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Immersion programs provide a sociolinguistic setting that facilitates second-language acquisition. Immersion programs are educational programs where children are instructed in an L2 language. The goal of these programs is to develop a high level of proficiency in both the L1 and L2 languages. Students in immersion programs have been shown to have greater levels of proficiency in their second language than students who receive second language education only as a subject in school.

Also, students who join immersion programs earlier generally have greater second-language proficiency than their peers who join later. However, students who join later have been shown to gain native-like proficiency. Although immersion students' receptive skills are especially strong, their productive skills may suffer if they spend the majority of their time listening to instruction only.

Grammatical skills and the ability to have precise vocabulary are particular areas of struggle. It is argued that immersion is necessary, but not sufficient for the development of native-like proficiency in a second language.


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A learner's sense of connection to their in-group, as well as to the community of the target language emphasize the influence of the sociolinguistic setting, as well as social factors within the second-language acquisition process. Social Identity Theory argues that an important factor for second language acquisition is the learner's perceived identity in relation to the community of the language being learned, as well as how the community of the target language perceives the learner.

A smaller social distance is likely to encourage learners to acquire the second language, as their investment in the learning process is greater. Conversely, a greater social distance discourages attempts to acquire the target language. However, negative views not only come from the learner, but the community of the target language might feel greater social distance to the learner, limiting the learner's ability to learn the language.

Gender, as a social factor, also influences SLA. Females have been found to have higher motivation and more positive attitudes than males for second-language acquisition. However, females are also more likely to present higher levels of anxiety, which may inhibit their ability to efficiently learn a new language. There have been several models developed to explain social effects on language acquisition. Schumann's Acculturation Model proposes that learners' rate of development and ultimate level of language achievement is a function of the "social distance" and the "psychological distance" between learners and the second-language community.

In Schumann's model the social factors are most important, but the degree to which learners are comfortable with learning the second language also plays a role. Gardner's model focuses on the emotional aspects of SLA, arguing that positive motivation contributes to an individuals willingness to learn L2; furthermore, the goal of an individual to learn a L2 is based on the idea that the individual has a desire to be part of a culture, in other words, part of a the targeted language mono-linguistic community. Factors, such as integrativeness and attitudes towards the learning situation drive motivation.

The outcome of positive motivation is not only linguistic, but non-linguistic, such that the learner has met the desired goal. Although there are many critics of Gardner's model, nonetheless many of these critics have been influenced by the merits that his model holds. A unique approach to SLA is Sociocultural theory.

It was originally developed by Lev Vygotsky and his followers. The ZPD notion states that social interaction with more advanced target language users allows one to learn language at a higher level than if they were to learn language independently. According to Ellis, "It is important to recognize Linguistic approaches to explaining second-language acquisition spring from the wider study of linguistics.

They differ from cognitive approaches and sociocultural approaches in that they consider language knowledge to be unique and distinct from any other type of knowledge. Typological universals are principles that hold for all the world's languages. They are found empirically, by surveying different languages and deducing which aspects of them could be universal; these aspects are then checked against other languages to verify the findings.

The interlanguages of second-language learners have been shown to obey typological universals, and some researchers have suggested that typological universals may constrain interlanguage development. The theory of universal grammar was proposed by Noam Chomsky in the s, and has enjoyed considerable popularity in the field of linguistics. It focuses on describing the linguistic competence of an individual.

He believed that children not only acquire language by learning descriptive rules of grammar; he claimed that children creatively play and form words as they learn language, creating meaning of these words, as opposed to the mechanism of memorizing language. Universal grammar theory can account for some of the observations of SLA research. For example, L2-users often display knowledge about their L2 that they have not been exposed to.

This unsourced knowledge suggests the existence of a universal grammar. There is considerable variation in the rate at which people learn second languages, and in the language level that they ultimately reach. Some learners learn quickly and reach a near-native level of competence, but others learn slowly and get stuck at relatively early stages of acquisition, despite living in the country where the language is spoken for several years.

The reason for this disparity was first addressed with the study of language learning aptitude in the s, and later with the good language learner studies in the s. More recently research has focused on a number of different factors that affect individuals' language learning, in particular strategy use, social and societal influences, personality, motivation, and anxiety. The relationship between age and the ability to learn languages has also been a subject of long-standing debate.

The issue of age was first addressed with the critical period hypothesis. However, the exact age marking the end of the critical period is debated, and ranges from age 6 to 13, with many arguing that it is around the onset of puberty. However, in general, adolescent and adult learners of a second-language rarely achieve the native-like fluency that children who acquire both languages from birth display, despite often progressing faster in the initial stages.

This has led to speculation that age is indirectly related to other, more central factors that affect language learning. Children who acquire two languages from birth are called simultaneous bilinguals. In these cases, both languages are spoken to the children by their parents or caregivers and they grow up knowing the two languages. These children generally reach linguistic milestones at the same time as their monolingual peers. People often assume that a sequential bilingual's first language is their most proficient language, but this is not always the case.

Over time and experience, a child's second language may become his or her strongest. Proficiency for both simultaneous and sequential bilinguals is dependent upon the child's opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations in a variety of contexts. Often simultaneous bilinguals are more proficient in their languages than sequential bilinguals. One argument for this is that simultaneous bilinguals develop more distinct representations of their languages, especially with regards to phonological and semantic levels of processing.

Learning a language earlier in life would help develop these distinct representations of language, as the learner's first language would be less established. Conversely, learning a language later in life would lead to more similar semantic representations. Although child learners more often acquire native-like proficiency, older child and adult learners often progress faster in the initial stages of learning. Once surpassed, older learners often display clear language deficiencies compared to child learners.

This has been attributed to having a solid grasp on the first language or mother tongue they were first immersed into. Having this cognitive ability already developed can aid the process of learning a second language since there is a better understanding of how language works. The exact language deficiencies that occur past a certain age are not unanimously agreed upon.

Some believe that only pronunciation is affected, while others believe other abilities are affected as well. However, some differences that are generally agreed upon include older learners having a noticeable accent, a smaller vocabulary, and making several linguistic errors. One explanation for this difference in proficiency between older learners and younger learners involves Universal Grammar.

Universal Grammar is a debated theory that suggests that people have innate knowledge of universal linguistic principles that is present from birth. The rules and principles that guide the use of the learners' native language plays a role in the way the second language is developed. Some nonbiological explanations for second-language acquisition age differences include variations in social and psychological factors, such as motivation; the learner's linguistic environment; and the level of exposure. Even with less advantageous nonbiological influences, many young children attain a greater level of proficiency in their second language than older learners with more advantageous nonbiological influences.

Considerable attention has been paid to the strategies learners use to learn a second language. Strategies have been found to be of critical importance, so much so that strategic competence has been suggested as a major component of communicative competence. Learning strategies are techniques used to improve learning, such as mnemonics or using a dictionary. Communicative strategies are strategies a learner uses to convey meaning even when he or she doesn't have access to the correct form, such as using pro-forms like thing , or using non-verbal means such as gestures.

If learning strategies and communicative strategies are used properly language acquisition is successful. Some points to keep in mind while learning an additional language are: providing information that is of interest to the student, offering opportunities for the student to share their knowledge and teaching appropriate techniques for the uses of the learning resources available. Another strategy may include intentional ways to acquire or improve their second language skills.

The learner's attitude to the learning process has also been identified as being critically important to second-language acquisition. Anxiety in language-learning situations has been almost unanimously shown to be detrimental to successful learning. Anxiety interferes with the mental processing of language because the demands of anxiety-related thoughts create competition for mental resources. This results in less available storage and energy for tasks required for language processing. Further, the apprehension created as a result of anxiety inhibits the learner's ability to retrieve and produce the correct information.

A related factor, personality, has also received attention. There has been discussion about the effects of extravert and introvert personalities. Extraverted qualities may help learners seek out opportunities and people to assist with L2 learning, whereas introverts may find it more difficult to seek out such opportunities for interaction. Further, while extraversion might be beneficial through its encouragement of learning autonomously, it may also present challenges as learners may find reflective and time-management skills to be difficult. Other personality factors, such as conscientiousness , agreeableness , and openness influence self-regulation, which helps L2 learners engage, process meaning, and adapt their thoughts, feelings, and actions to benefit the acquisition process.


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Both genetics and the learner's environment impact the personality of the learner, either facilitating or hindering an individual's ability to learn. Social attitudes such as gender roles and community views toward language learning have also proven critical. Language learning can be severely hampered by cultural attitudes, with a frequently cited example being the difficulty of Navajo children in learning English [ citation needed ].

Also, the motivation of the individual learner is of vital importance to the success of language learning. Motivation is influenced by goal salience , valence , and self-efficacy. However, motivation is dynamic and, as a L2 learner's fluency develops, their extrinsic motivation may evolve to become more intrinsic.

Further, a supportive learning environment facilitates motivation through the increase in self-confidence and autonomy. Attrition is the loss of proficiency in a language caused by a lack of exposure to or use of a language. One way it does this is by using L1 as a tool to navigate the periods of change associated with acquisition and attrition. A learner's L2 is not suddenly lost with disuse, but its communicative functions are slowly replaced by those of the L1. Similar to second-language acquisition, second-language attrition occurs in stages.

However, according to the regression hypothesis, the stages of attrition occur in reverse order of acquisition. With acquisition, receptive skills develop first, and then productive skills, and with attrition, productive skills are lost first, and then receptive skills. Age, proficiency level, and social factors play a role in the way attrition occurs.

However, if a child has established a high level of proficiency, it may take them several years to lose the language. Proficiency level seems to play the largest role in the extent of attrition. For very proficient individuals, there is a period of time where very little, if any, attrition is observed. For some, residual learning might even occur, which is the apparent improvement within the L2.

A cognitive psychological explanation for this suggests that a higher level of proficiency involves the use of schemas , or mental representations for linguistic structures. Schemas involve deeper mental processes for mental retrieval that are resistant to attrition. As a result, information that is tied to this system is less likely to experience less extreme attrition than information that is not. In particular, motivation and attitude influence the process. Higher levels of motivation, and a positive attitude toward the language and the corresponding community may lessen attrition.

This is likely due to the higher level of competence achieved in L2 when the learner is motivated and has a positive attitude. While considerable SLA research has been devoted to language learning in a natural setting, there have also been efforts made to investigate second-language acquisition in the classroom.

This kind of research has a significant overlap with language education , and it is mainly concerned with the effect that instruction has on the learner. It also explores what teachers do, the classroom context, the dynamics of classroom communication. It is both qualitative and quantitative research. The research has been wide-ranging.

There have been attempts made to systematically measure the effectiveness of language teaching practices for every level of language, from phonetics to pragmatics, and for almost every current teaching methodology. This research has indicated that many traditional language-teaching techniques are extremely inefficient. Rather, to become proficient in the second language, the learner must be given opportunities to use it for communicative purposes.

Another area of research has been on the effects of corrective feedback in assisting learners. This has been shown to vary depending on the technique used to make the correction, and the overall focus of the classroom, whether on formal accuracy or on communication of meaningful content. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about natural acquisition of a second language. For classroom learning, see Language education.

Outline History Index. Grammatical theories. Main article: Interlanguage. Main article: Order of acquisition. Main article: Language transfer. Main article: Individual variation in second-language acquisition. Main article: Second-language attrition. Main article: Second-language acquisition classroom research. Linguistics portal Languages portal. Main article: Outline of second-language acquisition. Bilingualism neurology Dynamic approach to second language development International auxiliary language Language learning aptitude Language acquisition Language complexity List of common misconceptions about language learning List of language acquisition researchers Native-language identification Psycholinguistics Second-language attrition Sociolinguistics Theories of second-language acquisition Vocabulary learning.

This strict separation of learning and acquisition is widely regarded as an oversimplification by researchers today, but his hypotheses were very influential and the name has stuck. See Krashen for a review of these studies.

Cited by other publications

Sharwood Smith and Kellerman preferred the term crosslinguistic influence to language transfer. They argued that cross-linguistic influence was neutral regarding different theories of language acquisition, whereas language transfer was not. Archived from the original on 22 November Retrieved 3 May October Wired : Cognitive Science.

Archived from the original on 28 March Archived PDF from the original on Retrieved Archived from the original on 11 June Retrieved 10 June Natural Order Hypothesis 2 :Interlanguage". Quentin, a course run from to Archived from the original on Theory and Practice in Language Studies. How Languages are Learned. Oxford University Press. Lexical Processing and Second Language Acquisition. New York, NY: Routledge.

Additional language acquisition: An update for paediatricians". Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. Adult Education Quarterly. Allwright, Dick; Hanks, Judith Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. Anderson, J. American Journal of Psychology. Ashcraft, M. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Bailey, N. Language Learning. Bates, E. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Brown, Roger A First Language. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Canale, M. Applied Linguistics. Chang, Charles B. Journal of Phonetics. Cook, Vivian Second Language Learning and Language Teaching. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. DeKeyser, Robert In Doughty, Catherine; Williams, Jessica eds. New York: Cambridge University Press. Doughty, Catherine; Williams, Jessica, eds.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dulay, H. Dulay, Heidi; Burt, Marina In Richards, Jack ed. Error Analysis. New York: Longman. In Dulay, Heidi; Burt, Marina eds. Elley, W. Ellis, N. Ellis, Rod The Study of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. Second Language Acquisition. Oxford Introductions to Language Study. Studies in Second Language Acquisition. Ellis, Rod; Barkhuizen, Patrick Analysing Learner Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Erton, I. Hacettepe University Journal of Education. Flege, James Emil Gass, S. In Altarriba, J.

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Gass, Susan; Selinker, Larry Retrieved — via Google Books. Hansen, Lynne Second Language Attrition in Japanese Contexts. Harley, B. Haynes, Judie Kohnert, K. Krashen, Stephen Krashen, Stephen a. New York: Pergamon Press. Krashen, Stephen b. Studia Linguistica. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Pergamon Press. In Ellis, Nick ed. The generational digital divide is a sharp example of the case. Now two assumptions will spring to our mind. One the one hand, taking them all as factors at one fell swoop characteristic of the individuals actually reminds us of an ideal or perfect teacher and an imperfect learner, a categorization once improperly made by Phillipson between a native speaker and nonnative speaker, respectively.

On the other hand, such a rigid categorization of the prompter and receptor of assistance in learning reminds us of at least a condition where a nurse feeds a person with paralysis, in which the two opposite variables carry fixed values or definitions, or at most a case where a mother just helps her baby drink the milk a Vygotskyan portrayal of assistance , which does not often occur in adult L2 learning contexts in the same way — an issue wherefore Vygotsky himself has been the target of worldwide objections.

Another issue of concern is the time or condition in which the learner is assumed to be incapable of articulating a piece of language. It has been frequently stated e. The argument sparks a number of controversial issues in practical terms. First, except in certain frequently-used collocational constructions, how can a teacher or peer , who is assumed by the researchers to be more knowledgeable, etc.

To substantiate the point, it is argued that for the most part, interactional or collective scaffolding see Donato takes place at the level of microgenesis , i. Furthermore, we cannot assume any symmetrical interaction in a classroom in which the discourse members are heterogeneous in development of knowledge of different types, talk speed, false start, repetition, reformulation, simplification, code switching, topic shifting, etc. Therefore, the interaction is always asymmetric, and within the enormity of heterogeneity, this asymmetry is in most instances unknown to the interacting students.

More importantly, the teacher is not always cognitively ready for, and even prone to, assisting a single learner to advance their discourse. Far from scaffolding interlanguage development, negotiation sequences may distract the learners and overload the processing systems they are using, with the result that even when successful scaffolded negotiations occur which produce more complex language, these may not have an impact upon underlying change because there is no time to consolidate them.

Second-language acquisition

Or does the instructor, or peer, identify exactly what has been missed in a dynamic interaction process? As far as our knowledge permits, research fails to provide such evidence. Still to support the arguments, the ZPD itself is also open to major controversies and there are questions that have remained unresolved. By and large, the ZPD notion has been reported to be a complex construct often subject to misinterpretation e. Despite the early conception of the ZPD assumed to regulate the interaction between learning and development Lantolf , there are voices e.

Shayer also notes that the concept of the ZPD does not imply that the levels of learning are hierarchically ordered or neatly sequenced. In fact, Shayer claims that Vygotsky explicitly stated that they are not. Another persistent relevant issue is the assumption that given sporadic attempts e. From a different perspective, Lantolf also points up that the fundamental assumptions concerned with the ZPD were inadequate to provide distinctions between unassisted learner performance and the performance generated through scaffolded assistance.

Having reviewed the research traditions on the sociocultural aspects of L2 learning, Mitchell and Myles , questioned the issues of rates and routes of learning and development relevant to the ZPD, asserting that the Vygotskyan theory of learning offers almost nothing to address the given issues very centrally. To substantiate their claim, they therefore introduced a fundamental gap relevant to the ZPD by asking the question: Does intervention in the ZPD simply scaffold people more rapidly along common routes of interlanguage development, or can it bypass or alter these routes, by skilled co-construction?

The third, and yet final, issue that many writers suggest in relation to the scaffolding is that the assistance or support provided to the learner to develop the language in the ZPD is temporary and progressively discarded e. The underlying reason the writers e. The problem actually lies in both the temporariness of help and the support type. Evidence from the recent instructed SLA research provides reservations about whether instruction has effect on L2 learning and development see, e.

However, the strong version is that learning takes effect when instruction is geared to negotiated interaction along with modification of input to the effect of comprehension, production and development process e.

1 Introduction

In other words, acquisition does not take place in a vacuum but is deeply embedded in a sociocultural milieu, which is anchored in and through the social practices Gass and Selinker italics added. In this process, learners need input that is comprehensible and processible. How this meaning is extracted and communicated is for the learners to be a matter of getting engaged in the meaningful negotiation. The degree of contextuality for changing the input to intake and the amount of exposure the learner has to the input are also significant in contributing to the acquisition of the target language aspect s Gass Moreover, acquisition is determined by the constraints of developing interlanguage system over time Doughty Moreover, we cannot ignore the fact that part of the acquisition occurs in the mind of the learners, which is not detectable unless part, not all of, the cognitive operations can be observed in the interactions, which differs from learner to leaner in terms of how long it takes to occur.

There is no guarantee that whatever feedback types the instructor provides, such as confirmation checks, recasts, requests for clarification, etc.

Cognitive Processing in Second Language Acquisition: Inside the Learner's Mind - Google книги

Our argument is that instructional assistance can never be predetermined to be either temporary or long. For different learners and different aspects to be learnt, the optimal distance between actual and potential level will vary, and accordingly the ZPD is not based on what needs to be taught, but on the characteristics of the system at a given point in time. In other words, the system creates its own ZPD and it is up to a teacher to find out for an individual learner how to make optimal use of that gap. It is not surprising — it is not even senseless — to ask how the instructor can detect this optimal condition for individual learners in order to provide them with effective support.

In this case, we should not forget that language instructors widely differ in the degree of professional competence in teaching. Since then, many second language researchers have taken much interest in targeting their thoughts and efforts at investigating the construct and its impact on L2 learning and development from a variety of angles, to the extent that there are now a wide range of perspectives and conceptions surrounding the term. There are generally two versions of approaching the term. The strong version favors an asymmetrical structure of scaffolding, asserting that interactants of unequal status can jointly construct knowledge e.

The advocates of this view argue that for scaffolding to be effective involves an expert-novice interaction in which the assistance is transmitted from the expert, e. The weak version of scaffolding focuses on the symmetrical position, although it does not reject the strong form. Those supporting the symmetrical scaffolding underscore the point that the assistance may occur among the interactants of equal status, i. The main thrust of their position is that most interaction in communicative classrooms takes place between students.

We have argued that the problem is not the assistance we as teachers provide in the classroom; rather, the conceptions underpinning the scaffolding in L2 education is logically open to questions. We have also shown earlier and point up here that as long as the phenomenological nature of scaffolding is at issue in SLA, we can hardly accept the definitions that have been provided concerning the notion. We have found three common features in the definitions of scaffolding, each with specific logical problems.

Put it briefly, the rigid classification of the prompter and receptor in the assistance process is by no means logical because it is almost impossible to instantly detect how knowledgeable, for example, the prompter is and, at the same time, how unknowledgeable the receptor is, especially when the so-called notion of scaffolding is most likely to occur in advanced cognitive operations, when the gap in the ZPD tends to be difficult to pin down, and when it is to take place between the learners who have unfortunately been described as the interactants of equal status.

There is also no symmetrical structure of scaffolding because the differential knowledge in students is not immediately detectable. Moreover, whether or not, we must accept that knowledge in humans is variably growing. The second problem we have found with the definition lies in the inability zone of language production. It is clear that SLA research is ambivalent toward the function of the ZPD construed by the professionals of the field decades ago. Many writers base their arguments upon the findings from a limited number of studies e.

However, these studies failed to indicate how they could identify the rates and routes of learning and development relevant to the ZPD Mitchell and Myles In addition, we must no longer view the ZPD as a fixed attribute of an individual, but rather as an unpredictable nexus of people and tools in an activity to jointly create conditions for language development Wells, Finally, we have taken issue with the third part of the definition which is concerned with the temporariness and the type of the assistance the language teacher provides.

In addition, we cannot claim that the input we provide the student with is the same type of assistance he needs because, after all, the learner is constantly modifying the input to be geared to the missing knowledge. There are times when the input fails as well. What makes the above discussion significant is not just the range of variation in the conceptual meaning of scaffolding but the fact that such conceptual variation causes great confusion in the operational definition of the term in the practice and research of second language acquisition.

To conclude, we would like to bring two points to the foreground: first, as long as the nature of scaffolding and the conceptual underpinnings developed in retrospection regarding the term are at stake, future studies on the notion will probably suffer a severe loss of pedagogical and intellectual significance and validity.

Second, if you feel that scaffolding is the right word of use to SLA, as Van Lier also pointed out, do not use it as a magical instrument to solve whatever learning problems that come up for language learners. It is acknowledged that the present manuscript has not been published or is not under consideration in any form elsewhere. The present manuscript has been designed and completed without receiving any funding from organizations or institutions.

All the authors of the review including ME, SR, and LS, have contributed to the conception of the study, and have been involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and have given the final approval of the version to be published. Each author has participated sufficiently in the work to take responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.

The authors declare that they have no financial or nonfinancial competing interests. Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF.

The logical problem of scaffolding in second language acquisition. Open Access. First Online: 26 October Phenomenological nature of scaffolding and its implication Scaffolding is now widely conceptualized in SLA research as a dialogic process structured asymmetrically i. Definitions and conceptual dimensions of scaffolding While the earlier conceptualization of scaffolding in the first language acquisition context is quite clear, the construct has experienced significant variations in meaning and definition in SLA Van Lier Status of the prompter and receptor Historically speaking, there have been serious attempts to inspire rigorous characterizations of who really scaffolds and who receives scaffolding when it comes to the issue of learning a second language.

Inability zone of language production Another issue of concern is the time or condition in which the learner is assumed to be incapable of articulating a piece of language. Second, the so-called scaffolding seems to be applicable more in low proficiency levels of second language learning where the grammatical and lexical structures are highly predictable to the language teachers, but not necessarily to the students.

Therefore, students of high proficiency normally make less predictable and more complex constructions of L2 with more frequency and variation of lexical and syntactic structures. Cognitive processing in more advanced level of proficiency is almost impossible to tap due to its unobservable saliency and speed in production. So it would normally be hard for a language teacher, or a peer student, to distinguish the missing articulation in less predictable performance.

Even when the gap is identified and the assistance is provided, it often turns out to be futile. Skehan provides a good reason for the case, saying that: Far from scaffolding interlanguage development, negotiation sequences may distract the learners and overload the processing systems they are using, with the result that even when successful scaffolded negotiations occur which produce more complex language, these may not have an impact upon underlying change because there is no time to consolidate them.

De Bot, Lowie and Verspoor clarify the condition as follows: …optimal learning takes place when the maximal accommodation takes place, that is when the system changes maximally or when the distance between the actual level and the potential level is optimal. Acknowledgements It is acknowledged that the present manuscript has not been published or is not under consideration in any form elsewhere. Funding The present manuscript has been designed and completed without receiving any funding from organizations or institutions.

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