Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Theory construction in second language acquisition
Author: Jordan, Geoffrey
ISNI:       0000 0000 3782 424X
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2004
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Whereas ten years ago most SLA researchers assumed a rationalist, "scientific" approach to theory construction, recently, growing numbers have adopted relativist positions that strongly criticise the methods, and authority of the rationalist/empiricist paradigm. Apart from the problem of research methodology, other problems make progress in the construction of a theory of SLA difficult: the proliferation of theories, contradictions among them, and, most important of all, confusion about the domain and objectives of a theory of SLA. This thesis addresses the problems outlined above by returning to first principles and asking what it is that we can know about the world, whether there is any such thing as reliable knowledge, what is special about scientific methodology, and what the best way of tackling the complex task of explaining SLA might be. While previous surveys of SLA research exist, no previous attempt has been made to examine SLA research in terms of its epistemological underpinnings and its relation to scientific method, or to evaluate different research programmes and putative theories in terms of how they form part of, and contribute towards, a rational, scientific explanation of the phenomena of SLA. Having outlined basic terms and the problems to be dealt with, I give a brief history of scientific method and explain the objections to a rationalist methodology raised by various relativists. I then attempt to defend rationality against relativists' attacks and suggest criteria that can guide a rationalist research programme in SLA. The questions of the domain of SLA theories, what counts as an explanation, and different theory types are examined. Having suggested guidelines for a rationalist approach to SLA theory construction, I examine different approaches to SLA in the history of SLA, assessing them in terms of the guidelines. Finally I suggest what the domain of a theory of SLA should be and discuss to what extent theories to date offer a satisfactory explanation of the phenomena within that domain.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available