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