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Second Language Acquisition Theories.
Compiled by Deborah Coker Revised for this in-service
As the nation‟s population has become inundated with immigrants from many different nations speaking many different languages and dialects, educators have sought instructional practices that will expedite English Language acquisition in a practical, efficient, and meaningful manner. A plethora of theories have evolved and they can be broken down into four major categories:
1. 2. 3. 4. Behaviorist Cognitivist Humanistic Constructivist (Postmodern Techniques of Knowledge)
2008) . and encouraging meta-cognition and self-reflection in order to increase students‟ self knowledge and capacity for making conscious meaning.41) “Align learning with the brain and its natural ways of knowledge acquisition.” • Humanistic (p.65) “Leave behind one-size-fits-all methods and negotiate activities and objectives based on the needs of the learner. 37) “Use behavioral training for accurate pronunciation and rote memory of information such as object and motor vocabulary.51) “Reduce tension and support a positive emotional state in the learner.” • Cognitivist (p. using knowledge of learning styles and multiple intelligences.Schools of Thought: • Behaviorist (p. (Diaz-Rico.” • Postmodern Techniques of Knowledge: Constructivist (p.
” (p. sequenced steps. emphasizes explicit instructional objectives for students and promotes the learning of facts.39)There is a shaping of response and external rewards are faded. 39) • Direct Teaching and Mastery Learning:" This type of learning (Diaz-Rico. Great for those at the non-verbal stage of language acquisition.Behaviorist Approach Major strategies used in the behaviorist approach: • B. often using technology such as tape recordings in language laboratories.38) • The Audio-lingual Method: “Students developed correct language habits by repetitious training.”(p.38-39) .38) • Asher‟s Total Physical Response: “Based on the association between language and body movement.” (p.Skinner‟s Experimental Behaviorism: “Actions followed by an immediate positive effect (reward) tend to be repeated.F. or rules. and actions followed by an immediate negative effect (punishment) tend to be discontinued. p.” (p.
Cognitive Approach *Provided the theoretical basis for the Natural Approach.” (p.41-48) . p. short-term memory (information encoding).41) Krashen‟s Monitor Model: “Krashen considered acquisition (an unconscious Information-Processing Theories: “The sensory register process that occurs when language is used for real communication) more important that learning (which involves “knowing about” language and its rules) in achieving fluency. the language acquisition device (LAD) which generates rules through the unconscious acquisition of grammar. • • • • Major strategies used in the Cognitive approach include: Chomsky‟s Generative Grammar: “Language is learned through reinforcement and an active language processor. adjusted over time by repeated exposure.43)”Perception is the process by which the sensory register receives and briefly holds environmental stimuli. and deemphasized direct instruction of syntax rules. 43) Alternative Theories of Mental Functioning: “As information is received. and selects input for further processing.”(p. and long-term memory (storage) work together during learning.” (p.45) (Diaz-Rico.41) (input/recognition). either as images or sound patterns.” (p.” (p. the brain creates a pattern across the net.
May. (Overview of Second Language Acquisition Theory. The Competition Model by Felix (1985): Children‟s learning process follows a Language-Specific Cognitive System while adults use a Problem Solving System. 2003 . The challenge arises when the two systems compete in an adult who is trying to master a new language. 2. students are then able to apply what they have been studying. These mechanisms allow them to reconstruct rules for the new language as they hear it used. Dulay and Burt‟s Creative Construction Theory (1974): Children learn as they apply „universal innate mechanisms‟. After listening for an extended period of time.Other Universal Grammar Theories 1.
or anger. 2. (Krashen. 3.42) The Monitor Hypothesis: “The mind employs an editor. 2) 5. He thought acquisition outweighed learning when it comes to achieving fluency and he de-emphasize direct instruction of syntax rules. the monitor.”(p.Krashen’s Monitor Model 1. The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis (1981): This idea is similar to Chomsky‟s LAD. and certain grammatical rules of the language tend to be acquired before the others.42) This can only happen if enough wait time is allowed by the instructor 4. The Input Hypothesis: “Learners acquire language by “intaking” and understanding language that is a “little beyond” their current level of competence. embarrassment. These negative emotions can create a kind of filter that blocks the learner‟s ability to process new or difficult words. 1981) (p. May.3) (Overview of Second Language Acquisition Theory. which scans utterances for accuracy in order to make corrections” (p. The Affective Filter Hypothesis: “An individual‟s emotions can directly interfere or assist in the learning of a new language…Speaking out in a new language can result in anxiety.”( p. 2003) . The Natural Order Hypothesis: “Language rules are acquired in a predictable order.
is that language is acquired through predictable and sequential stages of language development. 2003)& (Diaz-Rico.Continuum of Learning *Krashen continued A dominant philosophy shared by many theorists. p. specifically those in the Naturalist Approach.43) . May. • • • • • Stage I: The Silent/Receptive or Preproduction Stage Stage II: The Early Production Stage Stage III: The Speech Emergence Stage Stage IV: The intermediate Language Proficiency Stage Stage V: The Advanced Language Proficiency (Overview of Second Language Acquisition Theory.
(Diaz-Rico.Information Processing Theory in Action: • State the purpose • Short-Term Memory (STM) receives patterns of images and sounds • Enhance STM by playing short-term memory games • Long-Term Memory (LTM) is boosted by using a schema (structure for organizing information or concepts) combined with scripts (which stores a common behavioral sequence).44) . p.
p. size. “The only person at the scene missing was the policeman. soft) Manipulating posture. color. and movements Use of emotion: vivid mental images. gestures. use volume change-up (soft. soft.Ways to Enhance Students’ Perception: Explanation Variation in properties of written or spoken words: intensity.” (Diaz-Rico.44) . or novelty Practices for Teachers Use various colored markers on the board. teach words that have an unusual sound. metaphors Use of incongruity Use accompanying gestures to teach action words. pitch. Use reading material that quickens the pulse. loud.
p. 45) Separating essential from non-essential details and focusing on meaning Adding meaning to new information by connecting new with existing knowledge to increase retrieval cues Placing new information in a structure that serves as a guide for retrieval Learning physical or emotional cues connected with information to enhance retrieval cues Repeated acts of storage and retrieval Adding structure to information to assist recall Using structure to enhance recall rather than rote memory . cues.Ways to Enhance Storage and Retrieval of Information from Long Term Memory: Prioritizing Elaboration Organization Context Repetition. Review Logic. and connected knowledge Reconstruction (Diaz-Rico.
playing games. intrapersonal. self regulation. interpersonal.” (p. Jensen.” (D‟Arcangelo. 47) After relaxed and supportive instruction make connections through what Lozanov calls “elaborations”.Alternative Theories of Mental Functioning: Brain Compatible Learning is a descriptor that encompasses several additional theories. (Diaz-Rico. vocabulary. and grammar are assimilated and learned intuitively. and empathy. Wolfe & Sorgen. logical-mathematical. 1998. • Suggestopedia by Lozanov (1982): “Pronunciation. “It helps to reconceptualize teaching by taking into consideration how the brain learns. Emotional Intelligence by Salovey and Mayer (1990) and popularized Goleman (1998): Made up of five competencies: self awareness. bodily-kinesthetic. musical. p. 1998. spatial. social skills. and natural) when used help to lower affective filters. motivation. 47) . singing songs. and having conversations. 1990) • • Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner (1983): There are eight different intelligences (linguistic. These are things like reading dialogues.
no one “best” way. •Culture is irrelevant. •Learning is a motivator. •Teacher teaches his/her way. •Reward is motivator. Cognitivist •The mind is an active organizer •Brains vary. with multiple intelligences and learning styles •Students participate in planning and goal setting. •Product and process are important.Behaviorist vs. •Students are taught “what” and “how”. Goal Setting: Motivation: Teaching Styles: Content of Curriculum: Assessment: who does it? Assessment: what is evaluated? Role of Culture: •Teacher plans and sets goals. •Students are taught “what”. •Product is important. •Culture is the basis for social interaction patterns: learning results from social interaction. (Diaz-Rico. •Teacher teaches with variety. Cognitivist Component of Learning Belief about the mind: Behaviorist •The mind is a blank slate. •All minds are basically alike.49) . •Students are actively involved in peer and self-assessment. one “best” way. p. •Teacher assesses.
51) Motivation (Diaz-Rico. and proactive attitudes help language acquisition take place. Emotions to foster: Self-Esteem Risk-Taking Empathy Emotions to defuse: Anxiety Inhibition Poor learning attitude “Positive emotional factors such as self-esteem. this time.Humanistic Approach Here we see theories of language acquisition evolve once again. 51-57) . motivation. p. to combine cognitive and affective learning philosophies.” (p.
(Diaz-Rico. • Energize students by giving them a chance to be physically active. • Vary assignments over different modes of language learning. Give students in competitive tasks a reasonable chance to succeed. p.Implementation of the Humanistic Approach Ways to Reduce Student Anxiety: (Adapted from Woolfolk. 55) . • Teach skills explicitly and provide study guides. Avoid making anxious students perform in front of large groups. 2007) • • • • Monitor activities to reduce undue pressure. Give examples or models of how the task is done when starting a new type of task.
This model is interactive. metarational thinking. and creation of meaning) . instructors create “mindful and “cultureful” learning”. Using this as our foundation. our students will construct new meanings. In addition to adding cooperative and engaging activities. (p. intercultural positioning.Postmodern Techniques of Knowledge This is the latest incarnation of Language Acquisition Theory! There are four different components that make up the postmodern techniques of knowledge acquisition (constructivism.65) The primary language and culture of our students will become imbedded in our instruction to engage learners and facilitate their acquisition of new knowledge. connections. p. and applications for their learning! (Diaz-Rico.65) .
The Path of Inter-Cultural Educators! Learner Strategies Strategies influenced by institution Strategies influenced by socio-cultural context .
Time to Process Now. please turn to your neighbor and share… • any ah-ha‟s that may have occurred to you • which approach do you find you have leaned toward most? • what processing strategies are you most likely to implement? • How can you create real world situations to create the need for your students to actively communicate? .
a mosaic reminiscent of the many cultures we see in our classrooms. By empowering our second language learners with language and pride and ownership of their primary culture we are truly becoming a global community. . And finally. These methodologies were many and varied.. Jenson‟s arguments in favor of emotional intelligence are validated by the humanist approach. but all students. creating a wealth of strategies to teach not just ESL students. We have definitely left the behaviorist techniques in the past in favor of those that include cognition. we step into the 21st century with our Postmodern Techniques of Knowledge. May we all be lucky enough to be nurtured by those who build us up and believe in us.Reflection Looking back over the different theories it becomes abundantly clear that our current practices are a composite.
(Second Ed. Technology and teaching english language learners. (n.J. Inc. L.org/secondlang. from Web site: http://spider.html Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.d.org/request/2003may/overview.edu/Education/documents/District%20Guidelines/E SL%20Theories. Inc. 2008. K.).htm Overview of second language acquisition theory (2003). Retrieved May 17th. Retrieved October 11.(2008).2008. Diaz-Rico.(2003). Retrieved May 17th.) Boston: Pearson Education. Boston: Pearson Education.Second language acquisition theories: Overview and evaluation.pdf • • • Greenberg.nwrel. Gitsaki.org/s_tesol/secess.georgetowncollege. M.(2004). C. from Web site: http://www. & Wiburg. Language acquisition. (2004).tesol.References: • • • Butler-Pascoe. 2008. Standards and other initiatives. Strategies for teaching english learners. 2004.asp?CID=86&DID=1556 . L. Retrieved May 17th . from Web Site: http://www. from Web site: http://earthenrenewal.
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