English is one of the primary languages that is taught almost everywhere in the world.
It has a lot of extended reach and influence around the world. The United States especially have a tremendous amount of immigrants that need to learn English as a second language.
The public school system accommodates this learning model by creating a specific program to assist children to make that transition. Most schools have debated whether they should isolate these children and keep them from interacting with their peers or allow them to learn some of the language through their peers.
If the student has developed cognitively and academically in the native language, this can have a positive effect on how they learn a second language. All the skills learned in the first language transfer to the second language.
It is critical that schools provide a learning environment that will sustain and encourage the use of what the child learned in the first language. Research has shown that first language acquisition helps the student learn a second language.
Students who are learning English as a second language will approach the second language using the same tactics they learned in the first language. One difference to be noted is that the student not only has to understand the meaning, purpose and use of the language, but also how to communicate it in written and verbal form.
Phases of learning English
Students go through five different stages when learning to write and speak English as a second language. The same is true for any second language. The stages include:
2. Early production
3. Speech Emergence
4. Intermediate Fluency
5. Advanced Fluency
The pre-production phase is considered to be the silent or mimicking phase. Their vocabulary is limited and they don’t feel comfortable with speaking the language yet.
The early production phase may last for six months as the vocabulary expands and students learn more words. They begin to speak using one or two word phrases.
The speech emergence phase carries an even more wide vocabulary where students are actually speaking in simple sentences, but more comfortably. They may ask uncomplicated questions of incorrect grammatically error.
As they emerge in the intermediate fluency phase, they are speaking and writing in more complex sentences and are not afraid to express thoughts and ideas.
The advanced fluency phase may take as much as ten years to attain academic proficiency in the second language.
Peer interaction is helpful for students who are trying to learn English as a second language and teachers should foster and encourage this in and out of the classroom.
Teachers should offer as much support as possible.