The Ecology of Second Language Acquisition and Socialization

Sune Vork Steffensen, Claire Kramsch

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEncyclopedia chapterResearchpeer-review


    Various theories of second language acquisition (SLA) and socialization (SLS) have adopted ecology as a convenient metaphor to promote sociocultural (van Lier 2004) or sociocognitive (Atkinson 2011) approaches to the study of SLA, and socioethnographic approaches (Duff 2011; Duff and Talmy 2011) to the study of SLS. The main tenets of an ecological approach are: (1) the emergent nature of language learning and use, (2) the crucial role of affordances in the environment, (3) the mediating function of language in the educational enterprise, and (4) the historicity and subjectivity of the language learning experience, as well as its inherent conflictuality. These tenets have been in one form or another adopted by virtually all mainstream theories of SLA and SLS to the point that SLA is increasingly conceived as a form of second language socialization (Douglas Fir Group 2016). While such a development is to be welcomed, it also raises serious concerns about the autonomy of the language learner, the collective pressure on individuals to align with the expectations of the community, alternative theories of knowledge and of knowledge acquisition, and the socializing dominance of English around the world. This chapter discusses the history of the relationship between acquisition and socialization with regard to foreign/second language learning and use, and the role played by ecological theory in that relationship.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLanguage Socialization
    EditorsPatricia A. Duff, Stephen May
    Publication date2017
    ISBN (Print)978-3-319-02254-3
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-02255-0
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    SeriesEncyclopedia of Language and Education


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