The Role Of Consciousness And Second Language Learning Essay

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The role of consciousness in learning has been a heavily debated topic. Many researchers have been hesitant to even use the term “consciousness” when discussing the topic due to its vague nature and its difficulty to operationalize. Schmidt (1992) was one of the first researchers to explore in depth the true relationship of consciousness to second language learning. He operationalized the construct of consciousness under the umbrella term awareness. Awareness encapsulated attention and noticing, and implicit and explicit learning, factor groups which made awareness crucial for language learning (Schmidt, 1992). The factors attention and noticing held many interest’s as the notion of having a specific focus on the input, and noticing being vital to learning a new language, seemed unrealistic. The noticing hypothesis states it is one’s ability to change the input to long-term memory by not simply just noticing the input, but noticing all linguistic forms that are necessary to learn (Schmidt, 1992). These theories received backlash as many believed language could be acquired subconsciously without any target focus. Implicit and explicit learning shared a similar idea, but stressed the act of “understanding” (Schmidt, 1992). Understanding existed as a more complex form of noticing as it was less restricted to target learning and memorization. It was the ability to unconsciously internalize principals of the language. The contrast between the terms is implicit learning
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