This is due August 31(Friday) Individual...
This is due August 31(Friday)
Individual: Language Acquisition Principles Paper
a) Select and read a recent (since 2005) professional journal article that pertains to language acquisition principles for ELL students.
b) Write a 500-750 word essay in which you summarize the article and then address the following:
i) State how teachers might apply information from the article to their personal situation.
ii) React to the article through a synthesis of your opinion on the article's content.
c) Use appropriate SEI terminology throughout the paper. Use the Walqui article to describe how each factor affects second language acquisition and how teachers can support the acquisition of a second language.
This is the part(Walqui) article she wants us to incorporate into our essay.
Contextual Factors in
Second Language Acquisition
AÍDA WALQUI, WEST ED, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
ERIC CLEARINGHOUSE ON LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS • CENTER FOR APPLIED LINGUISTICS •XXXXXNW • WASHINGTON DCNNN-NN-NNNN•(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr />While many discussions about learning a second language
focus on teaching methodologies, little emphasis is given to
the contextual factors—individual, social, and societal—that
affect students’ learning. These contextual factors can be considered
from the perspective of the language, the learner, and
the learning process. This digest discusses these perspectives
as they relate to learning any second language, with a particular
focus on how they affect adolescent learners of English
as a second language.
Several factors related to students’ first and second languages
shape their second language learning. These factors
include the linguistic distance between the two languages,
students’ level of proficiency in the native language and their
knowledge of the second language, the dialect of the native
language spoken by the students (i.e., whether it is standard
or nonstandard), the relative status of the students’ language
in the community, and societal attitudes toward the students’
Specific languages can be more or less difficult to learn,
depending on how different from or similar they are to the
languages the learner already knows. At the Defense Language
Institute in Monterey, California, for example, languages are
placed in four categories depending on their average learning
difficulty from the perspective of a native English speaker.
The basic intensive language course, which brings a student
to an intermediate level, can be as short as 24 weeks for languages
such as Dutch or Spanish, which are Indo European
languages and use the same writing system as English, or as
long as 65 weeks for languages such as Arabic, Korean, or
Vietnamese, which are members of other language families
and use different writing systems.
Native language proficiency
The student’s level of proficiency in the native language—
including not only oral language and literacy, but also
metalinguistic development, training in formal and academic
features of language use, and knowledge of rhetorical patterns
and variations in genre and style—affects acquisition
of a second language. The more academically sophisticated
the student’s native language knowledge and abilities, the
easier it will be for that student to learn a second language.
This helps explain why foreign exchange students tend to be
successful in American high school classes: They already have
high school level proficiency in their native language.
Knowledge of the second language
Students’ prior knowledge of the second language is of
course a significant factor in their current learning. High
school students learning English as a second language in a
U.S. classroom may possess skills ranging from conversational
fluency acquired from contacts with the English-speaking
world to formal knowledge obtained in English as a foreign
language classes in their countries of origin. The extent and
type of prior knowledge is an essential consideration in planning
instruction. For example, a student with informal conversational
English skills may have little understanding of
English grammatical systems and may need specific instruction
in English grammar.
Dialect and register
Learners may need to learn a dialect and a formal register
in school that are different from those they encounter in their
daily lives. This involves acquiring speech patterns that may
differ significantly from those they are familiar with and value
as members of a particular social group or speech community.
Consideration of dialects and registers of a language and
of the relationships between two languages includes the relative
prestige of different languages and dialects and of the
cultures and ethnic groups associated with them. Students
whose first language has a low status vis a vis the second may
lose their first language, perhaps feeling they have to give up
their own linguistic and cultural background to join the more
prestigious society associated with the target language.
Language attitudes in the learner, the peer group, the
school, the neighborhood, and society at large can have an
enormous effect on the second language learning process,
both positive and negative. It is vital that teachers and students
examine and understand these attitudes. In particular,
they need to understand that learning a second language does
not mean giving up one's first language or dialect. Rather, it
involves adding a new language or dialect to one's repertoire.
This is true even for students engaged in formal study of
their first language. For example, students in Spanish for native
speakers classes may feel bad when teachers tell them
that the ways they speak Spanish are not right. Clearly, this
is an issue of dialect difference. School (in this case, classroom
Spanish) requires formal registers and standard dialects,
while conversation with friends and relatives may call for
informal registers and nonstandard dialects. If their ways of
talking outside of school are valued when used in appropriate
contexts, students are more likely to be open to learning
a new language or dialect, knowing that the new discourses
will expand their communicative repertoires rather than displace
their familiar ways of communicating.
Students come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse
needs and goals. With adolescent language learners, factors
such as peer pressure, the presence of role models, and the
level of home support can strongly affect the desire and ability
to learn a second language.
ERIC CLEARINGHOUSE ON LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS •(NNN) NNN-NNNN•[email protected] • WWW. C A L . O R G / E R I C C L L
This digest was prepared with funding from the U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Library of Education, under contract no. ED-99-CO-0008. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of ED, OERI, or NLE.
A basic educational principle is that new learning should
be based on prior experiences and existing skills. Although
this principle is known and generally agreed upon by educators,
in practice it is often overshadowed by the administrative
convenience of the linear curriculum and the single
textbook. Homogeneous curricula and materials are problematic
enough if all learners are from a single language and cultural
background, but they are indefensible given the great
diversity in today’s classrooms. Such diversity requires a different
conception of curricula and a different approach to
materials. Differentiation and individualization are not a
luxury in this context: They are a necessity.
Learners’ goals may determine how they use the language
being learned, how native-like their pronunciation will be,
how lexically elaborate and grammatically accurate their utterances
will be, and how much energy they will expend to
understand messages in the target language. Learners’ goals
can vary from wholly integrative—the desire to assimilate and
become a full member of the English-speaking world—to primarily
instrumental—oriented toward specific goals such as
academic or professional success (Gardner, 1989). Educators
working with English language learners must also consider
whether the communities in which their students live, work,
and study accept them, support their efforts, and offer them
genuine English-learning opportunities.
Teenagers tend to be heavily influenced by their peer
groups. In second language learning, peer pressure often undermines
the goals set by parents and teachers. Peer pressure
often reduces the desire of the student to work toward native
pronunciation, because the sounds of the target language may
be regarded as strange. For learners of English as a second
language, speaking like a native speaker may unconsciously
be regarded as a sign of no longer belonging to their
native-language peer group. In working with secondary school
students, it is important to keep these peer influences in mind
and to foster a positive image for proficiency in a second
Students need to have positive and realistic role models
who demonstrate the value of being proficient in more than
one language. It is also helpful for students to read literature
about the personal experiences of people from diverse language
and dialect backgrounds. Through discussions of the
challenges experienced by others, students can develop a better
understanding of their own challenges.
Support from home is very important for successful second
language learning. Some educators believe that parents
of English language learners should speak only English in
the home (see, e.g., recommendations made in Rodríguez,
1982). However, far more important than speaking English is
that parents value both the native language and English, communicate
with their children in whichever language is most
comfortable, and show support for and interest in their children’s
The Learning Process
When we think of second language development as a learning
process, we need to remember that different students have
different learning styles, that intrinsic motivation aids learning,
and that the quality of classroom interaction matters a
Research has shown that individuals vary greatly in the
ways they learn a second language (Skehan, 1989). Some learners
are more analytically oriented and thrive on picking apart
words and sentences. Others are more globally oriented, needing
to experience overall patterns of language in meaningful
contexts before making sense of the linguistic parts and forms.
Some learners are more visually oriented, others more geared
According to Deci and Ryan (1985), intrinsic motivation
is related to basic human needs for competence, autonomy,
and relatedness. Intrinsically motivated activities are those
that the learner engages in for their own sake because of their
value, interest, and challenge. Such activities present the best
possible opportunities for learning.
Language learning does not occur as a result of the transmission
of facts about language or from a succession of rote
memorization drills. It is the result of opportunities for meaningful
interaction with others in the target language. Therefore,
lecturing and recitation are not the most appropriate
modes of language use in the second language classroom.
Teachers need to move toward more richly interactive language
use, such as that found in instructional conversations
(Tharp & Gallimore, 1988) and collaborative classroom work
(Adger, Kalyanpur, Peterson, & Bridger, 1995).
While this digest has focused on the second language acquisition
process from the perspective of the language, the
learner, and the learning process, it is important to point out
that the larger social and cultural contexts of second language
development have a tremendous impact on second language
learning, especially for immigrant students. The status of students’
ethnic groups in relation to the larger culture can help
or hinder the acquisition of the language of mainstream
Adger, C., Kalyanpur, M., Peterson, D., & Bridger, T. (1995). Engaging
students: Thinking, talking, cooperating. Thousand Oaks,
Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and
self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.
Gardner, H. (1989). To open minds: Chinese clues to the dilemma of
contemporary education. New York: Basic.
Rodriguez, R. (1982). Hunger of memory: The education of Richard
Rodriguez, an autobiography. Toronto: Bantam.
Skehan, P. (1989). Individual differences in second-language learning.
London: Edward Arnold.
Tharp, R.G., & Gallimore, R. (1988). Rousing minds to life: Teaching,
learning, and school in social context. New York: Cambridge
This digest is drawn from Access and Engagement: Program Design and Instructional Approaches for Immigrant Students in Secondary Schools, by Aída Walqui,
the fourth volume in the Topics in Immigrant Education series.