The Centrality of Attention in SLA

Schmidt, Richard
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Attention is a necessary constuct for understanding virtually every respect of second language acquisition. Both information processing and sociolinguistic accounts of variation assume that variation in use is a consequence of variation in attention. Attention is central to all accounts of the development of fluency. Understanding L2 development also invites the concept of anttention. Even assuming a strong innateness position, at least the triggers of innate knowledge must be attention to, and in cognitive theories, attention to input plays an essential role in storage and hyppothesis formation. Attention also mediates beeteen individual difference factors and SLA in at least three ways: attitudes and motivation make a difference because motivated learners attend more; one dimension of language aptitude is working memory, a construct which implies attention; and learning strategies are either strategies for focusing attention on language or for sustaining attention whith doing something else in addition. Lesrner-external factors such as task requirements, task instructions, and all focus-on-form techniques (including explicit instruction) also afrter what is attended to, thereby causing their effects.
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