LINGUIST List 14.1351

Sun May 11 2003

Review: Applied Ling/Psycholinguistics: Cook (2002)

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  1. Jette G. Hansen, Portraits of the L2 User

Message 1: Portraits of the L2 User

Date: Sun, 11 May 2003 19:50:48 +0000
From: Jette G. Hansen <>
Subject: Portraits of the L2 User

Cook, Vivian, ed. (2002) Portraits of the L2 User, Multilingual
Matters, Second Language Acquisition series.

Announced at

Jette G. Hansen, University of Arizona


Portraits of the L2 User, edited by Vivian Cook, is a collection of
articles focusing on the nature of the second language (L2) user. Each
of the thirteen chapters in the volume is prefaced with a short
introduction by Cook to relate the contents of the chapter to broader
issues in second language acquisition (SLA) research. The volume is
intended for students and researchers in the areas of SLA,
bilingualism, linguistics, and language teaching. The first chapter,
written by Cook, serves as an introduction to the concept of the L2
user. The other chapters focus on: lexical representation and
processing (A. de Grott), phonology (R. Major), syntax (S. Flynn and
B. Lust), functional usage (C. Perdue), cognitive processes (E.
Bialystok), bilingual children (F. Genesee), neurolinguistics
(F. Fabbro), individual differences (J.-M. Dewaele), language
attrition (K. De Bot and M. Hulsen), social factors (A. Pavlenko),
learners' rights (F. G. de Matos), and language teaching methodology
(V. Cook).


In Chapter 1, ''Background to the L2 User,'' Cook establishes the
construct of L2 user in contrast to L2 learner, defining L2 learner as
someone who acquires the L2 for later use while L2 user is someone
engaged in real-life usage of the L2, and that ''any use counts,
however small or ineffective'' (p. 3). Based on this distinction, Cook
argues that SLA research should shift its focus from the L2 learner,
or someone who fails to acquire native speaker proficiency (e.g., the
deficit model), to exploring the nature of L2 users in their own
right. Cook also discusses the concept of ''multi-competence'' (Cook,
1991) and argues that SLA and linguistic theory should be reframed
with the view that multilingualism, and not monolingualism, is the

In Chapter 2, ''Lexical Representation and Lexical Processing in the
L2 User,'' de Groot, examines how the L2 user's mind represents and
processes the vocabularies of two languages. De Groot discusses
various models of lexical representation, especially three-component
hierarchical models, providing evidence for and against each model. De
Groot argues that three-component models are functionally rather than
qualitatively different and that various versions of the
three-component models can occur within one bilingual mind as
bilingual memory representation varies not only across populations,
but also within individuals, even for the same L1 and L2, based on
factors such as language proficiency, word type, word frequency, and
L2 learning method/environment.

In Chapter 3, ''The Phonology of the L2 User,'' Major outlines his
original model, the Ontogeny Phylogeny Model (OPM), portions of which
are also discussed in detail in Major (2001), to account for the
principles involved in the development of an L2 phonological system as
well as the changes in the L1 system as a result of exposure to an L2.
The three main factors involved in the development of an interlanguage
-- the L1, the L2, and universal principles - - are discussed within
individual's language development and change (Ontogeny) as well as
changes and evolutions of whole languages (Phylogeny) due to language
contact phenomena, dialect variation, and historical change.

In Chapter 4, ''A Minimalist Approach to L2 Solves a Dilemma of UG,''
Flynn and Lust discuss the dilemma of how the distinction between
initial and end states of the UG can be maintained if the UG is
continuous between these states. The authors outline both the
Maturational Model and the Strong Continuity Model and then draw on
both L1 and L2 research to argue for the Strong Continuity Model of
UG, with the additional claims that at the end-state, the UG is
distinct from specific language grammars, that the UG is available to
adult L2 learners in its entirety, and that L1 and adult L2 knowledge
are not acquired in fundamentally different ways.

In Chapter 5, ''Development of L2 Functional Use,'' Perdue draws on
data from the European Science Foundation (ESF) to illustrate the
highly structured and recurrent nature, and cross-linguistic
consistency of learner language. Taking a functional approach to the
analysis of learner language, Perdue examines both sentence and
discourse level organizational principles, and the communicative and
formal factors that may explain the acquisition process. Arguing that
culture-neutral knowledge and process-related principles govern
informational organization at the discourse level and language-neutral
knowledge and process- related principles at the sentence level,
Perdue employs ESF learner data to illustrate how the interaction of
organizational principles determine the relatively stable functional

In Chapter 6, ''Cognitive Processes of L2 Users,'' Bialystok examines
the relationship between language and cognition, especially in
relation to users of two languages. Bialystok outlines both the
formal and functional views of language and cognition, as well as
hybrid theories, and then presents her own framework (cf. Bialystok,
1991, 2001) which employs analysis of representational structure and
control of attention to consider the relationship between language and
cognition. Drawing on findings from research on bilingual children,
Bialystok argues that learning two languages effects significant
changes in how children carry out general cognitive processes, and
that this impact is limited to the control of attention aspect of her

Chapter 7, ''Portrait of the Bilingual Child,'' Genesee focuses on
bilingual code mixing, which he discusses from cognitive, linguistic,
and communicative perspectives, to refute the assumptions that
learning two (or more) languages simultaneously is problematic and
that bilingual children possess a single unified language
system. Genesee argues that bilingual children's use of the two
languages is appropriate and context-sensitive and differentiated from
the one-word stage onwards, and that bilingual children typically
acquire language-appropriate and language-specific constraints for
each language.

In Chapter 8, ''The Neurolinguistics of L2 Users,'' Fabbro addresses
the question of whether the two languages of bilinguals have similar
or different brain representations. Fabbro examines research from
bilingual aphasics, cases of language mixing and switching by
bilinguals with cerebral lesions, electrophysiological studies, and
neuroanatomy studies. Findings from these studies suggest that neural
structures are involved in the selection and segmentation of
utterances, that there may differences in the cerebral cortical
organization of languages based on learning strategies and age of
learning, and while the lexicons of the L1 and the L2 may be stored in
the same brain areas regardless of age of acquisition, the
representation of morphosyntax may be different if the L2 is acquired
after age 7.

In Chapter 9, ''Individual Differences in L2 Fluency: Neurobiological
Correlates,'' Dewaele addresses the issues of both intra- and
inter-individual variation in L2 fluency from a neurobiological
perspective. Examining the relationship among short-term memory (STM),
long-term memory (LTM), and working memory (WM) in language
processing, Dewaele argues that L2 users may have a shortage of STM
capacity. Linking this to individual differences, Dewaele states that
extroverted learners may be superior to introverts in STM and that
higher anxiety levels have also been linked to introversion. Both of
these differences may have neurobiological causes and create more
constraints on fluency for introverted learners, especially in more
formal and stressful situations.

In Chapter 10, ''Language Attrition: Tests, Self- Assessments, and
Perceptions,'' De Bot and Hulsen examine L1 and L2 language loss by
analyzing data from both quantitative measurements of language loss
and self-reports from L2 users. Based on an analysis of both 1st and
3rd person accounts of L1 and L2 loss, De Bot and Hulsen argue that
the language loss is heterogenous across individuals and perceptions
about loss are affected by language background, educational level,
attitudes towards the L1 and L2, professional activity and possibly
age as well.

In Chapter 11, ''Poststructuralist Approaches to the Study of Social
Factors in Second Language Learning and Use,'' Pavlenko traces the
study of social factors in SLA, beginning with early
sociopsychological approaches such as Gardner and Lambert's (1959,
1972) work on motivation and attitudes, and Schumann's Acculturation
Model (1978) in order to frame the emergence of poststructuralist
perspectives on social factors and the advantages of the
poststructuralist approach over earlier frameworks. Pavlenko also
discusses three key aspects of poststructuralist approaches - view of
language, view of learning, and view of L2 learners.

In Chapter 12, ''Second Language Learners' Rights,'' Gomes de Matos
first defines a learner's right as ''a new humanising quality
experienced by a person as a result of an educational decision or
policy'' (p. 307) and then the historical development of the
recognition of learners' rights. Gomes de Matos also provides a
typology of learners' rights based on 12 open-ended criteria including
age, performance level, learners' strategies and preferences, and
language and cultural background. A list of specific linguistic rights
in the areas of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar is also
provided. Gomes de Matos concludes by providing an open-ended
checklist to help language educators, curriculum planners, and policy
makers to include learners' rights into teacher training and
curriculum development.

In Chapter 13, ''Language Teaching Methodology and the L2 User
Perspective,'' the concluding chapter, Cook discusses the consequences
that a shift to an L2 user perspective has on teaching methodology and
syllabus design. After a brief overview of 20th century teaching
methodology, Cook discusses the nature of the L2 user, and then links
the L2 user to teaching methodology by outlining a series of
principles for language teaching that take the L2 user perspective
into consideration.


By shifting the focus from what L2 learners lack or cannot not do in
comparison with monolingual native speakers (e.g., the deficit model),
to a recognition that L2 users should be studied in their own right
for what they can do, this volume makes an important contribution to
second language theory, methodology, and pedagogy. The volume, the
first to focus entirely on the L2 user and various aspects of L2
users' knowledge, marks an important shift in how we understand,
describe, and prescribe, through language teaching, the process and
product of second language acquisition as well as the norms and goals
of this process. The volume also adds a new and rich dimension to
current discussions of the native speaker construct (cf. Kachru &
Nelson, 1996), non-native speaking teachers (cf. Braine, 1999), and
the internationalization of languages such as English (cf. Jenkins,
2000). As such, this is an important volume for both language
researchers and teachers. The volume would also be an excellent
textbook for second language acquisition courses as each chapter is
written by an expert(s) in a given area and provides a solid
introduction to a particular area of research as well as an extensive
reference list.


Bialystok, E. (1991). Metalinguistic dimensions of bilingual language
proficiency. In E. Bialystok (ed.) Language processing in bilingual
children (pp. 113-140). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bialystok, E. (2001). Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy,
and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Braine, G. (1999). Non-native educators in English language teaching
Mahwah, NJ Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Cook, V. (1991). The poverty-of-the-stimulus argument and
multi-competence. Second Language Research 7 (2),103- 117.

Gardner, R., & Lambert, W. (1959). Motivational variables in
second-language acquisition. Canadian Journal of Psychology 13,

Gardner, R., & Lambert, W. (1972). Attitudes and motivation in second
language learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Genesee, F. (1989). Early bilingual development: One language or two?
Journal of Child Language16, 161-179.

Jenkins, J. (2000). The phonology of English as an international
language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kachru, B. B., & Nelson, C. (1996). World Englishes. In S. L. McKay &
N. H. Hornberger, (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and language teaching
(pp. 71-102). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Klein, W. & Perdue, C. (1997). The basic variety. Or: Couldn't natural
languages be much simpler? Second Language Research 13(4), 301-347.

Major, R. (2001). Foreign accent: The ontogeny and phylogeny of second
language phonology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Schumann, J. (1978). The acculturation model for second language
acquisition. In R. Gingras (Ed.), Second language acquisition and
foreign language teaching (pp. 27-50). Washington, DC: Center for
Applied Linguistics.


Jette G. Hansen is Assistant Professor of English Language/Linguistics
and Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) at the University
of Arizona. Her research interests include the acquisition of an L2
phonology, gender and second language acquisition, and literacy
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