Organic World Language Acquisition Theory

10 Principles of OWL and Supporting Evidence


1. OWL mirrors an authentic language environment.

(a)“…SLA [is] a process which is crucially affected by, and dependent on, contextual factors.” (Housen 2011)

(b)“Language learning cannot be considered outside its social contexts.” (Trofimovich 2011)

2. OWL is a forum in which language collaboratively and spontaneously manifest as a result of making meaning.

(a)“…identity is represented and negotiated through speaking and hearing.” (Swain 2007)

(b)“…output fulfills certain functions for language acquisition that are not available through input alone…” (Hubert 2011)

3. OWL focuses on meaning which leads to greater accuracy in the target language.

(a)“…communicative effectiveness does not necessarily include proportionately higher accuracy or grammatical sophistication.” (Hubert 2011)

(b)“…contrast between the non-native like findings on morphosyntactic tasks and the possibility of native like neural processing of lexicosemantic tasks.” (Hellman 2010)

4. OWL focuses on accessible aspects of language.

(a)“…learners are not employing most of the elements of grammar that take up so much class time and effort in their oral interviews and written compositions…” (Hubert 2011)

(b)“…the more frequently an L2 learner experiences a given phonological pattern in the input, as estimated through lexical frequency counts, the more accurately the learner will perceive and produce this pattern.” (Trofimovich 2011)

5. OWL is social interaction that relies on communication to create culture.

(a)“Meanings are socially produced and constituted within language; thus language constructs ‘our sense of ourselves, our subjectivity.’” (Swain 2007)

(b)“…L2 Dynamic Assessment offers a systematic and theoretically motivated approach to assessing and promoting learner abilities through interaction.” (Poehner 2011)

6. OWL instructors and learners construct meaning together and have fluid roles in the classrooms.

(a)Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

(b)“This co-operation involves co-constructing a [Zone of Proximal Development], which is contingent upon continually attuning mediation to learner needs as these manifest and change over the course of interaction.” (Poehner 2011)

7. OWL facilitates a safe environment where learners, (teachers and students), can experiment different versions of themselves.

(a)“…her discourse both came from and formed her social identity.” (Swain 2007)

(b)“’…allow students to observe and explore cultural interactions from their own perspectives to enable them to find their own voices in the second language speech community.’” (Andrew 2011)

8. OWL is learners engaged in tasks that are facilitating communicative language growth at their appropriate level.

(a)“…specific changes in DA may only become clear when interpreted within the context of the entire interaction, much like…individual notes are understood by appreciating a musical piece as a whole.” (Poehner 2011)

(b)“…producing a greater amount of comprehensible output has a beneficial effect on language acquisition.” (Albert 2011)

9. In an OWL classroom, instruction and assessment are simultaneous activities – one constantly informing the other; assessment facilitates scaffolding to give students greater ability.

(a)“A practical consequence of Vygotsky’s dialectical approach to human development is that it integrates teaching and assessment in a single activity in which mediation is used to uncover a learners’ ZPD while concurrently moving the ZPD forward.” (Poehner 2011)

(b)“…standardized testing practices posit a separation between assessing and teaching.” (Poehner 2011)

10. OWL creates an environment where learners are intrinsically motivated to use the target language.

(a)“…learners gain privileged access to individuals’ and communities’ ‘ways of being’ as their members get their acts together.” (Andrew 2011)

(b)“Students with a positive attitude toward the course and toward the task to be performed spoke considerably more than those who had negative attitudes. Self-confidence and willingness to communicate in L2 were also positively related to the quantity of talk.” (Albert 2011)