It is important to note that neither first nor second language acquisition is yet fully understood.
basic language acquisition Theories
First Language Acquisition Theories: (Three)
behaviorist / innatist / interactionist
behaviorism as a major learning theory emphasizing stimulus, response, and reinforcement. as well as imitation and association. Behaviorists assumed that the child's mind was a tabula rasa, blank mental slate. concepts of imitation and reinforcement could not account for novel utterances produced.
Chomsky was a linguist - concluded that language acquisition could only be accounted for by an innate, biological language acquisition device (LAD) or system....prewired infants....innate grammar template or universal grammar. graduallly construct the grammar of their mother tongue
The interest in the role of people in the social environment provides the focus of the interactionist perspective - the role of the social environment and the influence of parents and caregivers on children's lanugage acquisition.
scaffolding provides conversational assistance and focused linguistic input tuned to the child's own interests and language use at that moment. - (this has not been verified)
Children's language developes over time, not within a single interaction. - interactions do not necessarily lead to immediate understanding. Rudimentary understandings must be developed and refined over time, often through misunderstandings.
Second Language Acquisitions: behaviorists
behaviorist language teaching method popular in 1960's - audiolingual method.....first taught to listen and speak and then to read and write based on the assumption that this is the natural sequence in first language acquisition.
innatist second language acquisition:
creative construction theory: data analysis showed that the majority of errors were similar to those made by native english-speaking youngsters as they acquired their mother tongue. proposed that ELL learners creatively construct the rules of the second lanuage in a manner similar to that observed in first language acquisition. when the rules of the two languages are quite different, constrastive anaylsis predicts learner difficulty.
Krashen's Five Hypotheses:
- 1. the acquisition-learning thypothesis
- 2. the monior hypothesis
- 3. the natural order hypothesis
- 4. the input hypothesis
- 5. the affective filter hypothesis
1. The Aquisition-Learning Hypothesis: (Krashen's Five Hypotheses)
- Acquisition is the natural language development process that occurs when the target language is used in meaningful interactions with native speakers, in a manner similiar to first language acquisition - with no particular attention to form. Langauge learning, in contrast, refers to the formal and conscious study of language forms and functions as explicitly taught in foreign language classrooms.
- a) claims that learning cannot turn into acquisition b) and it is only acquired language that is available for natural, fluent communication.
2. The Monitor Hypothesis (Krashen's)
he suggested that the formal study of language leads to the development of an internal grammar editor or monitor who "watches output to ensure correct usage........to use the monitor three conditions are necessary - sufficient time, focus on grammatical form and explicit knowledge of the rules....the true base of their language knowledge is only that which has been acquired - therefore the focus of language teaching should be communication, not rote rule learning....
3. The natural order hypothesis: (krashen)
language learners acquire (rather than learn) the rules of language in a predicatable sequence. some early / some late with some variations
4. The input hypothesis: (krashen)
the acquisition of a second language is the direct result of learners' understanding the target language in natural communication situations........the input language must not only be understandable, thus the term comprehensible input, but should contain grammatical structures that are just a bit beyond the acquirerer's current level - use context from extra clues such as gestures, pictures, general background knowledge.
in summary Krashen:
language is acquired (not learned) / speech is not taught directly but emerges on its own - early speech is not grammatically accurate.
free-choice reading on topics of interest to students as an excellent way to acquire both vocabulary and other aspects of language.
5. The affective Filter Hypothesis (krashen)
the most important affective variables favoring second language acquisition are a low-anxiety learning envionment, student motivation to learn the langauge, self-confidence and self-esteem.
Kragen summarizes "People acquire second languages when they obtain comprehensible input and when their affective filters are low enough to allow the input in (to the language acquistion device)."
so....comprehensible input is the causative variable in second language acquisition....listening to and understanding spoken language is the essential ingredient in second langauge acquisition.
Krashen urges teachers not to force production, but rather to allow students a silent period during which they can acquire some langauge knowledge by listening and understanding, as opposed to learning it through meaningless rote drills.
- 1) focus on communication, not grammatical form
- 2) allows students a silent period, rather than forcing immediate speech production
- 3) create a low-anxiety environment (sheltered instruction or SDAIE = specially designed academic instruction in English)
Interactionist perspective in Second Language acquisition:
interactionists view the communicative give and take of natural conversations between native and non-native speakers as the crucial element of the language acquisition process. as people try to understand and be understood referred to as the negotiation of meaning
Table 2.2 instructional implications of second language acquisition theories
Two way immersion programs described in chapt 1 represent one of the few educational alternatives that explicitly promote equal status between language minority ad language majority students, with both groups learning the native language of the other while developing full bilingualism and biliteracy.
However, few people report reaching a substantial level of communicative competence unless they spent time in a country where the language was spoken.
second language acquisition is facilitated by the rich language exposure available and by the inherent need to communicate - foreign language study tends to be limited in opportunities and necesssity to use the language for functional communication.
age on arrival bears heavily on seond language acquitistion processes and eventual levels of attainment. it takes at least five to seven years to reach a level of ELD sufficient for academic success in English.......there are also social and cultural factors, personality factors, differences in school expectations of younger and older learners.....
as kindergarten teachers know, younger children learn more by talking while doing than by listening to a long verbal explanation from the teacher. The same holds true for young English Language Learners.
First, we have seen that the process of acquiring a second language is facilitated when learners and speakers of the target language have the opportunity and desire to communicate with each other.
making use of natural cognitive and linguistic processes similar to those involved in acquireing their first language, ELL take the language they hear spoken around them and use it gradually to acquire the new language.
two types of language:
BICS - basic interpersonal communication skills = social conversation purposes
CALP - cognitive academic language proficiency = formal language skills- listening, speaking, reading & writing, used for academic learning
remember: even though students may appear fairly proficient in english during basic social interactions, they are still likely to need special support to be able to learn and display their knowledge iof complex academic material through their second language.......
language acquisition is of a long-term nature.
The elementary curriculum provides many opportunities to help students learn socially and culturally appropriate language use.
making small talk........appropriate phrases and ways of expressing emotions such as gratitude, impatience, empathy, enthusiasm, and even anger are all needed as students develop full communicative competence in English.
use teachers of english to speakers of other language standars (TESOL)
to help build social and cultural language competence into your preK-12 curriculum.
Paraphrasing, repetition of key points, reference to concrete materials, and acting out meanings are some of the ways speakers can help convey meaning and thus make language more understanding
- verbal / non-verbal
- social interactions - facial expression, dramatization, repetition and so on....
can communicate at a rudimentary level through actions, nods, facial expressions.
as a rule of thumb....
you may provide words and word forms to beginning English learners to help them make themsevles understood, thereby maintaining a communication focus.