Chapter 4. Skill Acquisition Theory and the role of practice in L2 development

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This chapter presents an overview of research in support of Skill Acquisition Theory and the claim that contextualized oral practice in conjunction with feedback promotes continued second language growth. Skill acquisition is explained as a gradual transition from effortful use to more automatic use of the target language, with the ultimate goal of achieving faster and more accurate processing. By reviewing different yet compatible theoretical orientations of knowledge representations (e.g., implicit/explicit knowledge, exemplar-based/rule-based representations), the interplay between declarative and procedural knowledge is explained as bidirectional and relative to the context of instruction. The differential effects of guided practice and communicative practice are addressed and their benefits in conjunction with feedback are highlighted through reference to classroom-based second language acquisition (SLA) research. Finally, future directions regarding research on practice effects and types of practice are suggested.


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