Skip to main content


  • Margaret Thomas (a1)
    • Published online: 01 September 1998

Second language acquisition theory conventionally represents itself as having been invented ex nihilo in the last decades of the twentieth century. This article investigates the nature of this largely unexamined disciplinary self-concept and questions its validity. I dispute arguments that might be formulated to support the notion that SLA theory has no relevant earlier history, enumerate some of the unfortunate consequences of maintaining this belief, and speculate about benefits to the field that might accrue from abandoning it. Instead of presenting SLA theory as having its origin in the last 20 or 30 years, I suggest that we need to look for ways to identify, investigate, and eventually reconceptualize its true history.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this work may be sent to: Margaret Thomas, Program in Linguistics, Department of Slavic and Eastern Languages, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. e-mail:
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Studies in Second Language Acquisition
  • ISSN: 0272-2631
  • EISSN: 1470-1545
  • URL: /core/journals/studies-in-second-language-acquisition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 17 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 200 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.