring’ (see McLaughlin 1987, Skehan 1998, De Bot 2005, Thornbury 2006) so far provide interesting accounts of language learning. But one of the pitfalls of such theories has been the inability to link theory to the practicalities of language teaching and learning.
It is clear that language learning is salient but its practicalities are more or less informative on the entire process of learning. Inasmuch as it is understood that errors determine the learning process, there is enough justification to trust learners’ productions in explaining the process involved in language learning.
This paper seeks to demonstrate, using the productions of Cameroonians, the interconnectedness in cognitive facilities, which account for how multilingual minds succeed in learning a second/foreign language and how contextualised instruction can deliver better results.
From the characteristic features of some syntactic features of learner language examined, the paper adopts an electrical model of language learning, which explains step by step what happens from exposure to initial input through developing to what we hold here as ‘developed’ systems of learner language.