Foreign Language Input: Initial Processing

Author: Rebekah Rast

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Multilingual Matters
Number of pages:
234mm x 156mm

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Foreign Language Input: Initial Processing presents the most comprehensive study to date of the starting point of second language acquisition. Its focus is on the language input that learners receive and what they actually do with this input. The empirical study detailed in the book follows a methodology in which all of the language input provided to the learners from the moment of first exposure is controlled, recorded and transcribed. This input is then quantitatively compared to the learners' performance on language tasks administered at various time intervals up to 8 hours after first exposure. This in-depth analysis of the input and the learners' performance sheds light on questions still unanswered in second language acquisition literature, such as what knowledge is brought to the acquisition process and how learners use this knowledge to process new linguistic information.

Rast's clearly written exploration of input variables illuminates the nature of word and sentence repetition and word- and sentence-translation tasks for learners given minimal L2 exposure. This work will undoubtedly inspire further studies of first exposure.

The core matter of this book is central to all theories of acquisition: it explores the relationship between input, intake, and L2 acquisition at the initial state of learning. It will be of top interest to all concerned with the nature of early L2 acquisition.

Rast's highly original study charts the first few hours of L2 acquisition in both comprehension and production, providing a richer and more complex view of the earliest stages of acquisition than anything hitherto available. Essential reading for acquisitionists!

Rast's book answers the call for research on the initial stages of SLA while distinguishing itself from previous studies in which artificial languages were used. This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the initial stages of SLA. On a theoretical level, this work is relevant and timely given the detailed discussions of intake, saliency and frequency.

Studies in Second Language Acquisition 5th August 2008

Rebekah Rast teaches English and Linguistics at The American University of Paris. She has published in the field of second and third language acquisition and conducts research in collaboration with the interdisciplinary CNRS research team Language, Cognition et Développement (UMR 7023), based at the Université Paris VIII. Her research interests include second and additional language acquisition, as well as the interface between language acquisition and teaching.




Part 1: Theoretical Preliminaries

1. Input and Intake Revisited

2. First Exposure Studies

Part 2: The Study

3. Polish-French Contrastive Analysis

4. Research Methodology

5. The Adult's Available Knowledge at First Exposure to an Unknown Language

6. Case Studies: Two Learners with Similar Linguistic Profiles

7. Speech Perception

8. Speech Comprehension

9. Grammatical Analysis

10. Concluding Remarks


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