Chapter 5. The limits of instruction

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This chapter argues that Selinker’s (1972) claim that instruction does not significantly affect interlanguage development is essentially correct. Reviewing general research on instructed second language acquisition as well as some recent research of my own, I argue that instructed SLA to date has failed to consider underlying constraints and processes in interlanguage development. In addition, I argue that the fundamental problem in instructed SLA is its overall focus on the acquisition of “rules”; that is, rules are not acquired from the input. Instead, learners process morpho-phonological units in the speech stream and assemble language over time. Rules, if they exist, evolve; they cannot be the object of instruction or input processing.


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