The Rationale of an Invariant-Based Textbook Theory

The Rationale of an Invariant-Based Textbook Theory

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2672-9.ch006
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


The Chapter provides a concluding conceptual overview on theoretical perspectives of the practical interpretation of binary predicative units within an invariant approach to SLA. An important advantage of the invariant-based textbook theory is that binary predicative units function within the entire discourse ranging from the simplest to the most complicated structures. Binary predicative units initiate and congregate the speech modes, successively activating egocentric, inner, and oral speech, thus developing grounds for writing. Another advantage of the invariant textbook theory and corresponding technology is the highest degree of the learner's involvement in second language acquisition. The acquirer's communicative competence is characterized not only by their ability to produce or perceive authentic utterances but also by the ability to express their attitudes and frame the interlocutor's in any form of communication.
Chapter Preview


One of the strategic goals the invariant textbook theory attempted to be accomplished is the balance between the input (the ways learners are exposed to the language they study) and the linguistic competence they actually acquire. The theory notifies a natural innate meaning perception and sense production occurring in conformity with the ordinary course of verbal exchange.

S. Carroll attaches a great significance to the problem of input to SLA. The researcher argues that a theory of input to learning is required for all sorts of reasons:

We need it, first of all, to make sense of learnability research. Learnability studies ask how it is possible in principle to learn a language. One criterion is that learners get input, but no one has, as yet, explored the minimally necessary kinds of input needed to learn a single grammatical phenomenon. This is partly due to the complexity of even “simple” grammatical phenomena, partly due to the changing nature of grammarians’ views of how to define them. (Carroll S., 2001, p. 3.)

S. Carroll’s considered opinion is that

“if we are to state how learners identify formal entities like “word”, “sentence”, or “passive construction” in the speech stream, then we will obviously need clear and unambiguous formal definitions of what they are. Secondly, it is not clear yet how to marry the idealizations of learnability theories to the psycholinguistic assumptions designed to characterize real learning in real time. (Carroll S., 2001, p. 3.)

The author concludes that “the claim that learners can learn on the basis of a single exposure to a given phenomenon is currently just as viable as the contrary claim that they need several hundred hours of exposure, correction, and practice.” (p. 3). Although the last statement could hardly be accepted unreservedly, the issue S. Carroll raises is of paramount methodological importance. There are at least two basic advantages gained at the presentation or initial self-training stage of second language acquisition due to the invariant technology (also see Chapter 4). The first strong point is that binary predicative units trigger different speech mode activities and congregate their values even in the simplest verbal forms like “To go or to stay?” or “To accept the proposal or to refuse it?” (see Example I in Chapter 3). BPUs retain their convening functions persistently synchronizing the cumulative effect produced by units of each class. The conjoined BPU function extends over the entire discourse realm, with the types of binary units and their ramifications remaining principally the same. It is a feasible task for the learner to reproduce a compound like that in the mode of egocentric speech, repeating it for themselves, thus transposing it into the inner speech sector (see Chapter 3 The Regeneration and Reinforcement of Egocentric Speech). At the same time the acquirer gains ground for their first experience of oral speech. Reflecting on a phrase like that, they mentally retrieve it to the form of a proposition: “Am I to accept or to refuse? / Shall I accept or refuse?” even if they cannot pronounce it in English yet. Thereby the learner realizes that they do not have to make a full sentence to be understood. More than that, they can judge and reason making their choices. The last point signifies the second important advantage of the invariant technology mentioned above. It is a highest degree of the learner’s involvement in language acquisition achieved due to the their seeing themselves as the agents of the situation. Thus, at the input stage of the examples given above, three types of binary predicative complexes function: elliptic units, semantic constants, individual variables and units with projective propositional predicates (see Chapter 4). The binary predicative units specified are operationally patterned by convergent structuring. The phrase like “To accept the proposal or to refuse it?” presents two binary predicative units each of which is elliptic since the argument denoting the person who is to accept or refuse is omitted. Nevertheless, the units demonstrate semantic constants following a predicative stereotype: “to accept a proposal”. At the same time the dilemma implies a matter of choice determined by a personal attitude of the speaker which is the prototype of an individual variable. The mental reconstruction of a full sentence is produced by projective propositional predicates like “Shall I accept the proposal?”. The types of units are cemented by convergent structuring centering on the speaker (the implicit subject).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: