Dr.Marjolijn Verspoor, Professor of English Language from University of Groningen,was invited by the Bilingual Cognition and Development lab and the Center togive a talk and workshop entitled “A dynamic usage based (DUB) approach totracing L2 development” on the afternoon of May 22.
Prof. Verspoor started off by illustrating theunderlying mechanism of the dynamic system theory with a diagram, which showedconcepts like complex adaptive behaviour, emergence and simple self-organizedlocal relationships. The dynamic system could be studied from the marcro, themeso and micro perspectives. She went on depicting the learning process of theword “water” for babies with a TED video clip. The pronunciation of water wentfrom non-meaningful sound of “Gaga” to the sound that similar to adults’, whichwas a typical example of the principles of the dynamic system. Specifically,there were several dynamic principles in L2 development: 1) initial conditions,corresponding to L1 aptitude and the starting age of learning; 2) iteration,meaning the repetition and frequency of language structures; 3) variability,evidenced by the U-shape language learning curve; 4) self-organization, relatedto change; 5) emergence, marked by new forms/uses by language learners; 6)phase shifts, corresponding to learning stages; 7) variation, displaying itselfin the learning paths; 8) coordination, embodied in the automatization oflanguage usages; 9) attractor states, signifying the entrenchment of thoselanguage usages. These principles were then exemplified by some of herresearches. Prof. Verspoor then concluded that the L2 development wascharacterized by non-linearity and that the findings from group studies andindividual studies were not interchangeable.
The lecturewas followed by a workshop session, in which Prof. Verspoor demonstrated indetail the Monte Carlo analysis on Excel sheets. In the end, she received loudapplause for the clear explanation and the sharing of the technique.