The nature of the relationship between the teaching and learning of second
languages in the classroom has rarely been the subject of empirical investigation.
The teaching profession tends to regard this relationship as a relatively direct one.
Teaching which is based on a language syllabus explicitly or implicitly assumes
that, given sufficiently frequent presentation and practice, learning will take place
in a linear, cumulative fashion, although actual teaching practices may intuitively
respond to learning being different. Since teachers are concerned with
establishing which methods bring about the desired learner outcomes, interest in
the learner is generally restricted to observations of what it is he has learnt and
what he still has to learn, rather than how he learns.
Second language acquisition research, on the other hand, has tended to focus
on the learner, without necessarily relating his behaviour to the learning context.
It has also involved mainly informal or only partially formal learners. Relatively
few studies have considered learners who were exposed to the second language
only in the classroom. At the same time the results of studies with informal or
mixed learners have often been assumed to apply also to classroom-only learners.
In particular, it has been suggested that second language developm ent follows its
own principles and therefore cannot be influenced by instruction.
The purpose of the present study is to investigate the acquisition of a second
language by classroom-only learners in relation to the teaching learners were
exposed to. Subjects of the study are 42 child and 6 adult learners of G erm an, all
native speakers of English. The study examines the development of negation and
We will find that the relationship between learning and teaching is not always
a direct one and will interpret this as the result of learners’ organic, creative
interlanguage construction. At the same time we will consider the operation of
linear, imitative learning processes, which result in the use of formulaic language,
as a more direct outcome of the teaching. We will conclude that the acquisition
of a second language in the classroom involves both organic, creative and linear,