Second Language Acquisition There Is Term Paper

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Subject: Communication - Language
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #6050017

Excerpt from Term Paper :

These people are also, reportedly, more creative, and also excellent at problem solving. One Moroccan individual was injured in an accident, she was a bi-lingual, and she could speak both French and Arabic before the accident. During her recovery, she found to her amazement, tat she could speak French one day but not Arabic, and one day, Arabic and not French. After three months, she could speak both fluently.

Today, with the increasing advent of globalization in every sphere of life, it must be stated that almost everyone has something to say about it. While a businessman may feel that the world markets would open up as a direct consequence of globalization, some others may feel that since globalization would only serve to, eventually, widen the already wide gap between the rich and the poor of the world, it may not be such a nice thing, after all. However, the implications of the phenomenon for educators are extremely significant; people can now move freely from one country to another, for any number of reasons, including, for example, a desire for better economic conditions, a need for labor, refugee who move form the country of their birth to another country, oppression of one group of people by another, and also when a natural disaster strikes.

When multitudes of people are mobile, it can only mean that it would directly affect the linguistic, cultural, racial, and religious diversity within schools and between the children of the school. For example in Toronto in Canada almost fifty eight percent of children is from homes where Standard English is not spoken; nor is it the means of communication within the family. It must be mentioned that this is a common enough phenomenon in many schools in North America, and in Europe, but at the same time, it is indeed a controversial issue, wherein educational policies and methodologies vary vastly between these kinds of diverse population. Many students, for whom English is not their mother tongue, were punished previously, but today, however, they would not be punished. At the same time, however, the subtle message that if the child does not speak English, he will not be completely accepted by the school is omnipresent, and therefore, these children would have to naturally renounce their allegiance to their own home and language and culture.

Some people do feel that this could be a direct violation of the child's right to an appropriate education, and it would also, in the long run, destabilize and undermine the communicative relationship between the parent and the child, who is taught to communicate in an alien language, as far as the parents are concerned. Any realistic language educator would have to agree to the fact that schools should and must indeed build on the experiences and the information and the knowledge that such children bring to the classroom, and try to promote these experiences and knowledge within the classroom. However, even today, the primary challenge for an educator and a second language instructor who handles children or even adult learners is that they are the people, after all, who would be held responsible, in the long run, for fostering and then shaping the evolution of national identity of the children, in such a way that the rights of all the children that they teach would be respected, and also so that the cultural, linguistic, and economic resources of the nation would eventually be maximized.

When a new learner is in the process of acquiring a new language, he generally has to progress through several stages: pre-production, early production, speech emergence, intermediate fluency, and advanced fluency. The first stage is the silent time, when the learner has a vocabulary of more than 500 words, but has not yet leant to use them, and he may listen very attentively, and copy words down. In general, at this stage, many repetitions would be necessary, and it would also help if they had a 'buddy' who would speak to them in the language that they were learning. The second stage lasts up to six months, and the learner would now be able to speak in one or two-word phrases. The third stage is that of speech emergence, when the learner has acquired a vocabulary of more than 3,000 words, and they would be able to communicate using short phrases and sentences, even if they may not be grammatically perfect. At the next stage, the learner would know about 6,000 new words, and he can also use complex sentences, which are grammatically correct too. However, when the learner reaches the last fluent stage, he would have spent almost four to six years on acquiring the second language, and at this time, he would be acknowledged for his cognitive academic language proficiency in a second language.

A teacher must have a clear understanding of second language acquisition, when he has to handle several students from diverse backgrounds, in his classroom. It must be noted that certain key concepts must be understood and utilized by the teacher when teaching second language acquisition. One particular concept that most educators prefer to use is the 'comprehensible input; hypothesis, by Stephen Krashen, which states that in general, a learner acquires a new language by 'in taking' the new language, which may be, at the present time, a little beyond their level of comprehension. The researcher Merrill Swain has included the concept of 'comprehensible output' to this theory, wherein providing learners with as many opportunities as possible to use the language that they have acquired would allow them to use their newly acquired skills.

Another concept that is very poplar with educators is the theory of Jim Cummins, wherein he insists upon the distinction between two types of language: basic interpersonal communications skills or BICS and cognitive academic language proficiency CALP. Although it is true that an average student would be able to develop fluency within two to four years, developing fluency in the advanced usage of the language would take up another five years. Two common types of communication, according to Jim Cummins, are context-embedded communication, and context-reduced communication.

Today, as mentioned earlier, with the increase of globalization, many educators are being forced to face the challenge of teaching a number of culturally diverse children, with no understanding of the English language. Guidelines must be developed to help these educators, so that they would know what to do, and how to go about helping these children acquire second language skills. Therefore, it must be stated that just as first language educators do, the educators in second language must be capable of explaining exactly how the new language can be acquired, and the basic nature of the language, to his students. However, unlike first language educators, second language educators must know and understand the enormous variations that occur in the process, both in the rate of the language acquisition, as well as in the level of 'ultimate attainment' that would generally be found when a learner has successfully leant and acquired the skills of a new language. Individual differences, the age, the place where it is learned, the aptitude, and the context of acquisition: all play an equally important role in the study and acquisition of a second language.

Although some learners may learn faster than some others, and some may become fluent in the second language without much difficulty, it is indeed true that at the end of the learning period, the educator, as well as the learner, would feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction and happiness at having achieved almost the 'impossible', which is that of acquiring a new language.

References

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Cummins, Jim. Bi-lingual Children's mother tongue, why is it important for education?

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Retrieved at http://www.cal.org/ericcll/digest/ncrcds04.html. Accessed 14 July, 2006

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