Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 June 2021
Chapter 2, The Gifted Language Learner, outlines the long-standing fascination in SLA with those who are able to reach a native-like level in a second language (L2). Up to now, gifted language learning (GLL) is nearly exclusively investigated in terms of cognitive processing, e.g., as a function of aptitude, memory or musical talent, rather than as an outgrowth of language contact or cultural affiliation.
Understanding the need for greater consistency in empirical work in this area, we specify what “native-likeness” looks like in linguistic terms for lexicon, morphosyntax, phonology, pragmatics, etc. We also dig deeply into case studies of exceptional L2 learners in order to find commonalities in their approach. These in-depth examinations bring a number of issues into sharp focus, and build the argument that GLL is not the result of any singular source of influence. The interaction of numerous factors, playing out in context, tells the real tale.