What is bootstrapping?

  • Bootstrapping is the isolation of units of meaning [words, chunks] from the speech stream. These “big words” give learners the stepping stones to build the grammar in their heads. 
  • How do learners determine the components of syntax and grammar? It all starts with lexicon and finding meaning. e.g. isolating verbs is a stepping stone to building a mental representation of verbal morphology.
  • But boundaries between words are not clear. How do learners segment the speech stream?
    • In bootstrapping, learners might segment incorrectly,
    • or may not be able to identify what the units are.
    • they might categorize them incorrectly.
    • Learners typically pay more attention to words at the beginning and at the end of the speech stream.
    • However, these things work themselves out.

Does teaching help with bootstrapping?

  • Yes, written input can help L2 learners in bootstrapping.
  • Reading + listening can be a powerful combination to speed up acquisition compared to oral input alone. 

Source: Bill Van Patten, Tea with BVP, https://soundcloud.com/teawithbvp/episode-55-bootstrapping