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LANGUAGE LEARNING

I. Introduction
There is an important distinction made by linguists between language acquisition
and language learning. Children acquire language through a subconscious process
during which they are unaware of grammatical rules. This is similar to the way
they acquire their first language. They get a feel for what is and what isn’t correct.
In order to acquire language, the learner needs a source of natural communication.
The emphasis is on the text of the communication and not on the form. Young
students who are in the process of acquiring English get plenty of “on the job”
practice. They readily acquire the language to communicate with classmates.
Language learning, on the other hand, is not communicative. It is the result of
direct instruction in the rules of language. And it certainly is not an age-
appropriate activity for your young learners. In language learning, students have
conscious knowledge of the new language and can talk about that knowledge.
They can fill in the blanks on a grammar page. Research has shown, however, that
knowing grammar rules does not necessarily result in good speaking or writing. A
student who has memorized the rules of the language may be able to succeed on a
standardized test of English language but may not be able to speak or write
correctly.
Learning is a conscious activity. It’s what we do when we look a word up in the
dictionary. It’s also what happens when we learn rules about how language works
or purposefully study lists of vocabulary and grammar forms. There are certain
intervals which make learning new material more efficient and first meeting a
word in context can provide higher retention rates for learned material over time.
II. Discussion
1. Theories of Language Learning
1.1 Behaviorist Theories (include The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis)
Basic Tenets
o Based on Skinner
o The idea that animal and human learning are similar based on
Darwin’s theory.
o All behavior is a response to stimuli.
o No innate pre-programming for language learning at birth (Hadley
2001, pg. 57)
o Learning can also occur through imitation.
o Corrective feedback to correct bad habits
o Language is learned just as another behavior
Critique
o Chomsky criticized this theory.
o Does not explain the creativity of children in generating language. i.e how
can kids overcome grammatical errors without their parents’ correction?

Behaviorist Theory on Language Learning and Acquisition


There are some basic theories advanced to describe how language is acquired,
learnt and taught. The behaviorist theory, Mentalist theory (Innatism), Rationalist
theory (otherwise called Cognitive theory), and Interactionism are some of these
theories.

Of these, behaviorist theory and mentalist theory are mainly applicable to the
acquisition of native languages while the rest can account for foreign language
acquisition. Yet, these four fundamental theories of language acquisition cannot
be totally divorced from each other, for "the objectives of second language
learning are not necessarily entirely determined by native language competence
inevitably serves as a foil against which to set second language learning." (H.H.
Stem, .1983; 30).

Mother Tongue and Foreign Language Learning

These five basic theories are, furthermore, very much complementary to each
other, serving different types of learners or representing various cases of language
learning. They must not automatically make us presume that first and second
language learning are identical or alike processes, though second language
learning is strongly tied up with first language acquisition. Obviously, native
language growth must pave the way for foreign language growth. Then these five
basic language learning theories are fundamental pillars of language learning
whose relevance to education is undeniable.

The Principle of the Behaviorist Theory


The behaviorist theory believes that “infants learn oral language from other
human role models through a process involving imitation, rewards, and practice.
Human role models in an infant’s environment provide the stimuli and rewards,”
(Cooter & Reutzel, 2004). When a child attempts oral language or imitates the
sounds or speech patterns they are usually praised and given affection for their
efforts. Thus, praise and affection becomes the rewards. However, the behaviorist
theory is scrutinized for a variety of reasons. If rewards play such a vital
component in language development, what about the parent who is inattentive or
not present when the child attempts speech? If a baby’s language learning is
motivated strictly by rewards would the speech attempts stop merely for lack of
rewards (Cooter & Reutzel, 2004)? Other cases against this theory include
“learning the use and meaning of abstract words, evidence of novel forms of
language not modeled by others, and uniformity of language acquisition in
humans” (Cooter & Reutzel, 2004).

The major principle of the behaviorist theory rests on the analyses of human
behavior in observable stimulus-response interaction and the association between
them. E.L.T. Thorndike was the first behaviorist to explore the area that learning
is the establishment of associations on particular process of behavior and
consequences of that behavior. Basically, "the behaviorist theory of stimulus-
response learning, particularly as developed in the operant conditioning model of
Skinner, considers all learning to be the establishment of habits as a result of
reinforcement and reward" (Wilga Rivers, 1968, 73). This is very reminiscent of
Pavlov's experiment which indicates that stimulus and response work together.
According to this category, the babies obtain native language habits via varied
babblings which resemble the appropriate words repeated by a person or object
near him. Since for his babblings and mutterings he is rewarded, this very reward
reinforces further articulations of the same sort into grouping of syllables and
words in a similar situation. In this way, he goes on emitting sounds, groups of
sounds, and as he grows up he combines the sentences via generalizations and
analogy (as in *goed for went, *doed, for did, so on), which in some complicated
cases, condition him to commit errors by articulating in permissible structures in
speech. By the age of five or six, or babblings and mutterings grow into socialized
speech but little by little they are internalized as implicit speech, and thus many of
their utterances become indistinguishable from the adults. This, then, obviously,
means that behaviorist theory is a theory of stimulus-response psychology.

"Through a trial-and-error process, in which acceptable utterances are reinforced


by comprehension and approval, and unacceptable utterances are inhibited by the
lack of reward, he gradually learns to make finer and finer discriminations until
his utterances approximate more and more closely the speech of the community in
which he is growing up (Wilga M. Rivers, 1968; 73). To put it in other words,
children develop a natural affinity to learn the language of their social
surroundings whose importance both over language learning and teaching must
never be underestimated. In this respect behaviorist theory stresses the fact that
"human and animal learning is a process of habit formation. A highly complex
learning task, according to this theory may be learned by being broken' down into
small habits. These are formed correct or incorrect responses, are rewarded or,
punished, respectively'.(Hubbard Jones and Thornton Wheeler, 1983; 326). Thus
it is clear that the acquisition of learning in infancy is governed the acquisition of
other habits.

Counterarguments on Behaviorist Theory of Language Learning


Needless to say, language teaching anticipates certain theories on language
learning because language learning as a fruitful area that embodies the working of
human behavior and mental processes of the learners. Each theory may not be
complete model for the investigation of language learning. The following counter-
arguments can be made upon the working principles of behaviorist theory:
1) Basic strategies of language learning within the scope of behaviorist theory are
imitation, reinforcement, and rewarding. However, researches made on the
acquisition of learning have demonstrated that children’s imitation of structures
show evidence of almost no innovation; moreover children "vary considerably in
the amount that they imitate" (L.M. Bloom, L. Hood, and P.L. Lightbown, 1974;
380-420). Since children do not imitate such structures like words, phrases,
clauses and sentences at the same rate they will naturally learn at different rates
even though it must be admitted that imitation is very useful in the acquisition of
new vocabulary items. As for reinforcement, "Unfortunately this view of learning
receives little support from the available evidence" (Herbert H. Clark and Eve V.
Clark, 1977; 336), for the parents only correct the sample structures, and complex
structures are occasionally corrected.

2) In behaviorist theory, the process of learning relies more on generalization,


rewarding, conditioning, three of which support the development of analogical
learning in children. But it can be argued that a process of learning or teaching
that encourages the learner to construct phrases, clauses and sentences modeled on
previously settled set of rules and drills is thought to obstruct the instinctive
production of language. Then, habit formation exercises may not naturally
promote intrinsically oriented language learning.

3) Obstructions made on instinctively-based learning will doubtedlessly harm the


creative way of learning. It takes a long time to be capable enough to master a
language at least a bit intrinsically. There is a threshold level in language learning.
This means that learners must learn consciously supported by repetition and
drilling to build up an effective linguistic intuition, acquisition of which marks the
establishment of threshold level. Before obtaining the threshold level, the
language learner is not creative, cannot use the language properly in new
situations in a real sense. it is, then, obvious that the intrinsic learning will be
delayed, owing to the Iate acquisition of threshold level because of previously
settled set of rules and drills.
4) The rate of social influence on learning is not satisfactorily explained. To what
extent and rate, does the social surrounding promote language learning? This
question remains unexplained.

5) It is highly unlikely for learning to be the same for each individual; that is, each
person cannot learn equally well in the same conditions in which learning takes
place, for the background and the experience of the learners make everybody learn
differently. In addition, according to Chomsky, there must be some innate
capacities which human beings possess that predispose them to look for basic
patters in language.

6) The main strategies of the behaviorist theory can only be true for the early
stages of learning which takes place when the kids are in infancy and in early
childhood periods. Moreover, this theory is fruitful for the most part on animal
experimentation and learning.

7) Many of the learning processes are mostly too complex, and for this reason
there are intervening variable s, which cannot be observed between stimulus and
response. "That's why, language acquisition cannot take place through habit
formation, since language learners are thrown between stimulus and response
chain, for language is too far complicated to be learned in such a matter,
especially given the brief time available.

1.2 Universal Grammar Theory


Basic Tenets
o A mentalist viewpoint related to nativism and cognitive theory.
o The idea that of Chomsky that all children are born with Language
Acquisition Device (Hadley 2001 pg 58).
o Language learning depends on biological mechanisms.
o Children are innately programmed to learn language.
o Each language has its own “parameter settings”.
o The principles that children discover represent their “core grammar” which
relates to general principles that correspond to all languages.
o All human brain contains language universals that direct language
acquisition ( Horwitz 2008)
o It can be tested
Critique
o Is based on first language learning so it may not apply to second language
acquisition.
o The way adults and children learn is different.
o Does not consider social factors or individual differences that affect
language learning. .
o Motivation and attitudes towards the target language does not come into
play in this theory.
o It is very Complex
o Only looks at product data

Chomsky’s Universal Grammar


During the first half of the 20th century, linguists who theorized about the human
ability to speak did so from the behaviourist perspective that prevailed at that
time. They therefore held that language learning, like any other kind of learning,
could be explained by a succession of trials, errors, and rewards for success. In
other words, children learned their mother tongue by simple imitation, listening to
and repeating what adults said.
This view became radically questioned, however, by the American linguist Noam
Chomsky. For Chomsky, acquiring language cannot be reduced to simply
developing an inventory of responses to stimuli, because every sentence that
anyone produces can be a totally new combination of words. When we speak, we
combine a finite number of elements—the words of our language—to create an
infinite number of larger structures—sentences.
Moreover, language is governed by a large number of rules and principles,
particularly those of syntax, which determine the order of words in sentences. The
term “generative grammar”refers to the set of rules that enables us to understand
sentences but of which we are usually totally unaware. It is because of generative
grammar that everyone says “that’s how you say it” rather than “how that’s you it
say”, or that the words “Bob”and “him” cannot mean the same person in the
sentence “Bob loves him.” but can do so in “Bob knows that his father loves
him.” (Note in passing that generative grammar has nothing to do with grammar
textbooks, whose purpose is simply to explain what is grammatically correct and
incorrect in a given language.)
Even before the age of 5, children can, without having had any formal instruction,
consistently produce and interpret sentences that they have never encountered
before. It is this extraordinary ability to use language despite having had only
very partial exposure to the allowable syntactic variants that led Chomsky to
formulate his “poverty of the stimulus” argument, which was the foundation for
the new approach that he proposed in the early 1960s.
In Chomsky’s view, the reason that children so easily master the complex
operations of language is that they have innate knowledge of certain principles
that guide them in developing the grammar of their language. In other words,
Chomsky’s theory is that language learning is facilitated by a predisposition that
our brains have for certain structures of language.
But what language? For Chomsky’s theory to hold true, all of the languages in the
world must share certain structural properties. And indeed, Chomsky and other
generative linguists like him have shown that the 5000 to 6000 languages in the
world, despite their very different grammars, do share a set of syntactic rules and
principles. These linguists believe that this “universal grammar” is innate and is
embedded somewhere in the neuronal circuitry of the human brain. And that
would be why children can select, from all the sentences that come to their minds,
only those that conform to a “deep structure” encoded in the brain’s circuits.

Observations that support the Chomskyian view of language


Until Chomsky propounded his theory of universal grammar in the 1960s, the
empiricist school that had dominated thinking about language since the
Enlightenment held that when children came into the world, their minds were like
a blank slate. Chomsky’s theory had the impact of a large rock thrown into this
previously tranquil, undisturbed pond of empiricism.
Subsequent research in the cognitive sciences, which combined the tools of
psychology, linguistics, computer science, and philosophy, soon lent further
support to the theory of universal grammar. For example, researchers found that
babies only a few days old could distinguish the phonemes of any language and
seemed to have an innate mechanism for processing the sounds of the human
voice.
Thus, from birth, children would appear to have certain linguistic abilities that
predispose them not only to acquire a complex language, but even to create one
from whole cloth if the situation requires. One example of such a situation dates
back to the time of plantations and slavery. On many plantations, the slaves came
from many different places and so had different mother tongues. They therefore
developed what are known as pidgin languages to communicate with one another.
Pidgin languages are not languages in the true sense, because they employ words
so chaotically—there is tremendous variation in word order, and very little
grammar. But these slaves’ children, though exposed to these pidgins at the age
when children normally acquire their first language, were not content to merely
imitate them. Instead, the children spontaneously introduced grammatical
complexity into their speech, thus in the space of one generation creating new
languages, known as creoles.

1.3 Krashen’s Monitor Theory


Basic Tenets
o Adults have two ways of developing competence in the second language:
acquisition (subconscious learning) and learning (conscious learning).
o The natural order hypothesis: acquisition of grammatical structures follow
a predicable order when is natural (Hadley 2001).
o The monitor Hypothesis: Acquisition is responsible for all second
language utterances and fluency. On the contrary, learning is the “editor” and
“monitor” for the output (Hadley 2001).
o The input hypothesis: speaking fluency emerges over time. Acquisition on
language will happen when we are exposed to the language that is beyond our
level.
o Effective filter hypothesis: low effective filter contributes to good
learning.
o Error correction should be minimized and only use when the goal is
learning.
o Students should not be required to produce speech until they’ re ready.
Critique
o There is a debate between the distinction of learning and acquisition.
Krashen’s claim cannot be tested.
o Munsell and Cart (1981) criticized the implication of this theory that language
learning is distinct from other types of learning (Hadley 2001).
o There are not clear definitions for some of the terms implemented by Krashen
such as “comprehensible input” and acquisition vs. learning.
o Krashen does not explain how effective filters develops and does not take
individual differences into account.

Stephen Krashen is an educator and linguist who proposed the Monitor Model as
his theory of second language acquisition in his influential text Principles and
practice in second language acquisition in 1982. The Monitor Model posits five
hypotheses about second language acquisition and learning:
1. Acquisition-learning hypothesis
2. Natural order hypothesis
3. Monitor hypothesis
4. Input hypothesis
5. Affective filter hypothesis
However, despite the popularity and influence of the Monitor Model, the five
hypotheses are not without criticism. The following sections offer a description of
the third hypothesis of the theory, the monitor hypothesis, as well as the major
criticism by other linguistics and educators surrounding the hypothesis.
Definition of the Monitor Hypothesis
The third hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, complements the acquisition-
learning hypothesis by claiming that the only function of learning within second
language acquisition is as an editor, or Monitor, for language use produced by the
acquired system as well as to produce grammatical forms not yet acquired. The
Monitor allows a language user to alter the form of an utterance either prior to
production by consciously applying learned rules or after production via self-
correction. In other words, the learned system monitors the output of the acquired
system.
However, according to the monitor hypothesis, explicit knowledge of a language
rule is not sufficient for the utilization of the Monitor; a language user must also
have an adequate amount of time to consciously think about and apply learned
rules. Additionally, the three conditions required by the Monitor—time, focus,
and knowledge—are, as Krashen asserts, “necessary and not sufficient,” meaning
that, despite the convenement of all three conditions, a language user may not
utilize the Monitor.
Criticism of the Monitor Hypothesis
The major critique of the monitor hypothesis expands on the critique of the
acquisition-learning hypothesis. According to the monitor hypothesis, the main
purpose of language learning is to function as a Monitor for output produced by
acquired system. However, as critics reveal through deeper investigation of the
acquisition-learning distinction, to separate language learning clearly and
adequately from language acquisition is impossible. Consequently, determining
that the function of the learned system is as a Monitor only remains likewise
impossible to prove.
Additionally, that the claim of learning-as-Monitor applies only to output after
production invites further criticism of the hypothesis; second language learners
can and do use the learned system to produce output as well as to facilitate
comprehension. Such questions and evidence, therefore, invalidate the central
claim of the monitor hypothesis.
Therefore, in spite of the influence of the Monitor Model in the field of second
language acquisition, the third hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, has not been
without criticism as evidenced by the critiques offered by other linguists and
educators in the field.
1.4 Cognitive Theory
(Ausubel, McLaughlin, Bialystok, Ellis, Anderson, and others)
Basic tenets
o Based on internal and mental processes.
o Focuses on transferring, simplification, generalization, and restructuring
that involve second language acquisition.
o Language learning is the result from internal mental activity.
o Emphasizes that knowledge and new learning is organized in a mental
structure.
o Learner acts, constructs, and plans its own learning
o Analyzes own learning
o Positive and negative feedback is important for restructuring.
o Proficiency develops trough practice and then it becomes automatic.
o Once new information it’s acquired, existed knowledge is reorganized.
o Ausubel emphasizes that learning language needs to be meaningful in
order to be effective and permanent (Hadley 2001, pg 69).
Critique
o Needs more clarification when referring to complex cognitive skill.
o Does not explain when and how some features of the first language are
transfer to the second language and why some don’t transfer.

Sometimes, when someone calls us, we immediately hear it. Then, we give the
response from his or her calling. From the phenomenon, unconsciously there is a
process happens in our brain or thought. The process is called cognitive theories
or cognitivism. According to Mergel (1998) cognitivism is a process based on the
thought process behind the behavior. Changes in behavior are observed, and used
as to what is happening inside the learner’s mind. Cognitive theories emphasize
the children conscious thought (Hebb, 2003:3). From the two definitions, it can be
inferred that a process can be called cognitivism if a process happens in conscious
thought(inside the learner’s mind).
Principles of Cognitivism
Cognitivism involves the study of mental processes such as sensation,
perception, attention, encoding, and memory that behaviorists were reluctant to
study because cognition occurs inside the” black box” of the brain (Jordan,
Carlite & Stack, 2008:36). In this case, sensation perception, attention, encoding,
and memory are the principle of cognitivism. The followings are the explanation
of them.
The first principle is sensation. It shows how the stimuli derived from external
stimuli is registered in sensory before it being sent to the following process. The
second principle is perception which shows as the process to interpret and make
sense something which can be seen through our sense. It consists of pattern
recognition, object recognition, bottom up or top down processing, and conscious
perception. The third principle is attention which stresses in the concentrating to
one thing, that the most importance than the others. It is important to determine
the conscious awareness. The fourth principle is encoding as the principle of
cognitive theory focuses on the importance of encoding information, after
something being perceived and attended to stimuli. The way to encode the
information can be done through organizing and then form it in the form of
schema. In this case, to encode the information in the form of experience can be
conducted through two ways. They are bottom up and top down (Jordan, Carlite,
& Stack 2008:43). Bottom up is the way to encode experience by transferring the
information that is gained through the external world. It is mediated through
attention and perception. While top down is another way to encode experience. It
is in the form of action prior knowledge in order to help in interpreting the bottom
up. The fifth principle is memory. Memory is the ability to keep and remind the
information in our mind. It consists of short term memory, long term memory, and
sensory.
Short term memory consists of limited amount of data and short duration. It is
also known as the working memory because it consists of some functions. They
are rehearsal (repetition), coding, decision making, and retrieval. The information
that can be maintained approximately 5-9 bits. According to Vinci (2000: 18) long
term memory can hold a huge amount of information-facts , data, and rules for
how to use and process them and the information can be maintained for long
period. It means that long term memory consists of very large amount of data and
very long duration. The way to keep the information can be maintained in this
type of memory is by using cues.

The Educational Implication of Cognitive Theories


According to Suharno (2010:60) the cognitive view takes the learner to be an
active processor of information. It means that the cognitive theory tries to create
the people to be active to think. The implication of cognitive theories in
educational field is try to produce the students to find the problem solving.do
discovery learning, cognitive strategies, and project based learning.
Problem Based Learning
The application of the learning is try the students to find the solution of the
problem. For example the student conducts a research. It means that he or she
must find the solution to solve the problems of his or her research that consists of
identifies the problem, collects and analyzes the data, draws the conclusion. The
strength of problem based learning are it focuses on the meaningfulness not the
facts, it can improve the students’ initiative, it can improve the students’ learning
achievement etc.

Discovery Learning
Discovery learning is one of the applications of cognitivism . According to
O’Donnell(1997) “Discovery Learning is an instructional method in which the
students are free to work in learning environment with little or no guidance”. This
assumption from O’Donnell is also supported by Ryan & Muray (2009) who
assume that discovery learning is problem based learning with minimal guidance”.
It means that through discovery learning the teacher gives opportunity to students
to explore their selves by learning through the environment with little guidance
from the teacher. There are some structures that must be paid attention in applying
discovery learning. They are readiness to learn, intuitive and analytical thinking,
motivates for learning. These structures must be moved from basic to advanced
step.
1.5 Conversation Theories
Basic Tenets
o The idea of learning a second language by participating in conversations
o Importance use of scaffolding
o Gives feedback and suggest ways of improvement
o Does not require production of full sentences but encourages speaking
o Errors should be corrected
Critique
o Does not focus on teaching grammar

Conversation Theory (Gordon Pask)


The Conversation Theory developed by G. Pask originated from a cybernetics
framework and attempts to explain learning in both living organisms and
machines. The fundamental idea of the theory was that learning occurs through
conversations about a subject matter which serve to make knowledge explicit.
Conversations can be conducted at a number of different levels: natural language
(general discussion), object languages (for discussing the subject matter), and
metalanguages (for talking about learning/language).
In order to facilitate learning, Pask argued that subject matter should be
represented in the form of entailment structures which show what is to be learned.
Entailment structures exist in a variety of different levels depending upon the
extent of relationships displayed (e.g., super/subordinate concepts, analogies).
The critical method of learning according to conversation theory is "teachback" in
which one person teaches another what they have learned. Pask identified two
different types of learning strategies: serialists who progress through an
entailment structure in a sequential fashion and holists who look for higher order
relations.
Application
Conversation theory applies to the learning of any subject matter. Pask (1975)
provides an extensive discussion of the theory applied to the learning of statistics
(probability).
Example
Pask discusses the application of conversation theory to a medical diagnosis task
(diseases of the thyroid). In this case, the entailment structure represents
relationships between pathological conditions of the thyroid and treatment/tests.
The student is encouraged to learn these relationships by changing the parameter
values of a variable (e.g., iodine intake level) and investigating the effects.
Principles
1. To learn a subject matter, students must learn the relationships among the
concepts.
2. Explicit explanation or manipulation of the subject matter facilitates
understanding (e.g., use of teach back technique).
3. Individual's differ in their preferred manner of learning relationships
(serialists versus holists).

1.6 Schumann’s Acculturation Theory


Basic Tenets
o Based on a Social Theory
o Focuses on the multiple perspective of the learner
o Learning a language to function in the target language culture.
o Examines how social forces affect language learning.
o Attitudes and stereotypes towards the target language affect learning.
o Lower social and psychological distance will lead to successful learning
o Errors can be corrected for better acculturation
o There are external factors that affect language acquisition
Critique
o Does not focus on teaching specific grammar

Schumann’s Acculturation Model Explained


Schumann’s (1978) research argues that social and psychological distance
between the second language learner and the target language community is a
major factor in determining the degree to which the language learner will acquire
the target language without the development of pidginization. The simplified form
of speech characterized in a pidgin language, according to Schumann, “shows that
social and psychological distance exists and the speech of the second language
learner is restricted to the communicative function” (Schumann, 1978 p. 76). The
model proposed by Schumann includes the following eight social variables which
affect the quality of contact that second language learners have with the target
language community (simplified from Schumann, 1978):
1) Social dominance: When the English Language Learning (ELL) group is
politically, culturally, technically, or economically superior to the target
language (TL) group, then it will tend not to learn the target language. On
the other hand, if the ELL group is inferior to the TL group, they may
resist learning the target language.
2) Assimilation, preservation, and adaptation: If the ELL group chooses
assimilation as the integration strategy, it gives up its own lifestyle and
values and adopts those of the TL group. Similarly, preservation means
that the ELL group maintains its own lifestyle and values and rejects those
of the TL group. Adaptation means that the ELL group adapts to the
lifestyle and values of the TL group, but maintains its own lifestyle and
values for intragroup use.
3) Enclosure: Enclosure refers to the degree to which the ELL group and TL
group share the same social constructs such as schools, churches, clubs,
recreational facilities, crafts, professions, and trades. If the two groups
share these social constructs, enclosure is said to be low, and the L2
acquisition is facilitated.
4) Cohesiveness: If the ELL group is cohesive, it will tend to remain separate
from the TL group.
5) Size: If the ELL group is large, the intragroup contact will be more
frequent than contact with the TL group.
6) Congruence: If the two cultures are similar, social contact is potentially
more likely and L2 learning is more easily facilitated.
7) Attitude: If the ELL and TL groups have positive attitudes toward each
other, L2 learning is more easily facilitated.
8) Intended length of residence: The longer an L2 learner plans to remain in
the TL environment, the more likely it is that they will feel the need to
learn the target language.
There are also four affective variables included in Schumann's acculturation
model, they are:
1. Language shock, or the degree to which speaking the new language makes
the learner feel foolish or comical;
2. Culture shock, the extent to which the learner feels disoriented and
uncomfortable with extended residence in a new culture;
3. Ego permeability, the ability of the learner to accept a new identity
associated with the belonging to a new speech community, and
4. Motivation, the degree and type of desire experienced by the learner to
acquire the L2. Of these, only motivation seemed particularly applicable to the
situation involved in

Criticisms of Schumann’s Model


There are many criticisms on the acculturation model, including
Schumann’s work beginning with its formal incompleteness. First, Freeman &
Long (1991) state that Schumann did not specify the combinations and/or levels
of social and psychological factors to predict language outcome. Various social
and psychological factors can be used to account for learner’s acquisition, and it is
impossible to determine what is the most significant one of these factors or the
degree to which one factor contributes to the acquisition. Also, Schumann did not
explain how these factors affect the rate of attainment. (Freeman & Long, 1991 p.
264) Next, Schumann did not account for the change of the social or
psychological distance over time (Freeman & Long 1991, Baker 2001). One
important difference in the comparison of the Acculturation Model and Giles and
Byrne’s Accommodation Model is that Giles and Byrne (1982) point out that the
relationships between the two groups are constantly changing (Baker, 2001).
Naturally distance changes as a learner acquires the target language. The current
social and psychological distance while the learner acquires the language and how
it correlates to the learners’ proficiency is not taken into account in Schumann’s
model.
Furthermore, the model does not show how these social and psychological
factors vary from individual to individual. Freeman and Long (1991) pointed out
that the model is unable to be tested because no reliable and valid measures of
social and psychological distance exist. Some researchers like Stauble (1978) and
Kitch (1982) found rough correlation between psychological distance and ESL
proficiency, others like Kelley (1982) and Stauble (1981) found no relationship
between acculturation and proficiency (Freeman & Long, 1991). Researchers
have concluded that individuals go through the stages of adjustment in another
culture at different rates and can ultimately combine elements of the psychological
distance variables. Schumann does not include important personal factors such as
age, family separation, previous educational experiences, or the traumatic
experiences of the refugee. These additional stress factors can determine how well
a student performs in a new school environment. “The extent to which the ‘host’
society and its institutions are responsive to the needs of recently arrived
immigrants, and the effects of other stress factors that may exist, will have an
effect on the adjustment and acculturation process” (Coelho, 1998 p.31).
We may conclude that this model serves only as a rough outline of the
relationship between social and psychological variables in second language
acquisition.
Graham and Brown (1996) researched the reasons why native Spanish
speakers in a small town in northern Mexico developed native-like proficiency in
English. A sample of the Spanish-speaking population was asked questions
related to Schumann’s acculturation variables. They concluded that the
proficiency being acquired by native Spanish-speaking was due to three factors:
favorable attitudes toward the English-speaking community, enrollment in a two-
way bilingual program in school, and the development of close friendships with
native English-speaking peers. This high level of achievement in two languages
may not be that unusual in communities where minority language students are
learning the majority language. “The unusual thing about Colonia Juarez is not so
much that the English-speaking minority would be developing high levels of
competence in Spanish, but that the Spanish-speaking majority would be
developing native-like ability in English” (Graham & Brown, 1996 p. 236).
Although Schumann’s acculturation model has been applied mostly to situations
unlike Colonia Juarez, it is exactly this kind of application that may help in
determining the accuracy and efficacy of the model itself. Finally, it helps to
prove the importance of social factors in second language acquisition.

Implications for Teaching


It is important for teachers to understand the backgrounds and attitudes of
all the students they teach. This survey is one way to take a look at their
motivation, attitudes, and rationale for studying English. Researchers have
suggested a strong connection between these social variables and the successful
learning of another language. Teachers can understand some of the factors that
affect their students.
While working at the academy, I hypothesized that the social environment
inhibited English language acquisition. Upon closer examination, this seems to be
true. The students are enclosed in an environment that does not motivate them
enough to speak English. By looking at data results from this survey, or
instruments like it, teachers can evaluate the social conditions in the classroom
and school, evaluate the social conditions in the lives of the students outside of
school, and make professional adjustments to the curriculum. These adjustments
may include special activities for students after school, field trip opportunities,
and home visits. Teachers may also do some community investigation that
provides students with information on opportunities for involvement in local
clubs, groups, or teams.
Additionally, arrangements could be made to bring local professionals into
the classroom to speak to students about their lives in certain careers. By bringing
the community to them, students may become more open and motivated to learn.
This can also be achieved by introducing lessons involving local newspapers.
Cartoons, advertisements, and classifieds provide a rich array of cultural topics
and help to informally lead to language acquisition at the same time. This
supports Schumann’s theory that language is really one aspect of the culture of a
particular ethnic group and that the relationship of that to the learners’ language
community is extremely important. While research continues in the relationship
between socio-psychological distance factors and second language learning, it is
important for educators to be aware of the issues affecting students in different
social environments.
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