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Task 3.1
Understanding the Stages of Second Language Acquisition and Applying Them Effectively
Jossette E. Taveras Igaravdez
Ana G. Mndez University Systems

ESOL Materials and Curriculum Development EDUC 553

Doctor Enid Rentas
September 6, 2015

Understanding the Stages of Second Language Acquisition and Applying Them Effectively

Based on the assumption that we all have a first language, Krashen developed the five
stages of second language acquisition which start from a pre-production phase up to advanced
fluency stage. These stages move along a timeline and it is well known that learners have to pass
through every stage in order to move on the next (Yang, 2008). It is significant that learners have
a first language to rely on in order to be able to relate new vocabulary to their mother tongue.
Mainstream teachers have to understand these stages in order to efficiently attend students
linguistically and culturally (Hong, 2008, para. 2). These stages of language acquisition
involve great complexity and therefore the teachers have to be trained to be able to understand it
and apply it. Nevertheless, there are some of the stages, theories and strategies that can be
quickly understood and applied in the classroom (Hong, 2008, para. 2).
Teachers have to consider assessing their students level through a diagnostic test in order
to make the proper adaptations on their teaching to be able to respect the stages learners are at
and encourage them to move on to the next one. They may also consider doing classroom
observations which will contribute to assessing the students needs.
When it comes to directly tackle the diversity the teacher may encounter within the
classroom, there are a variety of strategies that work for ELLs on all stages:
1. Scaffolding instruction (Robertson and Ford, 2008, para.19) - scaffolding helps
students build knowledge and move to other levels when they feel ready. This is
when the teacher may ask yes/no questions, where, when, how, what and why. These
questions require short answers and are not intimidating to the students. This strategy
may also rely on the use of images and manipulatives for support. During this process
the teacher may also use inference and give simple exercises that may be

Understanding the Stages of Second Language Acquisition and Applying Them Effectively

accompanied by visual aids and scaffold into inferring from just the visuals to
inferring from excerpts from a particular text.
2. Cognates (Robertson, 2008, para.20) teachers can provide students with a list of
common cognates and mention them to the students so they start familiarizing with
them. My daughter is always fascinated when she discovers words that sound alike in
Spanish and in English, the same happens to the second graders when I read them a
story that is in both languages (English and Spanish). Some examples I have used are
radio, television and internet, which are pronounced similarly and have the same
meaning in both languages. Sometimes they ask for a word in English that translates
their Spanish word and faces light up when they learn words may sound alike and
sometimes are written the same way.
3. Activating prior knowledge (ESL strategies, (n.d.) learning is improved when
students relate what they are learning to something they already know. An example
could be a lesson for the lower grades on the things they may found in the kitchen.
They may be aided with an image and work in pairs or groups, which is very helpful.
4. Cooperative groups students need guided group work and this is a great way to do
it. The teacher has to assign each member of the group a position (i.e. speaker, writer
or researcher) this way they attain to their task and fulfill the content and language
objectives without hesitating. They also find support from their peers.
5. The use of visuals, in general, as it has been mentioned before is an excellent help.
Examples of these aids are: Maps, semantic webs and organizational charts. They
provide the learners with clear ways of organizing the material discussed, in a
summarized and comprehensible manner.
These are just a few of the strategies a teacher may use to keep the students engaged and
motivated. Nevertheless, it is essential to mention that the attitude, cheerfulness, knowledge and

Understanding the Stages of Second Language Acquisition and Applying Them Effectively

receptiveness of the teacher are essential characteristics to ensure the progress of the learners. It
the teacher sabotages motivation, students will withdraw and fail to thrive in the acquisition of
the new language.
Finally, when a teacher has a large classroom these processes seem impossible and hard
to achieve. My suggestion is that the teacher implements approaches and strategies gradually. It
takes time to understand the approach and to know each student, as well. Therefore,
organizational skills are at hand because they will definitely will be used in order to maintain
some kind of sanity.

Understanding the Stages of Second Language Acquisition and Applying Them Effectively
ESL strategies. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Hong, Y. (2008). On teaching strategies in second language acquisition. Retrieved from
Robertson, K., & Ford, K. (2008). Language acquisition: An overview. Retrieved from