Second Language Acquisition
Teaching the ESOL Student in
the Mainstream Classroom
Module 2 – Part 1
Contents:
Language Acquisition Theory
 Noam
Chomsky
 Stephen Krashen
 Jim Cummins
Language Acquisition Theory:
The linguists who have had the most influence in language
acquisition theory are Noam Chomsky, Stephen Krashen, and
Jim Cummins.
Chomsky’s theories involve the idea that some language learning
ability is innate – a part of the human mind. Krashen
emphasizes the social and interpersonal aspects of language.
The distinction between interpersonal and academic language
are the basis of Cummins’ work.
In this segment, we will learn more about these three linguists and
their contributions to language acquisition theory.
Language Acquisition Theory:
Noam Chomsky
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PhD in Linguistics from University
of Pennsylvania (1955)
Joined Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT) in 1955
Writes and lectures on linguistics,
philosophy, intellectual history,
contemporary issues, international
affairs and U.S. foreign policy.
Noam Chomsky




Most influential linguist of the 20th century
Some aspects of language are innate – a certain
“Universal Grammar” for language learning exists
within the brain
Universal Grammar guides language development in
any language
Universal Grammar is supported by observations
including:
–
–
–
–
All human cultures have complex language
Children learn language without formal teaching
Children not exposed to language create their own
Results of traumatic brain injuries
Summary - Chomsky
Key Points:


Some language ability is innate.
Universal Grammar exists in all languages.
Language Acquisition Theory:
Stephen Krashen


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Professor Emeritus, University of
Southern California
Linguist specializing in theories
of language acquisition and
development
Research involving non-English
and bilingual language
acquisition
Widely accepted theory of
second language acquisition
Stephen Krashen
Krashen’s theory of second language
acquisition includes five main hypotheses:
 Acquisition-Learning
 Monitor
Hypothesis
Hypothesis
 Natural Order Hypothesis
 Input Hypothesis
 Affective Filter Hypothesis
Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis

Addresses two ways of gaining knowledge of a
second language

Learning is knowing about a language. It involves a
traditional approach of rules of grammar, lists of new
vocabulary words, etc. which requires a conscious
effort.

Acquisition is equivalent to using language for real
communication. It is more like absorbing – an
unconscious effort similar to the process seen in an
infant and young child.
.
Monitor Hypothesis

Language fluency comes from what we have
acquired in natural communication situations.

Formal knowledge of language (rules) does
not create fluency.

Formal knowledge allows language learners
to plan and monitor (check and make
corrections) language use when speaking.
Natural Order Hypothesis

Acquisition of grammar follows a “natural
order” that is predictable.

Natural order seems to be independent of
age, first language, culture, etc.

Krashen does not recommend a programmed
approach when acquisition in the goal.
Input Hypothesis

Relates to acquisition, not learning.

Learner makes progress along the natural
order when exposed to “input” a step
beyond the current stage.

Comprehensible Input = i+1 = acquisition
Affective Filter Hypothesis

The emotions of a language learner can
interfere or assist with language acquisition.

Public speaking can create anxiety, anger,
and embarrassment.

Negative emotions can create a “filter” that
blocks new information.

Classrooms need to be engaging and nonthreatening to increase motivation and
encourage risk taking.
Summary - Krashen
Key Points:

Difference between language acquisition and
language learning

Study of grammar not effective in acquisition
Language Acquisition Theory:
Jim Cummins

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Born in Dublin, Ireland
Student of bilingual education
(Irish/English)
PhD from University of Alberta in
Edmonton focused on bilingualism,
cognition, and bilingual education
Currently professor in the
Department of Teaching, Learning,
and Curriculum in the Ontario
Institute for Studies in Education of
the University of Toronto
Research focused on bilingualism,
educational barriers, language
learning, and special education
Jim Cummins

Distinguishes between interpersonal
communication skills and cognitive academic
language

Two – five years to develop interpersonal
communication skills

Four – seven years to develop cognitive
academic language
Jim Cummins

Two types of communication – Contextembedded Communication and Contextreduced Communication

Context-embedded: provides support through
visuals, gestures, tone of voice

Content-reduced: fewer clues, telephone,
email, notes
Jim Cummins

Two types of cognitive demands – cognitively
undemanding communication and cognitively
demanding communication

Cognitively undemanding – minimal abstract
thinking, social conversation, yes/no questions

Cognitively demanding – requires analyzing and
synthesizing, abstract concepts, academic
content, and lecture
Summary - Cummins
Key Points:

Language acquisition involves many complex levels
of usage and understanding

Understanding these concepts can help teachers
develop instructional strategies for a variety of
language uses
Bibliography
Baker, Colin. (2003). An Advocate for Tolerance: A Biography of Jim Cummins. The Bilingual Family Newsletter.
http://http://www.multilingual-matters.com/multi/pdf/family_newsletter.pdf. Online.
Center for Applied Linguistics. (2000). Enhancing English Language Learning in Elementary Classrooms. Delta
Publishing Company.
Mason, T. (unknown). Didactics 10-Critique of Krashen VI. IUFM de Versailles. http://perso.clubinternet.fr/tmason/WebPages/LangTeach/Licence/CM/OldLectures/L10_Monitor.htm. Online.
Reed, B. & Railsback, J. (2003). Strategies and Resources for Mainstream Teachers of English Language
Learners. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. http://www.nwrel.org/request/2003may/ell.pdf. Online.
Schütz, Ricardo. (2002). Stephen Krashen's Theory of Second Language Acquisition. English Made in Brazil
http://www.sk.com.br/sk-krash.html. Online.
Unknown. (2003). Bilingual Verbal Ability Tests – Author Biography. Riverside Publishing Company.
http://riverpub.com/products/clinical/bvat/cumm.html. Online.
Unknown. (2002). Noam Chomsky Biography. MIT Linguistics.
http://web.mit.edu/linguistics/www/biography/noambio.html. Online.
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Second Language Acquisition