Review Essay: A Critique of Flynn's Parameter-Setting Model of Second Language Acquisition

Bley-Vroman, Robert
Chaudron, Craig
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This paper is a critique of the parameter-setting model of second language acquisition proposed by Suzanne Flynn. Flynn has applied the notion of a universal head direction parameter to the prediction of acquisition of English adverbial clause structure and anaphoric relations by L1 Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese learners. In two studies involving elicited imitation and comprehension of target language sentences, Flynn argues that the head direction parameter explains the pattern of results. One proficiency group of Spanish learners revealed a greater ease in production of postposed (forward) pronoun anaphora over prcposcd (backward) anaphora, while Japanese and Chinese learners showed no differences. Flynn claims that the match in head direction between Spanish and English favors this outcome and related results, while Japanese and Chinese learners have difficulty because of the mismatch. This critique raises serious questions as to the adequacy of Flynn's methodology and model to investigate the issue or explain the results.
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