Choose Your Language
Blog

Posts Tagged ‘language acquisition’

Language Acquisition - Redsignation

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Redesignation is a reclassification of a new language speaker from limited fluency to proficiency. There are certain specific criteria to determine when a student moves from one phase of fluency to another. This is determined by the recommendation of the teacher, verbal fluency, reading, and writing as well as how the student does in other academic studies.

Teachers have to be accountable for making the decision whether a student truthfully progresses from one level to the next. Giving credit where credit is due should be the result of redesignation.

It is important for educators to assess the language proficiency of students by collecting and analyzing data effectively to get the best results.

They can use this data to adequately target and improve on the instructions necessary to help the student to become even more proficient.

Students that adapt to English language as their second language and pass through the redesignation phase do so from one level to the next. They move from being English Learners (EL) to limited English proficient learner (LEP) and then to fluent English proficient learners (FEP).

When someone is learning a second language such as English, they have to enter a reclassification process to determine fluency before they can enter a normal classroom. With additional assistance, they can perform even better and get to the next level.

To make sure that student’s progress, teachers are required to give the students language assessment and proficiency test. This kind of process will help the teacher to detect the student’s growth in language proficiency in the earlier stages of learning.

However, it does not detect little changes or proficiency shifts at higher proficiency levels. The reason for that is because second language students that communicate at a higher level of proficiency do so as closely in approximation as that of a native speaker.

Conclusion

It is easier for teachers to measure student’s proficiency progress orally than by written observation because it entails listening and speaking. It is just easier to compare proficiency in a more verbal communicative environment. It is difficult to measure growth by reading and writing because these do not grow as progressively as listening and speaking.

Language Acquistion - Natural Approach (Terrell and Krashen)

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Tracy Terrell and Stephen Krashen corporately developed the natural approach to language acquisition in 1977. They made an impact on the global community as this approach had an influence on many classrooms.

The goal of the natural approach is allow the beginner who is learning a new language to become an intermediate learner. It relies on the needs that the learner has.

Learning a new language using the natural approach is based on certain specifics, which include:

  • The Acquisition hypothesis – this is where language acquisition is more important than language learning. Language acquisition develops more competence in the students and not so much the rules of the language as language learning do.
  • Monitor hypothesis – this is the checks and balances of learning consciously.
  • Natural order hypothesis – this is the grammatical structure that is usually expected and will do the student no good to learn them in another way.
  • Input hypothesis – this is when students who are learning a new language are better able to comprehend it at a slightly higher level of competence.
  • Affective filter hypothesis – this is when the student uses their emotions to block the input that is needed for language acquisition.

Some of the techniques that teachers can use to enhance the language acquisition using the natural approach is to allow students to speak when they are ready to do so, put students in group to foster more communication and use comprehensible input in student’s native language with gestures and other forms of articulation.

Students that use the natural approach are able to use the new language to indulge in meaningful conversations and activities.

Conclusion

It does seem from the approaches implemented by Krashen and the methods used by Terrell that students would learn to apply what they have learned more outside of the classroom and more by communicating with their peers.

This constitutes why students will learn language in a natural way when they can identify with others. The natural approach indicates that the more exposure to the new language that a student has then the more successful they will be.

Immersion Programs - Language Learning

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

During the 1960s, Canada experimented with the French Immersion Program to allow students to understand their French culture, tradition and its language; both French and English.

Immersion programs can be either a full or partial instruction of a second language. A full immersion is more effective because of the intensive curriculum. The second language is the medium used to teach students and more time is spent on this especially in the early years of a student’s schooling. This includes both reading and the language arts.

Partial immersion cuts the time spent in half learning a second language. Language arts and reading are partially taught in English and the other half in the second language.

Teachers that use these immersion programs expect to accomplish one or all of the items listed below on a long term basis:

1.    To develop the student’s level of proficiency
2.    To create a positive attitude toward the native language speakers and their cultures
3.    Develop the student’s English Language skills dependent on their age and expected abilities.
4.    Acquiring skills and content knowledge according to the curriculum and the objectives of the school board

The success of an immersion program has to do with how much administrative support is offered. The support of the community and parents are also helpful. Teachers have to be qualified and must have the right teaching materials for the second language. Developmental staff training and time given to teachers for preparation of instructional materials are very important.

Total immersion programs give the students more exposure to the language to make them more proficient. Some students may find it too much and so teachers will make recommendations to move students to a less intense program. It is not easy to find a total immersion teacher and so schools will usually promote the partial immersion classes. Some parents don’t think that students can learn a second language just as well as their own.

Partial immersion programs does not need as much special teachers. Schools can utilize the services of one teacher for two partial immersion programs for two half-days. In some cases, it makes the parents feel more at ease that their children are not spending all day learning a curriculum in a second language other than English. The proficiency level, however, of part time immersion students is far less than those for students in the total immersion programs.

Conclusion

In an immersion program, the second language is not the subject matter, but only a tool used to teach students how to become proficient in another language other than their own.

Language Learning Methods - The Grammar Translation Method

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

The Grammar Translation Method was a traditional method used to teach Greek and Latin. It is also known as the classical method because it was developed centuries ago specifically to teach classical language.

This technique called for students to provide translation of an entire text on a word for word basis. They had to memorize a lot of grammatical rules and grammatical exceptions as well as a long list of vocabulary.

The main focus of using this method is:

•    Interpretation of words and phrases
•    Learning the structure of the second language by comparing it with the native language
•    Taking into account grammatical rules
•    Be able to read, write and translate a foreign language

The native language is used to conduct the class where a large vocabulary list was used that covered both languages; the second language as well as the first. Grammar points would be derived from the text and contextually presented in the textbook as it is explained by the teacher.

The Learning Process

Those grammar points were instrumental in giving the student a provisional rule of how to assemble words into appropriate sentences. The grammar drills and translations were incorporated into the learning process through practice and exercises. This helped to increase the knowledge of the student without them having to put too much emphasis on the content.

The student would break up different sentences as they were needed and translate them. By the time the student got through that process, they would have translated the entire text from the second language to the native language. In some cases, they would be asked to do the reverse (translate native language into second language) to make sure that they grasped the process.

There was hardly any emphasis placed on how words were pronounced or any type of verbal or nonverbal communication aspects of the language. Reading written text was essential to the learning process, but only to get the translation correct.

Conclusion

Conversational fluency is not important when it comes to grammar translation. You have to depend on your memory to be able to recall all the rules associated with the grammar of the second language you are trying to learn. The student who is learning using this technique will be able to read and write in the target language, but the spoken language is not a priority as well as emphasis on listening skills.