Second Language Acquisition
Developed by
Dr. Laurie R. Weaver
Dr. Judith A. Marquez
University of Houston-Clear Lake
Objectives

The participant will be able to

explain expected stages and patterns of
language development as related to first
and second language acquisition.

explain how first language development
affects development of English.
Second Language Acquisition
To Think About:
Think about a baby acquiring his first language.
Think about a person acquiring a second
language.
What similarities and differences are there in the
two processes? Discuss your ideas with a
partner then examine the next four slides.
First and Second
Language Acquisition
Characteristics
constructs language from
prior conceptual knowledge
L1 Learner
L2 Learner
x
x
is an active learner who tests
and revises hypotheses
x
x
requires interaction
x
x
uses cognitive strategies
(i.e., overgeneralization)
x
x
First and Second
Language Acquisition
Characteristics
L1 Learner
L2 Learner
understands more when input
is modified (caretaker talk,
foreigner talk)
x
x
develops language in predictable
stages
x
x
makes developmental errors
x
x
experiences a silent period
x
x
First and Second
Language Acquisition
Characteristics
is usually made cognitively
developed
L1 Learner
L2 Learner
x
generally has a greater knowledge
of the world
x
generally can learn and apply rules
more easily
x
usually has more control over input
x
First and Second
Language Acquisition
Characteristics
L1 Learner
L2 Learner
is familiar with one or more
other cultures
x
may have a problem with
attitude/motivation
x
is more likely to be inhibited or
anxious
x
Adapted from: P. Richard-Amato. (1996). Making it happen: Interaction in the second
language classroom. P.27
Age and
Second Language Acquisition
To Think About:
Is it better to learn a second language when
one is young or when one is older? Why?
Discuss your ideas with a partner.
Age and
Second Language Acquisition
The Critical Period Hypothesis (Eric Lenneberg
(1967)
Lenneberg stated that:
L2 is best learned between age 2 and puberty
Ability to learn language is negatively affected
by the completion of process of lateralization
Age and
Second Language Acquisition

Critical Period Hypothesis

Laterialization is when each side of the brain
develops its own specialized functions

Young learners use the same part of the brain
for learning both languages

Older learners use different parts of the brain
Age and
Second Language Acquisition

Lenneberg stated that



Lateralization is completed by puberty
Therefore, an L2 should be learned between
age 2 and puberty (according to Lenneberg)
More recent research has indicated that
lateralization actually is completed by age
5
Age and
Second Language Acquisition
Therefore, young learners (before age 5) are
actually native speakers of both languages
They learn both L1 and L2 the way a native
speaker does
J. Lessow-Hurley. (2005). The foundations of dual language instruction.
Age and
Second Language Acquisition

Advantages to being a younger learner



More likely to develop a native-like accent
Less to learn to be considered proficient
More likely to receive comprehensible input
Age and
Second Language Acquisition

Advantages to being an older learner



Can consciously use strategies to aid learning
Has knowledge from L1 to draw from
Has greater control over input
Proficiency: What is it?
To Think About:
When is a person proficient in a second language?
How do you know a person is proficient?
Discuss your ideas with a partner.
Proficiency

Proficiency includes grammatical,
sociolinguistic, discourse and strategic
competence

Age appropriate competence in each of
these areas needs to be developed to be
considered proficient in a second language
Proficiency

Grammatical Competence
•
Mastery of language code
Lexicon (vocabulary)
Word formation rules
Sentence formation rules
Pronunciation rules
Spelling
Proficiency

Sociolinguistic Competence
•
Mastery of appropriate language use
in different contexts
•
•
•
How to speak to a friend
How to speak to someone in authority
How to speak socially vs. professionally

Discourse Competence
Mastery of how to combine meanings and forms to
create a text in different modes
Examples:
Telephone inquiry
Narrative text
Oral report
Proficiency

Discourse Competence
Mastery of how to combine meanings and forms
to create a text in different modes
Examples:
Telephone inquiry
Narrative text
Oral report
Proficiency

Strategic Competence
Mastery of verbal and non-verbal strategies to
compensate for breakdowns in communication
Examples:
How to ask for help
How to rephrase a statement
Proficiency: How long does it
take?
To Think About:
If you wanted to learn another language, how
long do you think it would take you to speak
and understand that language?
How long would it take you to read and write?
Discuss your ideas with a partner.
Proficiency: How long does it
take?

BICS ( Basic Interpersonal Communication
Skills)
2 to 3 years
Ability to converse and understand every day
discussions
Proficiency: How long does it
take?

CALP (Cognitive Academic Language
Proficiency)
4 to 10 years
Ability to read, write, speak, and listen at an
academic level
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition

How can you identify a learner’s language
acquisition level?

Discuss with a partner how the language
acquisition level can be determined. In other
words, how do you know if a learner is a
beginner, an intermediate, or advanced
learner of the L2?
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition


Instead of using beginner, intermediate and
advanced, a more specific classification
system can be used.
A learner can be at the preproduction, early
speech, speech emergence or intermediate
fluency stage
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition

Preproduction/Comprehension Stage
Characteristics
Silent period
Can respond non-verbally
Will be able to understand more than they can
produce
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition

Preproduction/Comprehension Stage


The teacher should NOT force the learner to
talk
The teacher should ask the learner to draw,
point, act out, label
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition


Early Speech Production
Characteristics
Can understand more than can produce
Can produce one or two words at a time
Will pick up phrases (He cutted.)
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition

Early Speech Production
 The teacher should ask the learner
yes/no questions
 The teacher should ask the learner
choice questions (Is this a ___ or a
___?)
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition

Speech Emergence
Characteristics
Speaks in phrases
Makes lots of errors
Interlanguage occurs (a mixture of
vocabulary and structures from both
languages)
Stages in Second
Language Acquisition

Speech Emergence

The teacher should ask the learner questions
such as What is this? What does ___ do?
Stages of Second
Language Acquisition


Intermediate Fluency
Characteristics
Appear orally fluent
Errors are same errors native speakers make
Struggle with content area reading and
writing.
Stages of Second
Language Acquisition

Intermediate Fluency

The teacher should modify higher level
questions. For example, instead of asking a
student to compare two items, the teacher
should ask the student how two items are the
same. Then the teacher should ask how they
are different.
Stages of Second
Language Acquisition

Select a topic that you teach (for example,
fairy tales, plant life, animals, etc.). Then,
think of how you would involve a learner
at each language proficiency level in the
lesson. For example, you might think of
questions that you could ask learners at
each proficiency level. Or, you might think
of an activity in which learners at each
proficiency level could participate.
First Language Development
To Think About:
Do you think the child’s first language is a
hindrance or a help in terms of learning a
second language? Why?
Discuss your ideas with a partner.
Common Underlying
Proficiency/Transferability Theory

Look at the next slide which illustrates a
Dual Iceberg Representation of first and
second language development. What does
this illustration mean?
Dual Iceberg Representation
Surface Features
Surface Features
of L1of L2
Common
Underlying
Proficiency
Common Underlying
Proficiency/Transferability Theory

Many skills and concepts are common or
interdependent across languages.

A skill or concept learned in one language
transfers to another language when the
requisite vocabulary is acquired
Common Underlying
Proficiency/Transferability Theory


For example, a learner only learns to read
once. If a learner can read, he/she can read
in another language, once the vocabulary is
learned.
What needs to be explicitly taught in the
other language are the features that are
different.
What Literacy Skills Transfer?

Directionality

Sequencing

Ability to distinguish shapes and sounds

Knowledge that written symbols correspond to
sounds and can be decoded in order and direction
What Literacy Skills Transfer?

Activation of semantic and syntactic knowledge

Knowledge of text structure

Learning to use cues to predict meaning

Awareness of the variety of purposes for reading
and writing

Confidence in oneself as a reader and writer
What Skills Do Not Transfer?

Critical and Cultural Literacy
(interpretation of text given a specific cultural
world view)
From: C. Roberts. (1994). Transferring literacy skills from L1 to L2: From theory to practice. In The Journal of
Educational Issues of Language Minority Students, v. p. 209-221
Threshold Hypothesis


The threshold hypothesis states there is a
threshold level of ability that needs to be
reached in one language in order for a
learner to be successful in another language
The threshold hypothesis also states that
high levels of bilingualism have positive
cognitive effects
Threshold Hypothesis

Examine the table on the next slide. What
does this table mean?
Threshold Hypothesis
Level of
Competence
Above the
threshold in
L1 and L2
Above the
threshold in
one language
Below the
threshold in
L1 and L2
Type of
Bilingualism
Additive
Cognitive
Effects
Positive
Neutral
Positive
Negative
Threshold Hypothesis:

The better developed the L1, the better developed
the L2 can be.

High level of proficiency in L1-high level of
proficiency in L2 is possible

A low level of proficiency in L1-lower level of
proficiency in L2
What have you learned?

With a partner, list three new things you
have learned from this presentation.
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Second Language Acquisition