Language acquisition is one of the most impressive and fascinating aspects of human development
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Language acquisition is one of the most impressive and fascinating aspects of human development. Lightbown , P.M. and Spada , N. 2011. How Languages are Learned. Oxford University Press. Popular Opinions About Language Learning and Teaching. Hold up 5 fingers if you strongly agree.

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Language acquisition is one of the most impressive and fascinating aspects of human development

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Language acquisition is one of the most impressive and fascinating aspects of human development

Lightbown, P.M. and Spada, N. 2011. How Languages are Learned. Oxford University Press.

Popular Opinions About Language Learning and Teaching

  • Hold up 5 fingers if you strongly agree

Popular Opinions About Language Learning

  • Languages are learned mainly through imitation.

  • Parents usually correct young children when they make grammatical errors.

  • Highly intelligent people are good language learners.

  • The most important predictor of success in second language acquisition is motivation.

Popular Opinions About Language Learning

  • The earlier a second language is introduced in school programs, the greater the likelihood of success in learning.

  • Most of the mistakes that second language learners make are due to interference from their first language.

  • The best way to learn new vocabulary is through reading.

  • It is essential for learners to be able to pronounce all the individual sounds in the second language.

Popular Opinions About Language Learning

  • Teachers should present grammatical rules one at a time, and learners should practice examples of each one before going on to another example.

  • Teachers should teach simple language structures before complex ones.

  • Learners’ errors should be corrected as soon as they are made in order to prevent the formation of bad habits.

  • Teachers should use materials that expose students to only those language structures they have already been taught.

  • When learners are allowed to interact freely (in group or pair activities), they copy each other’s mistakes.

Popular Opinions About Language Learning

  • Students learn what they are taught.

  • Teachers should respond to students’ errors by correctly rephrasing what they have said rather than by explicitly pointing out the error.

  • Students can learn both language and academic content simultaneously in classes where the subject matter is taught in their second language.

What do we need to know about the students we teach?

Second Language Acquisition Theory (SLA)

Learner Differences

Principles of Child Development

Characteristics of Children at Different Stages of Development

Second Language Acquisition

  • If we understand what makes learners learn faster and progress further, then maybe we can be better teachers or learners – teachers must have a thorough understanding of how learners learn. Understanding the route learners follow, and having clear expectations of what learners can achieve at given points on the developmental continuum, is crucially important for learners and teachers.

Second Language Acquisition

  • Stephen Krashen

    • Acquiring vs. Learning Languages

    • Comprehensible Input (i + 1)

  • James Asher

    • Total Physical Response (TPR)

    • Listen and perform actions

  • Merrill Swain (1985): Output

    • “Pushed” output

    • Error correction

  • Implications of Second Language Acquisition for Teachers

    • For acquisition to occur, learners need rich natural input and interaction (Universal Grammar, Krashen, Communicative Language Teaching).

    • Learning also involves the strengthening of associations and the automatisation of routines ( a more behaviorist view of learning). Thus learners are seen as central to the acquisition process, in the sense that they have to practice until patterns are well established. The role of input, interaction and feedback, and how they can speed up development, is seen as much more crucial, as is the role of practice in the development of fluency and control of the L2 system.

    SLA Research and Good Practice

    • Learning is a highly complex process influenced by a myriad of factors

      • Time and intensity of instruction

      • Low-anxiety learning environments

      • Rich, culturally-appropriate target language environment supplemented with realia, props, visuals

      • Multi-sensory, emotionally-charged experiences

      • Repetition of content but in novel tasks and situations

      • Quality and intentionality of instruction

      • Opportunities to use the language, to engage with the language, and to construct personal meaning

    Historical View of Second Language Teaching and Learning

    • Grammar Translation –

      • Originated in teaching classical languages

      • Objective was to give learners tools to read texts – vocabulary, grammar, translation techniques

  • Audio-lingual (ALM) –

    • Based on behaviorism and contrastive analysis

    • Emphasized oral listening and repetition

    • Few opportunities for authentic language use

  • Communicative Approaches –

    • Exclusive focus on meaning

    • Little to no error correction

  • Brain Research

    Study the following number. You have 20 seconds…


    Brain Research

    Write the number from memory…

    You’ve got 20 seconds.

    Brain Research

    How did you do?


    What helped you remember the number?

    Brain Research

    How did you do?

    What helped you remember the number?

    Brain Research

    American Revolution/Declaration of Independence



    Memory and Retention of Learning

    During a learning episode,

    we remember best that which comes first,

    second best that which come last,

    and least that which come just past the middle.

    Based on How the Brain Learns(2nd ed.) by David A. Sousa

    Influence of Brain Research on SLA

    • Patterns/Meaningfulness

      • We know that the brain searches for patterns as it organizes information creating schema

      • Thus, learners need complex, meaningful experiences from which they construct their own patterns of understanding

    • Memorability/Emotional Impact

      • Emotions drive attention and create memory pathways in the brain

      • Attention influences memory and learning

      • Emotions also refer to classroom climate; the more supportive, friendly, and collaborative, the greater the chance that learners will retain content and be able to use it in new situations

    Social Dimension of Learning

    “The opportunity to interact in the second language is central to developing second language proficiency.”

    Ellis (2008)

    Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

    • Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.

    • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.

    • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

    • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.

    • Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

    • Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.

    • Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

    Thematic Teaching

    Thematic Units, what they are…

    • Units of study organized around a theme

    • Content-based or content-related

    • Guided by national and state standards

    • Opportunities for students to develop interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational communication skills

    • Rooted in cultural comparisons and contrasts

    Thematic Units, what they are not…

    • Vocabulary topics

    • A list of grammar points

    • A content-based unit devoid of cultural content

    • The scope and sequence of a textbook

    • Metalanguage

    Stages of Cognitive Development Piaget

    Egan’s Layers of Educational Development

    Journal Reflection

    • Based on the readings completed and the class discussion…

      • What key components define an effective lesson?

      • Which specific strategies/techniques should be evidenced?

    The Solar System

    • Using the TEFL Framework, find evidence of effective world languages teaching in the video clip of Ms. Appel’s lesson.

    • Share evidence with a small group (4) classmates.

    • What advice would you give the teacher to enhance learning among these children?

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