Lightbown. Spada. Lightbown. Spada. Lightbown. Spada. During the first year of my master’s program, these were among the most common names encountered (not to mention Nunan, Krashen, Ellis, and others). I always thought it was rather funny when students, who had either encountered the name too many times or never bothered to read it and just skimmed , would constantly write “Lightbrown,” adding in the extra r. Lightbrown. Lightbown.
There are a pleth ora of books on SLA (second language acquisition) and “How Languages Are Learned” is among the best. As most SLA books do, they start off with a discussion of first language acquisition compared to second language acquisition and then run through a gamut of different theories. What makes this book great is that is is easily read and contains accessible language, which is important as a foundations book. This is written to serve as an introduction to SLA, and therefore clarity in language is imperative. All in all, this book serves as a great foray into a complex and tenuous subject.
In addition to the Lightbown and Spada book, those looking into SLA would want to check out these free online resources:
- Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning (1998) – Krashen’s book, available from his website.
- Universal Grammar – Oxford Key Concepts in ELT Series
- Critical Period Hypothesis – Oxford Key Concepts in ELT Series
- Second Language Acquisition – ELT World Wikia
- From Dr. Vivian Cook’s website (thanks @DavidHarbinson):
- SLA Topics – including key research, many with summaries, articles, and websites
- Supplementary material / course material for “Second Language Learning and Language Teaching” (2008)
Please feel free to add more important SLA readings in the comments below.