The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition

The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition

The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition

The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition


The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisitionbrings together fifty leading international figures in the field to produce a state-of-the-art overview of Second Language Acquisition.

The Handbookcovers a wide range of topics related to Second Language Acquisition: language in context, linguistic, psycholinguistic, and neurolinguistic theories and perspectives, skill learning, individual differences, L2 learning settings, and language assessment. All chapters introduce the reader to the topic, outline the core issues, then explore the pedagogical application of research in the area and possible future development.

The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisitionis an essential resource for all those studying and researching Second Language Acquisition.


Learning a second or foreign language is commonplace in today’s world. In fact, recent estimates (Grosjean, 2010) suggest that more than half of the world’s population knows more than one language. Some of this dual language knowledge comes from family or societal sources, that is, growing up in a dual-language family or a bi- or multilingual society; in other instances, second language knowledge comes from an instructional setting. In some instances, learning begins postpuberty; in other instances, it begins in childhood. Despite these varied facts, we are still a long way from understanding how second languages are learned, why many individuals have difficulty in reaching high levels of proficiency in a second language, or even what the best pedagogical approach might be. This Handbook of Second Language Acquisition provides comprehensive coverage of the field of second language acquisition (SLA) with an effort to incorporate a wide range of different approaches to understanding how languages are learned.

As an ever-growing body of research on SLA has indicated, numerous factors are involved in L2 learning (de Bot et al., 2005; Gass and Selinker, 2008; Ortega, 2009; Mitchell and Myles, 1998). Put another way, the field of SLA is multi-faceted and interdisciplinary, a fact which also reflects the complexity of L2 development. The many factors involved in L2 learning (e.g., linguistic, psychological, sociological) are generally best viewed in combination. In other words, the highly complex phenomenon of second language learning can only be understood when all parts of the picture can be seen at the same time. A single approach (e.g., focusing only on linguistic aspects of learning, or focusing only on social aspects of learning) is too simplistic and is unlikely to move us toward our goal of understanding the entire phenomenon and, in particular, why and when language learning is successful, and why and when it is not.

This Handbook is designed to provide a state-of-the-art survey of L2 research exploring theoretical issues of particular significance in L2 learning and teaching. The Handbook is intended for SLA researchers, applied linguists, graduate students, upper-level undergraduate students, practitioners, and other professionals related to or interested in SLA. Accordingly, the topics discussed in the Handbook were selected in consideration of the needs of the intended audience. More importantly, the selections were also made based on the degree of significance and prominence to which each topic has contributed to L2 research. Some topics have already received book-length treatises (e.g., approaches related to sociocultural theories); other topics (e.g., issues related to heritage learners, study abroad, or education level) have not typically been included in an overall discussion of language learning prior to this Handbook.

Even though the primary scope of the Handbook is second language learning, authors were also asked to provide a section on how their approaches to learning a second language might be applied . . .

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