Statistical Abstraction of Form & Function Enhances SLA - Essay Sample

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Pages:  3
Wordcount:  774 Words
Date:  2023-06-09


Statistical association of form and function has a moderate influence on Second Language Association (SLA). The learner's Second Language (L2) emerges systematically from their history of statistical abstraction of patterns latent across and within function and form in language usage (Ellis & Wulff, 2015). SLA that occurs through complex interaction within these elements, according to Ellis and Wulff (2015), is far much richer than SLA that results from explicit and implicit learning alone. However, the extent of SLA also depends on the reliability of the statistical association of form and function. As such, the more reliable the statistical correlation between the two elements, the easier the process of SLA.

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However, leaners can easily acquire L2 if form and function have high combinability. In this regard, the efficiency of SLA depends on whether functions and meanings are compatible and if they fit in a situation or context in which the learner may want to use (Ellis & Wulff, 2015). So, the more the learner enters a combination of specific language constructions of form and function in the input, the more they would be able to develop the L2 (Ellis & Wulff, 2015).

Data-Driven Learning (DDL), which is often used to teach English for academic purposes, facilitates SLA. This methodology requires learners of the target language to interpret the output data as they identify the statistical patterns of the language (Crosthwaite et al., 2019). SLA occurs through DDL since it draws L2 learner's attention to the features of the target language within the corpus data. However, research has also shown that the "semantic system," a part of the human brain that represents information about the structure and meaning of language, respond less to non-words than words (Huth et al., 2016). This phenomenon implies that the semantic system can limit how the statistical association of function and form drives SLA.

How First Language Influence Ultimate Attainment of SLA

Functional approaches to language learning, notably, study SLA from a cognitive perspective. The main idea underlying the functional method is how individuals process knowledge of the target language and how they develop an understanding of that language system within specific social environments. Research has demonstrated that a person's first language exerts a considerable influence on the development and the ultimate attainment of L2 (Crosthwaite et al., 2018). The reason, according to Crosthwaite et al. (2018), is that the initial state of a person learning a second language is of tabula repleta instead of tabula rasa. In this view, L1 would stimulate the development of an L2 since both languages tend to compete for access to conscious awareness. There is evidence that L1 enable L2 learners to be more sensitive to programmatic distinctions and the syntactic markings of the L2 (Crosthwaite et al., 2018).

The configuration of the learner's L1 has a significant influence on the learnability of the L2. It also shapes how an individual would later use the article system of the target language (Crosthwaite, 2014). Nonetheless, communicative efficiency and the ultimate attainment of L2 depends on the learner's ability to transfer the principles of their L1 to improve the production of L2 in different social settings (Crosthwaite, 2014).

Research has indicated that L2 learners can maximize their expressive power by transferring the principles of their L1 into the L2 (Crosthwaite, 2014). In doing so, they would be able to avoid a negative transfer. A study by Crosthwaite (2016) has demonstrated that L1 helps L2 learners from article-less languages in L2 production as it enables them to reference old information that would improve their use of articles. As an example, L2 learners who often find it challenging to use the definite article in the English language can use their L1 as a reference in applying the new information (Crosthwaite, 2016).


Crosthwaite, P. R. (2014). Definite discourse-new reference in L1 and L2: A study of bridging in Mandarin, Korean, and English. Language Learning, 64(3), 456-492.

Crosthwaite, P. R. (2016). Definite article bridging relations in L2: A learner corpus study. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 15(2), 297-319.

Crosthwaite, P., Wong, L. L., & Cheung, J. (2019). Characterizing postgraduate students' corpus query and usage patterns for disciplinary data-driven learning. ReCALL, 31(3), 255-275.

Crosthwaite, P., Yeung, Y., Bai, X., Lu, L., & Bae, Y. (2018). Definite discourse-new reference in L1 and L2. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 40(3), 625-649.

Ellis, N. C., & Wulff, S. (2015). Usage-based approaches to L2 acquisition. Theories in Second Language Acquisition, 63-82.

Huth, A. G., De Heer, W. A., Griffiths, T. L., Theunissen, F. E., & Gallant, J. L. (2016). Natural speech reveals the semantic maps that tile the human cerebral cortex. Nature, 532(7600), 453-458.

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