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Language Acquisition Principles

Language Acquisition Principles

Phonology, phonetics, morphology, and syntax have been at the center of teaching English as a second language. Language acquisition theory entails all the levels of teaching English language. The language acquisition theories conclude that language can best be acquired through social interactions (Faltis, 2006). Language should not be taught therefore in isolation from the context and content areas since many factors affect how students acquire second language. The factors cannot be easily listed since language is acquired through social interactions.

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A perfect second language acquisition depends highly on the available interactions taking place within the social surrounding. When English is made comprehensible by instructors through the inclusion of instructional and learning techniques, students will have opportunities to develop language easily by being able to practice listening, reading, writing and speaking in context. Additionally, to acquire terminologies embedded in English language, students need to engage in reading, speaking, listening and writing in the content.

There are several factors to consider when one is planning a learning environment and adopting materials for students to access. These factors cannot be applied to any language since they are not static; thus, we cannot say that non-Hispanic students cannot access academic language since they live mostly in Spanish speaking countries. The truth is, there are many Hispanic students who in their life time have had access to educational opportunities in their native language. These students still have academic knowledge in math, sciences, writing and even reading. The concept of their acquisition can easily be transferred to English. On the other hand, other Hispanics know only the education offered to them in the U.S. because they live and study there. Similarly, there are other Hispanics who have not had the opportunity of going through an educational system, and, as such, they are not at grade level with others even in their native language. This has made it difficult for them to translate their native language into English and can only do so with the support of language acquisition and academic learning.

Educators should be familiar with factors affecting second language acquisition. They should be able to apply these factors and guidelines to meet individual students’ needs. Teachers need to understand that they are the ones who can motivate students to learn better (Quinn, 1999). Students will be gifted to learn better and succeed when they are motivated by instructors. A student’s native language proficiency affects second language acquisition; but when they can read and write at grade level, then they may easily acquire second language. This is because of the already developed meta-linguistic skills and literacy (Cummins, 1981).

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Second language development in a learner is a complex issue because it entails several factors such as acquisition of language with respect to the environment. I believe, language acquisition is complex and teachers or any researcher cannot come to conclusion on what really entails the acquisition. Language matures following its own course. Different learners start using second language at different stages of their development. This depends on the readiness of the brain to start storing language heard from the second environment. Despite the involvement of visual and auditory stimuli, the brain still remains the most important aspect. This is because the brain must covert the auditory stimuli and visual stimuli before merging them (Walqui, 2003). Learners will develop this complexity as they develop second language. The environment also affects language development very much. Just like in the summary. A student will develop and will learn to name different things as they appear in the environment.

Since students learn differently, instructors should differentiate instructional materials in order to cater for the differences and allow them to be successful with the new learning (Faltis, 2006). Teachers should understand that learning is not a means to an end and should therefore provide students with the cues to understand the content. They should provide learners with tasks prorated to develop proficiency in English.

Learning is also affected by the quality of instruction since it is the lesson that teachers plan, the academic instruction and the teacher’s method of execution that support student engagement in acquiring second language. They will be able to learn through vocabulary development, comprehensible input, and formative assessment through reading writing and speaking (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2004).

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In developing learning of academic content and acquiring language development, Cummins’ model of academic language should be employed. The model refers to non-specialized social language as basic interpersonal communicational skill (BICS). The skills involve language that can be used in the informal setting such as when playing. On the contrary, specialized formal language requires Bloom’s higher level of taxonomy. The specialized language involves inferring, synthesizing and evaluating. This group is known as cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) (Cummins, 1981). As instructors, we should be able to know that it is not enough for learners to converse in English at BICS or social proficiency in order to acquire the doctrines of second language. They should be given the opportunity to develop CALP and BICS in order to be successful.

Finally, teachers are therefore responsible for helping learners to acquire second language successfully. To be proficient, they need to have a good foundation of the theories in second language acquisition. These theories are empirically measured to support native English speakers who are often considered to be at risk. Teachers need to be guided by factors affecting second language acquisition in order to meet the needs of all learners.

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