The Importance of Noticing in Second Language Acquisition

Balestone emphasizes on the importance of noticing by calling the real gateway to subsequent learning. (Balestone, 1994) This has been asserted by Lynch as well who claims that noticing is the most essential ingredient of successful language learning. (Lynch, 2001) Various other researchers have marked out and pointed out the importance of noticing in second language acquisition. Sharwood and Rutherford are to name a few. They believe that noticing leads to the other subsequent stages before the language is acquired in its entirety. After noticing, the processing phase takes form and once processing starts, the language gets integrated into the learner’s mind.
However, notice can be of various, forms. It can be in both conscious as well as unconscious states of mind. According to some authors, the assertion that noticing the gap is a conscious process is not right. They feel that it can’t be a conscious process and there are far too many differences in languages that can be acquired consciously. It is not as simple as it looks like but is rather complex. Apart from this Truscott has criticized these founding’s claiming that the foundations of hypothesis in cognitive psychology are weak and it can’t be based on the rational theory of languages. He feels that noticing is not a very legitimate and strong factor in second language acquisition. He believes that noticing is only important for the acquisition of met linguistic language which is acquiring the ability to change words, fill gaps, adapt to sentence manipulations and dictate grammar rules.
Noticing acts between the input and the memory systems. Spotlight consciousness is given by short term memory and is instantiated by various influences on noticing. These are the main factors that influence noticing: Instruction, silence, task demand, perceptual silence, skills, frequency and comparing. Instruction plays an important role in laying the foundations for expectation settings about the language which are noticed by observers and adapted accordingly. Another language feature that is of considerable importance is a frequency which comes up due to repeated use of the language by teachers. This helps the learner notice the features of the language and eventually learn them accordingly. Skills set required to be incommunicado for a particular language is yet another important element that assists in noticing language in humans.