Second Language Acquisition Prepared By: Dr. Emma Alicia Garza Assistant Professor Texas A&M University-Kingsville
What is Second Language Acquisition? • In second language learning, language plays an institutional and social role in the community. It functions as a recognized means of communication among members who speak some other language as their native tongue. • In foreign language learning, language plays no major role in the community and is primarily learned in the classroom. • The distinction between second and foreign language learning is what is learned and how it is learned.
What is the Study of Second Language Acquisition? It is the study of: • how second languages are learned; • how learners create a new language system with limited exposure to a second language; • why most second language learners do not achieve the same degree of proficiency in a second language as they do in their native language; and • why some learners appear to achieve native-like proficiency in more than one language.
How Do Learners Acquire a Second Language? • Learners acquire a second language by making use of existing knowledge of the native language, general learning strategies, or universal properties of language to internalize knowledge of the second language. • These processes serve as a means by which the learner constructs an interlanguage (a transitional system reflecting the learner’s current L2 knowledge). • Communication strategies are employed by the learner to make use of existing knowledge to cope with communication difficulties.
The Language Learner • Individual differences affect L2 acquisition. These may include: (1) the rate of development and (2) their ultimate level of achievement. • Learners differ with regard to variables relating to cognitive, affective and social aspects of a human being. • Fixed factors such as age and language learning aptitude are beyond external control. Variable factors such as motivation are influenced by external factors such as social setting and by the actual course of L2 development. • Cognitive style refers to the way people perceive, conceptualize, organize and recall information. • Field dependent learners operate holistically. They like to work with others. Field independent learners are analytic and prefer to work alone.
Learner Strategies Learner strategies are defined as deliberate behaviors or actions that learners use to make language learning more successful, self-directed and enjoyable. • Cognitive strategies relate new concepts to prior knowledge. • Metacognitive strategies are those which help with organizing a personal timetable to facilitate an effective study of the L2. • Social strategies include looking for opportunities to converse with native speakers.
Strategies Natural Order of Strategies of Second Language Development Chesterfield & Chesterfield (1985) identified a natural order of strategies in the development of a second language. 1) repetition (imitating a word or structure); 2) memorization (recalling songs, rhymes or sequences by rote); 3) formulaic expressions (words or phrases that function as units i.e. greetings); 4) verbal attention getters (language that initiates interaction); 5) answering in unison (responding with others); 6) talking to self (engaging in internal monologue); 7) elaboration (information beyond what is necessary); 8) anticipatory answers (completing another’s phrase or statement); 9) monitoring (self-correcting errors); 10) appeal for assistance (asking someone for help); 11) request for clarification (asking the speaker to explain or repeat); and 12) role-playing (interacting with another by taking on roles).
Theory Theories of Second Language Acquisition Universalist Theory defines linguistic universals from two perspectives: • The data-driven perspective which looks at surface features of a wide-range of languages to find out how languages vary and what principles underlie this variation. The data-driven approach considers system external factors or input as the basis. • The theory-driven perspective which looks at in-depth analysis of the properties of language to determine highly abstract principles of grammar. System internal factors are those found in cognitive and linguistic processes.
Theory Universalist Theory (Continued) • Several Characteristics of the data-driven approach include the following: • It has language typology which delves into patterns which exist among languages and how they vary in human languages. • Language universals focus on what is common. For example, subject/verb/object. • Implicational universals which refer to the properties of language such as “all languages have vowels” without looking at any other properties. • Several Characteristics of the theory-driven approach include the following: • Language is acquired through innateness. Certain principles of the human mind are biologically determined. • There are sets of principles and conditions where knowledge of language develops. • Universal grammar is seen as part of the brain.
Theory Theories of Second Language Acquisition (Continued) Behaviorist Theory dominated both psychology and linguistics in the 1950’s. This theory suggests that external stimuli (extrinsic) can elicit an internal response which in turn can elicit an internal stimuli (intrinsic) that lead to external responses. • The learning process has been described by S-R-R theorists as a process forming stimulus-response-reward chains. These chains come about because of the nature of the environment and the nature of the learner. • The environment provides the stimuli and the learner provides the responses. Comprehension or production of certain aspects of language and the environment provide the reward. • The environment plays a major role in the exercise of the learners’ abilities since it provides the stimuli that can shape responses selectively rewarding some responses and not others.
Theory Behaviorist Theory (Continued) • When the learner learns a language, this learning includes a set of stimulus-response-reward (S-R-R) chains. • Imitation provides the learner with a repertoire of appropriate, productive responses. The learner learns to imitate or approximate the productive responses provided by the environment. • The characteristics of human and non-human learners include the ability to: • respond to stimuli in a certain way; • intuitively evaluate the reward potential of responses; • extract the important parameters that made up the stimulus response (positive reward chains); and • generalize these parameters to similar situations to form classes of S-R-R chains.
Theory Theories of Second Language Acquisition (Continued) Nativist Theory views language acquisition as innately determined. Theorists believe that human beings are born with a built-in device of some kind that predisposes them to acquire language. • This predisposition is a systematic perception of language around us, resulting in the construction of an internalized system of language. • Nativists are on the opposite end of the theoretical continuum and use more of a rationalist approach in explaining the mystery of language acquisition. • Chomsky (1965) claimed the existence of innate properties of language that explain a child’s mastery of his/her native language in a short time despite the highly abstract nature of the rules of language. • This innate knowledge, according to Chomsky, is embodied in a “little black box” of sorts called a Language Acquisition Device (LAD).
Theory Nativist Theory (Continued) • McNeill (1966) described the LAD as consisting of four innate linguistic properties: • the ability to distinguish speech sounds from other sounds in the environment; • the ability to organize linguistic events into various classes that can be refined later; • knowledge that only a certain kind of linguistic system is possible and that other kinds are not; and • the ability to engage in constant evaluation of the developing linguistic system in order to construct the simplest possible system out of the linguistic data that are encountered. • Nativists have contributed to the discoveries of how the system of child language works. Theorists such as Chomsky, McNeill, and others helped us understand that a child’s language, at any given point, is a legitimate system in its own right.
Theory Theories of Second Language Acquisition (Continued) Cognitivist Theory views human beings as having the innate capacity to develop logical thinking. This school of thought was influenced by Jean Piaget’s work where he suggests that logical thinking is the underlying factor for both linguistic and non-linguistic development. • The process of association has been used to describe the means by which the child learns to relate what is said to particular objects or events in the environment. The bridge by which certain associations are made is meaning. The extent and accuracy of the associations made are said to change in time as the child matures. • Cognitivists say that the conditions for learning language are the same conditions that are necessary for any kind of learning. The environment provides the material that the child can work on. • Cognitivists view the role of feedback in the learning process as important for affective reasons, but non-influential in terms of modifying or altering the sequence of development.
Theory Cognitivist Theory (Continued) Language Learning as a Cognitive Process • Learning a language involves internal representations that regulate and guide performance. • Automatic processing activates certain nodes in memory when appropriate input is present. Activation is a learned response. • Memory is a large collection of nodes. • Controlled processing is not a learned response. It is a temporary activation of nodes in a sequence. • Skills are learned and routinized only after the earlier use of controlled processes have been used. • Learner strategies contain both declarative knowledge i.e. knowing the ‘what’ of the language-internalized rules and memorized chunks of language, and procedural knowledge i.e. know the ‘how’ of the language system to employ strategies.
Theory Theories of Second Language Acquisition (Continued) Social Interactionist Theory supports the view that the development of language comes from the early interactions between infants and caregivers. Social interactionists stress: • the importance of a child’s interactions with parents and other caregivers; • the importance of “motherese”; • contributions of context and world knowledge; and • the importance of goals Glew (1998) claims that learners have to be pushed in their negotiation of meaning to produce comprehensible output. The classroom context needs to provide adequate opportunities for target language use to allow learners to develop competence in the target language.
Theory Social Interactionist Theory (Continued) • Comprehensible output provides opportunities for contextualized, meaningful use of language. • Social interactionists believe that: • Human language emerged from the social role that language plays in human interaction; • The environment plays a key role in language development; • Adults in the child’s linguistic environment are viewed as instrumental in language acquisition. • Social interactions are the key element in language processing and input from social interactions provides a model for negotiation opportunities.
1 2 Krashen’s Five Hypotheses for Second Language Acquisition The Acquisition-LearningHypothesis claims that we have two independent ways of developing language ability: • Language Acquisition is a subconscious process. It occurs very naturally in a non-threatening environment. The research strongly supports the view that both children and adults can subconsciously acquire languages. • Language Learning is what occurs at school in an academic setting. It is a conscious process. When we talk about rules and grammar of language, we are usually talking about learning. The Natural OrderHypothesis claims that we acquire parts of a language in a predictable order. Some grammatical items tend to come earlier in the acquisition than others. For example, the –ing progressive is acquired fairly early in first language acquisition, while third person singular –s is acquired later.
5 4 3 Krashen’s Five Hypotheses (Continued) The Monitor Hypothesis attempts to explain how acquisition and learning are used. Language is normally produced using our acquired linguistic competence. Conscious learning has only one function…as the “Monitor” or “Editor.” After we produce some language using the acquired system, we sometimes inspect it and use our learned system to correct errors. This can happen internally before we actually speak or write, or as a self-correction after we produce the utterance or written text. Comprehensible Input Hypothesis contends that more comprehensible input results in more acquisition. The Affective Filter Hypothesis claims that affective variables do not impact language acquisition directly, but can prevent input from reaching what Chomsky called the Language Acquisition Device. The LAD is the part of the brain that is responsible for language acquisition.
Cummin’s Second Language Framework Cummins makes a distinction between social language and academic language. 1. Social language refers to the everyday conversational language which is supported by the use of illustrations, realia, demonstrations, etc. (Context Embedded). Studies show that language learners acquire social language in approximately two years. Social language deals with the here-and-now language, therefore second language learners tend to acquire it faster. 2. Academic language is the language of school tasks which is more abstract and decontextualized (Context Reduced). Some second language learners who develop fluent spoken English have difficulties in reading and writing because they may be at different levels of proficiency while they are moving from social language (BICS) to academic language (CALP). It takes between five to seven years for second language learners to acquire academic language.
Context-Embedded Cognitively Undemanding Sample Tasks Context-Embedded/Cognitively Undemanding tasks are supported by the use of pictures, illustrations, demonstrations, connections with life experiences, etc. Language learning is non-threatening and learners are able to depend on environmental cues for assistance. Some sample tasks include: • developing survival vocabulary; • following demonstrated directions; • playing simple games; • engaging in face-to-face interactions; and • participating in art, music and physical education activities.
Context-Embedded Cognitively Demanding Sample Tasks Context-Embedded/Cognitively Demanding tasks are those activities that provide some environmental cues, but are more cognitively demanding. Language learners are exposed to more complex tasks that include some context-embedded cues. Examples of these tasks include: • participating in hands-on science and mathematics activities; • making maps, models, charts, and graphs; • solving math computational problems; • making brief oral presentations; • understanding academic presentations through the use of visuals, demonstrations, active participation, realia, etc.; and • writing academic reports with the aid of outlines, structures, etc.
Context-Reduced Cognitively Undemanding Sample Tasks Context-Reduced/Cognitively Undemanding tasks are those activities that are simple to carry out but do not contain any environmental cues to assist the language learner. Some sample tasks include: • engaging in telephone conversations; • reading for personal purposes; and • writing for personal purposes: notes, • lists, sketches, etc.
Context-Reduced Cognitively Demanding Sample Tasks Context-Reduced/CognitivelyDemanding tasks are those that require more academically demanding language, are more abstract and are decontextualized. Some examples of these tasks include: • understanding academic presentations without visuals or demonstrations (lectures); • making formal oral presentations; • solving math word problems without illustrations; • writing compositions, essays, and research reports in content areas; • reading for information in content areas; and • taking standardized achievement tests.
Components of Communicative Competence • Canale and Swain (1983) identified four components of communicative competence: 1) grammatical competence 2) sociolinguistic competence 3) discourse competence 4) strategic competence • Grammatical competence means understanding the skills and knowledge necessary to speak and write accurately. Grammatical competence includes: 1) vocabulary 2) word formation 3) meaning 4) sentence formation 5) pronunciation 6) spelling • Sociolinguistic competence involves knowing how to produce and understand the language in different sociolinguistic contexts, taking into consideration such factors as: 1) the status of the participants 2) the purpose of the interaction; and 3) the norms or conventions of the interaction.
Components of Communicative Competence (Continued) • Discourse competence involves the ability to combine and connect utterances (spoken) and sentences (written) into a meaningful whole. Discourse ranges from a simple spoken conversation to long written texts. • Strategic competence involves the manipulation of language in order to meet communicative goals. It involves both verbal and non-verbal behaviors. Speakers employ this competence for two main reasons: 1) to compensate for breakdowns in communication such as when the speaker forgets or does not know a term and is forced to paraphrase or gesture to get the idea across; and 2) to enhance the effectiveness of communication such as when a speaker raises or lowers the voice for effect.
Competence Vs. Performance • According to Chomsky (1965), competence consists of mental representations of linguistic rules that constitute the speaker-hearer’s internal grammar. • This internal grammar is implicit rather than explicit. It is evident in the intuitions, which the speaker-hearer has about the grammaticality of sentences. • Performance consists of the use of this grammar in the comprehension and production of the language. • Communicative competence is that aspect of the language user’s competence that enables them to convey and interpret messages and to negotiate meanings interpersonally within specific contexts. • Language is a form of communication that occurs in social interaction. It is used for a purpose such as persuading, commanding, and establishing social relationships. No longer is the focus on specific knowledge of grammatical form. Instead, the competent speaker is recognized as one who knows when, where, and how to use language appropriately.
Language Learning • Behaviorist’s views of language learning and of language teaching were pre-dominant in the two decades following the second world war. These views drew on general theories of learning propounded by psychologists such as Watson (1924), Thorndike (1932), and Skinner (1957). • Dakin (1973) identifies three general principles of language learning derived from these theories. • According to the law of exercise, language learning is promoted when the learner makes active and repeated responses to stimuli. • The law of effect emphasizes the importance of reinforcing the learners’ responses and correcting non-target-like ones. • The principle of shaping claims that learning will proceed most smoothly and rapidly if complex behaviors are broken down into their component parts and learned bit-by-bit.
Language Learning (Continued) • Underlying these principles was the assumption that language learning, like any other kind of learning, took the form of habit formation, “a habit consisting of an automatic response elicited by a given stimulus. • Learning was seen to take place inductively through analogy rather than analysis. • According to behaviorist theories, the main impediment to learning was interference from prior knowledge. • Proactive inhibition occurred when old habits got in the way of attempts to learn new ones. In such cases, the old habits had to be unlearned so that they could be replaced by the new ones. • The notion of unlearning made little sense as learners did not need to forget their L1 in order to acquire an L2. • For this reason, behaviorist theories of L2 learning emphasized the idea of “difficulty.” This is defined as the amount of effort required to learn an L2 pattern. • The degree of difficulty was believed to depend primarily in the extent to which the target language pattern was similar to or different from a native language pattern.
Input and Interaction • L2 acquisition can only take place when the learner has access to input in the second language. This input may come in written or spoken form. • Spoken input occurs in face-to-face interactions. Non-reciprocal discourse includes listening to the radio or watching a film. • Behaviorists claim that presenting learners with input in the right doses and then reinforcing their attempts to practice them can control the process of acquisition. • Chomsky pointed out that in many cases there was a very poor match between the kind of language found in the input that learners received and the kind of language they themselves produced. • Comprehensible input (Krashen’s, 1985 Input Hypothesis) proposed that learners acquire morphological features in a natural order as a result of comprehending input addressed to them. Long (1981a) argued that input which is made comprehensible by means of the conversational adjustments that occur when there is a comprehension problem is especially important for acquisition. • Swain (1985) proposed the comprehensible output hypothesis which states that learners need opportunities for “pushed output” in speech or writing that makes demands on them for correct and appropriate use of the L2.
Language Transfer The Role of the Native Language in Second Language Acquisition • The role of native language in second language acquisition has come to be known as “language transfer.” • It has been assumed that in a second language learning situation learners rely extensively on their native language. • According to Lado (1957) individuals tend to transfer forms and meanings, the distribution of the forms and meanings of their native language and culture to the foreign language and culture. • This transfer is productive when the learner attempts to speak the language. • This transfer is receptive when the learner attempts to grasp and understand the language and culture as practiced by native speakers. • Lado’s work and much of the work of that time (1950’s) was based on the need to produce pedagogically relevant materials. A contrastive analysis of the native language and the target language was conducted in order to determine similarities and differences in the languages.
Language Transfer Framework for Explaining L1 Transfer • The L1 system is used for both comprehension and production. • The interlanguage system is also used in comprehending and receiving messages. • The L1 system is used in hypothesis construction responsible for interlanguage development. • Comprehensible input serves as a major source of information for hypothesis construction. • L2 output may be used for hypothesis construction.
Theory Toward a Theory of First Language Transfer • An important distinction not always made in discussions of transfer is between transfer in L2 communication and transfer in L2 learning. • Transfer in communication involves the use of the L1 either to receive incoming messages (reception) or to process output (production). • Transfer in learning occurs when the learner uses the L1 in an attempt to develop hypotheses about L2 rules. • There are several possibilities for transfer: 1) it is primarily a characteristic of communication 2) it is primarily a feature of learning 3) both communication and learning transfer are significant and interrelated aspects of L2 acquisition.
Language Transfer Language Transfer • Where the two languages were identical, learning could take place through positive transfer to the native-language pattern. • Where the two languages were different, learning difficulty arose and errors occurred resulting from negative transfer. • Chomsky (1959) set in motion a re-evaluation of many of the behaviorists claims. This re-evaluation included area such as: • the dangers of extrapolating from laboratory studies of animal behavior to the language behavior of humans were pointed out; • the terms stimulus and response were exposed as vacuous where language behavior was concerned; • analogy could not account for the language user’s ability to generate totally novel utterances; and • studies of children acquiring their L1 showed that parents rarely corrected their children’s linguistic errors, thus casting doubt on the importance of reinforcement in language learning. • All this led to the reconsideration of the role of L1 in L2 learning.
The Nature of the Interlanguage Continuum • Cognitive theories of interlanguage claim that with the assistance of learning strategies, learners build mental grammars of the second language. • Learners draw on the rules they have constructed to interpret and produce utterances. • Learner’s utterances are only erroneous with reference to the target language norms, not to the norms of their own grammars. • The interlanguage continuum consists of a series of overlapping grammars. Each share some rules with the previously constructed grammar, but also contains some new or revised rules. • A rule has the status of a hypothesis.
Selinker’s Interlanguage Theory • Selinker’s Interlanguage Theory maintains the separateness of a second language learner’s system and gives the system a structurally intermediate status between the native and target languages. • According to Selinker, second language learners are producing their own self-contained linguistic system. The system is not a native language or target language system, rather it falls between the two. • Stages of Interlanguage Development include: 1) random errors (presystematic); 2) experimentation and inaccurate guessing; 3) emergent-growing in consistency in linguistic production; 4) backsliding-appears to have grasped but later regressed and unable to correct errors; 5) systematic stage-ability to correct errors on their own; rules may not be well-formed but display more internal self-consistency; 6) stabilization-few errors are made, have mastered the system to the point of fluency; and 7) intralingual-inconsistencies within the target language; Global errors-affect meaning;local errors-close similarities in word form (i.e. spelling). • Interlanguage Continuum Interlanguage Stages L1 L2 ______/____/______/____/_______/_____/___/_____/_____/______ Basilang Mesolang Acrolang
Error Identification Identification of Learner Errors • An error can be defined as a deviation from the norms of the target language although questions are raised as to which variety of the target language should serve as the norm. • The general practice where classroom learners are concerned is to select the standard written dialect as a norm. • The distinction between errors and mistakes is a concern in this type of research. Errors take place when the deviation arises as a result of lack of knowledge. Mistakes occur when learners fail to perform their competence. • Overt errors are deviations in form i.e. I runned all the way. Covert errors occur in utterances that are superficially well-formed but which do not mean what the learner intended them to mean i.e. It was stopped. What does it refer to? • Should the analysis of errors examine only deviations in correctness or also deviations in appropriateness? Correctness errors involve rules of language use i.e. learner invites a stranger by saying I want you to come to the cinema with me. The code was used correctly it was not used appropriately. • There are three types of interpretation of errors: 1) normal- can assign a meaning to an utterance based on the rules of the target language; 2) authoritative-involves asking the learner to say what the utterance means in order to make an authoritative reconstruction; and 3) plausible-can be obtained by referring to the context in which the utterance was produced or by translating the sentence literally into the learner’s L1.
Learner Errors • Error Analysis is used for examining errors as a way of investigating learning processes. • Much of the early work on learner errors focused on the extent to which L2 acquisition was the result of L1 transfer or creative construction (construction of unique rules similar to those which children form in the course of acquiring the native language). • The presence of errors that mirrored L1 structures was taken as evidence of transfer (interlingual), while those errors similar to those observed in L1 acquisition were indicative of creative construction (intralingual). • The study of learner errors showed that although many errors were caused by transferring L1 habits, many more were not. • It was found that learners went through stages of acquisition and the nature of errors varied according to their level of development. • Error analysis could not show when learners resorted to avoidance and it ignored what learners could do correctly.
Error Analysis Error Analysis • The conceptualization and significance of errors took on a different role with the publication of an article by Pit Corder (1967) entitled “The Significance of Learner Errors.” Errors are not just to be seen as something to be eradicated, but rather can be important in and of themselves. • Errors provide evidence of a system (learners attempt to figure out some system). This evidence can provide information on the state of a learner’s knowledge of the L2. They are not to be viewed solely as a product of imperfect learning. • The distinction of error and mistake is also important in EA. Mistakes are slips of the tongue. The speaker who makes a mistake is able to recognize it as a mistake and correct it if necessary.
Error Analysis Error Analysis(Continued) • An error is systematic. It is likely to occur repeatedly and is not recognized by the learner as an error. The learner has incorporated a particular erroneous from the perspective of the target language into his/her own system. • The learner has created a systematic entity called an interlanguage. • Errors are only errors with reference to some external norm such as the target language. For example, if a learner produces “No speak.” or “No understand.” and if we assume that these are consistent deviations and form a part of a learner’s system, then it is only possible to think of them as errors with regard to English, but not with regard to the learner’s system. • Error analysis is a type of linguistic analysis that focuses on the errors learners make. The comparison made in EA is between the errors a learner makes producing the target language and the target language form itself. • Research in EA was carried out within the context of the classroom. The goal was pedagogical remediation.
Hypothesis Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis • Contrastive analysis is a way of comparing languages in order to determine potential errors for the ultimate purpose of isolating what needs to be learned and what does not need to be learned in a second language learning situation. • Lado detailed that one does a structure-by-structure comparison of the sound system, morphological system, syntactic system and even the cultural system of two languages for the purpose of discovering similarities and differences. • The ultimate goal of contrastive analysis is to predict areas that will be either easy or difficult for learners. • There are two positions that developed with regard to CA: (1) strong (2) weak. • The strong version (predictive) maintained that one could make predictions about learning and hence about the success of language teaching materials based on a comparison between two languages. • The weak version (explanatory) starts with an analysis of learners’ recurring errors (error analysis). It begins with what learners do and then attempts to account for those errors on the basis of native language-target language differences.
Language Acquisition for School: The Prism ModelThomas & Collier, 1997 Social and Cultural Processes L1+ L2 Academic Development L1+ L2Language Development L1 + L2 Cognitive Development
Cognitive Development • The cognitive dimension is a natural subconscious process that occurs developmentally from birth to the end of schooling and beyond. • An infant initially builds thought processes through interacting with loved ones in the language of the home. • This is an important stepping-stone to build on as cognitive development continues. • It is important that cognitive development continue through a child’s first language at least through the elementary years. • Extensive research has demonstrated that children who reach the threshold in L1 by around age 11 to 12 enjoy cognitive advantages over monolinguals.
Academic Development • Academic development includes all school work in language arts, math, the sciences, and social studies for each grade level, K-12. • With each succeeding grade, academic work dramatically expands the vocabulary, sociolinguistic, and discourse dimensions of language to higher cognitive levels. • Academic knowledge and conceptual development transfer from first language to second language. • It is most efficient to develop academic work through the student’s first language, while teaching second language during other periods of the school day through meaningful academic content. • In earlier decades, schools in the United States emphasized teaching second language as the first step and postponing the teaching of academics. • Research has shown that postponing or interrupting academic development is likely to promote academic failure.
Language Development • Linguistic processes consist of the subconscious aspects of language development, an innate ability all humans possess for acquisition of oral language, as well as the metalinguistic, conscious, formal teaching of language in the school and acquisition of the written system of language. • This includes the acquisition of the oral and written systems of the student’s first and second languages across all language domains, such as phonology, vocabulary, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse. • To assure cognitive and academic success in a second language, a student’s first language system, oral and written, must be developed to a high cognitive level at least through the elementary school years.
Sociocultural Processes • At the heart of the figure is the individual student going through the process of acquiring a second language at school. • Central to that student’s acquisition of language are all of the surrounding social and cultural processes occurring through everyday life within the student’s past, present, and future, in all contexts-home, school, community, and the broader society. • Sociocultural processes may include individual student variables such as self-esteem, anxiety, or other affective factors. • At school the instructional environment in a classroom or administrative program structures may create social and psychological distance between groups. • Community or regional social patterns such as prejudice and discrimination expressed towards groups or individuals in personal and professional contexts can influence students’ achievement in school, as well as societal patterns such as the subordinate status of a minority group or accuturation vs. assimilation forces. • These factors can strongly influence the student’s response to a new language, affecting the process positively only when the student is in a socioculturally supportive environment.
In ConclusionThe Learner/The Teacher The learner needs: • expectations of success; • the confidence to take risks and make mistakes; • a willingness to share and engage; • the confidence to ask for help; and • an acceptance of the need to readjust. The teacher needs: • respect for and interest in the learner’s language, culture, thought and intentions; • the ability to recognize growth points, strengths and potential; • the appreciation that mistakes are necessary to learning; • the confidence to maintain breadth, richness and variety, and to match these to the learner’s interests and direction; • to stimulate and challenge; and • a sensitive awareness of when to intervene and when to leave alone.
Bibliography • Cummins, J. (1979a). Cognitive/academic language proficiency, linguistic interdependence, the optimal age question and some other matters. Working Papers in Bilingualism. No. 19 (pp. 197-205). Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. • Ellis, R. (2003). The study of second language acquisition (10th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. • Gass, S.,& Selinker, L. (2001). Second language acquisition (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. • Krashen, S. D. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning. Oxford: Pergamon press. • Thomas, W., & Collier, V. (1997). School effectiveness for language minority students. National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education Resource Collection Series, No. 9.
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