Theory Construction in Second Language Acquisition

Author
Geoff Jordan | ESADE, Barcelona
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ISBN 9789027217059 (Eur) | EUR 98.00
ISBN 9781588114815 (USA) | USD 147.00
 
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ISBN 9781588114822 (USA) | USD 54.00
 
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Recently, many SLA researchers have adopted a postmodernist approach which challenges the assumption that SLA research is a rationalist, scientific endeavour. The resulting epistemological arguments, plus problems of theory proliferation, contradicting theories, and theory domain, hinder progress towards a unified theory of SLA. Theory Construction in SLA addresses these problems by returning to first principles; it asks whether there is such a thing as reliable knowledge, what is special about scientific method, and how we can best explain SLA. It is the first book to use the philosophy of science in order to examine the epistemological underpinnings of SLA research and evaluate rival theories of SLA. Part One explores the central issues in the philosophy of science, defends rationality against relativists, and offers Guidelines for theory assessment. Part Two examines different theories of SLA and evaluates them in terms of how well they stand up to the Guidelines.
[Language Learning & Language Teaching, 8] 2004.  xviii, 295 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“Whereas SLA research has grown relatively sophisticated methodologically over the past 30 years, it has been a very different story where SLA theorizing and theory evaluation are concerned. SLA theories (using the term loosely) continue to proliferate, and most remain on the market well past their shelf-life. The existence of relationships between acquisition and use is taken by some to mean claims about either are one and the same. Worse, the rationalist enterprise and SLA's status as an emerging discipline within cognitive science and are currently challenged by a small but vocal assortment of relativists and 'critical' theorists (few of whom conduct research), creating confusion, impeding progress, and threatening the field's credibility. What has long been needed, and what this book provides, is an authoritative analysis of the epistemological issues by someone familiar with the debates in the SLA literature who also has serious academic credentials in the history and philosophy of science. A student of Popper's in LSE's prime, as well as of Lakatos, Feyerabend, and Laudan, Geoff Jordan has provided a scholarly, yet accessible, book that should be of great benefit to faculty and students alike, and having a lasting impact on the field.”
“For readers who, for whatever reason, have felt a sense of frustration with the way theory is heading in SLA, this is a book worth reading. It asks the applied linguist to go back to the philosophical roots of science, and proposes some guidelines for SLA research so that the field can proceed on common philosophical and methodological ground. The book is an ambitious undertaking and Jordan's degree of success varies with each chapter, but as a whole it is a very useful, thought-provoking addition to the SLA literature.”
“This book first sets up a series of guidelines based on theories of science and then measures diverse theories of second language acquisition against them. It is fascinating to see Popper, Chomsky and Krashen mentioned in the same breath and the book provides a highly useful introduction to the philosophical bases of second language acquisition research. It is also interesting to see which theories survive the best, with rather surprising results. It is a sign of maturity that a field has a sufficient breadth and depth of work to be evaluated in this way and we are fortunate that the author has the background to make this bridge between the disciplines.”
“This is an important book. There are quite a few treatments of second language acquisition (SLA) research, but no other book captures theory construction the way Jordan does. Even though his conclusions may not be shared by everyone, his argumentation is straight and fair and his judgements are balanced. It is a rich source of information on the main theories and it aims to give as objective as possible an evaluation of these theories. Even though it is sometime dense and complex, it is a 'must-read' for researchers and graduate students in SLA and language development.”
“Overall, Jordan offers a very knowledgeable and well-written account of theory construction in general and theorising in the field of second language research in particular, which should be of interest to virtually everyone in the diverse SLA community, from postgraduate students to senior scholars. The broad scope of the book makes it a valuable source of information not only for researchers interested in the epistemology of their subject area, but also for students new to the field of SLA who seek an up-to-date outline of second language theories past and present. Unlike the volumes specifically devoted to providing such an overview (e.g. R. Ellis, 1994; Mitchell & Myles, 1998), Jordan's book is — intentionally — less exhaustive; however, it offers the added bonus of a critical appraisal against a fascinating historical backdrop. The epistemological chapters do not require any prior knowledge in the area of philosophy. Whether Darwin or Derrida, Pavlov or Popper — Jordan's treatment of what might appear to be daunting subject matter is always accessible and often highly entertaining. Jordan's lucid writing gives us a very useful insight into an essentially complex topic, allowing the reader to see the field of second language research within the bigger picture of philosophy and science, and to locate his/her own position, views, and beliefs in relation to the history of theory construction.”
“Jordan's lucid writing gives us a very useful insight into an essentially complex topic, allowing the reader to see the field of second language research within the bigger picture of philosophy and science”
“This volume is extremely valuable due its critical its critical approach and comparative evaluation of theories. Thus, it should be of great interest and benefit, not only to specialists and researchers, but also to newcomers to the field who need a comprehensive overview.”
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Subjects

Main BIC Subject

CF: Linguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
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U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2003070868 | Marc record