Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition  book cover
1st Edition

Alternative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition

Edited By

Dwight Atkinson

ISBN 9780415549257
Published April 7, 2011 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

This volume presents six alternative approaches to studying second language acquisition – 'alternative' in the sense that they contrast with and/or complement the cognitivism pervading the field. All six approaches – sociocultural, complexity theory, conversation-analytic, identity, language socialization, and sociocognitive – are described according to the same set of six headings, allowing for direct comparison across approaches.

Each chapter is authored by leading advocates for the approach described: James Lantolf for the sociocultural approach; Diane Larsen-Freeman for the complexity theory approach; Gabriele Kasper and Johannes Wagner for the conversation-analytic approach; Bonny Norton and Carolyn McKinney for the identity approach; Patricia Duff and Steven Talmy for the language socialization approach and Dwight Atkinson for the sociocognitive approach.

Introductory and commentary chapters round out this volume. The editor’s introduction describes the significance of alternative approaches to SLA studies given its strongly cognitivist orientation. Lourdes Ortega’s commentary considers the six approaches from an 'enlightened traditional' perspective on SLA studies – a viewpoint which is cognitivist in orientation but broad enough to give serious and balanced consideration to alternative approaches.

This volume is essential reading in the field of second language acquisition.

Table of Contents


Dwight Atkinson

Chapter 1: The Sociocultural Approach to Second Language Acquisition: Sociocultural Theory, Second Language Acquisition, and Artificial L2 Development

James P. Lantolf

Chapter 2: A Complexity Theory Approach to Second Language Development/ Acquisition

Diane Larsen-Freeman

Chapter 3: An Identity Approach to Second Language Acquisition

Bonny Norton & Carolyn McKinney

Chapter 4: Language Socialization Approaches to Second Language Acquisition: Social, Cultural, and Linguistic Development in Additional Languages

Patricia A. Duff & Steven Talmy

Chapter 5: A Conversation-analytic Approach to Second Language Acquisition

Gabriele Kasper & Johannes Wagner

Chapter 6: A Sociocognitive Approach to Second Language Acquisition: How Mind, Body, and World Work Together in Learning Additional Languages

Dwight Atkinson

Chapter 7: Discussion - SLA after the Social Turn: Where Cognitivism and its Alternatives Stand

Lourdes Ortega

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Dwight Atkinson is Associate Professor of English at Purdue University, Indiana, specializing in second language acquisition, second language writing, and qualitative research approaches.


‘In recent years there has been growing recognition that the acquisition of a second language is very much a social as well as a cognitive affair. This volume brings together a collection of articles documenting the various theories and methodologies for investigating L2 acquisition as a social phenomenon. As such, it is an essential purchase for anyone interested in SLA.’

Rod Ellis, University of Auckland, New Zealand

"This book should be an essential resource for graduate seminars in SLA.It is a unique testimony to the vibrancy of the field and to the astonishing complexity of the SLA experience."

Claire Kramsch, University of California, Berkeley, USA

"[A] remarkable effort to provide a comprehensive overview of current trends in SLA by gathering together different approaches in a critical way."