Second Language Acquisition Stages


Second-language acquisition can be divided up into five stages: preproduction, early production, speech emergence, intermediate fluency, and advanced fluency. 

The first stage is preproduction, also known as the silent period. Learners at this stage have a receptive vocabulary of up to 500 words, but they do not yet speak their second language. Not all learners go through a silent period. Some learners start speaking straight away, although their output may consist of imitation rather than creative language use. Others may be required to speak from the start as part of a language course. For learners that do go through a silent period, it may last around three to six months.

The second stage of acquisition is early production, during which learners are able to speak in short phrases of one or two words. They can also memorize chunks of language, although they may make mistakes when using them. Learners typically have both an active and receptive vocabulary of around 1000 words. This stage normally lasts for around six months.

The third stage is speech emergence. Learners’ vocabularies increase to around 3000 words during this stage, and they can communicate using simple questions and phrases. They may often make grammatical errors. The stage after speech emergence is intermediate fluency. At this stage, learners have a vocabulary of around 6000 words, and can use more complicated sentence structures. They are also able to share their thoughts and opinions. Learners may make frequent errors with more complicated sentence structures. The final stage is advanced fluency, which is typically reached somewhere between five and ten years of learning the language. Learners at this stage can function at a level close to native speakers.

The time taken to reach a high level of proficiency can vary depending on the language learned. In the case of native English speakers, some estimates were provided by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the U.S. Department of State, which compiled approximate learning expectations for a number of languages for their professional staff (native English speakers who generally already know other languages). Of the 63 languages analyzed, the five most difficult languages to reach proficiency in speaking and reading, requiring 88 weeks (2200 class hours), are Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarian, Japanese, and Korean. The Foreign Service Institute notes that Japanese is typically more difficult to learn than other languages in this group.

Noam Chomsky

Read More… noam-chmosky Avram Noam Chomsky (/ˈnm ˈɒmski/; born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist,philosophercognitive scientistlogician, political commentator and activist. Sometimes described as the “father of modern linguistics”, Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy. He has spent most of his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is currently Professor Emeritus, and has authored over 100 books. He has been described as a prominent cultural figure, and was voted the “world’s top public intellectual” in a 2005 poll. Born to a middle-class Ashkenazi Jewish family in Philadelphia, Chomsky developed an early interest inanarchism from relatives in New York City. He later undertook studies in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he obtained his BA, MA, and PhD, while from 1951 to 1955 he was appointed toHarvard University‘s Society of Fellows. In 1955 he began work at MIT, becoming a significant figure in the field of linguistics for his publications and lectures on the subject. He is credited as the creator or co-creator of the Chomsky hierarchy, the universal grammar theory, and the Chomsky–Schützenberger theorem. In 1967 he gained public attention for his vocal opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, coming to be associated with the New Left, and being arrested on multiple occasions for his anti-war activism. Expanding his linguistics work over subsequent decades, with Edward S. Herman he developed thepropaganda model of media criticism. Following his retirement from active teaching, he has continued his vocal public activism, praising the Occupy movement.

Memory and second-language acquisition


Perhaps certain psychological characteristics constrain language processing. One area of research is the role of memory. Williams conducted a study in which he found some positive correlation between verbatim memory functioning and grammar learning success for his subjects.This suggests that individuals with less short-term memory capacity might have a limitation in performing cognitive processes for organization and use of linguistic knowledge.

Output Pyphthesis

Further reading: Output & Input Hypothesis

In the field of Second Language Acquisition, there are many theories about the most effective way for language learners to acquire new language forms. One theory of language acquisition is the Comprehensible Output Hypothesis.

Developed by Merrill Swain, the comprehensible output hypothesis states that learning takes place when a learner encounters a gap in his or her linguistic knowledge of the second language (L2). By noticing this gap, the learner becomes aware of it and may be able to modify his output so that he learns something new about the language. Although Swain does not claim that comprehensible output is solely responsible for all or even most language acquisition, she does claim that, under some conditions, CO facilitates second language learning in ways that differ from and enhance input due to the mental processes connected with the production of language. This hypothesis is closely related to the Noticing pyphthesis.

Swain defines three functions of output: 1. Noticing function: Learners encounter gaps between what they want to say and what they are able to say, and so they notice what they do not know or only know partially in this language. 2. Hypothesis-testing function: When a learner says something, there is always an at least tacit hypothesis underlying his or her utterance, e.g. about grammar. By uttering something, the learner tests this hypothesis and receives feedback from an interlocutor. This feedback enables reprocessing of the hypothesis if necessary. 3. Metalinguistic function: Learners reflect on the language they learn, and thereby the output enables them to control and internalize linguistic knowledge

Input Hypothesis

The input hypothesis, also known as the monitor model, is a group of five hypotheses of Second Language Acquisition developed by the linguist Stephen Krashen in the 1970s and 1980s. Krashen originally formulated the input hypothesis as just one of the five hypotheses, but over time the term has come to refer to the five hypotheses as a group. The hypotheses are the input hypothesis, the acquisition–learning hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, the natural order hypothesis and the affective filter hypothesis. The input hypothesis was first published in 1977.

The hypotheses put primary importance on the comprehensible input (CI) that language learners are exposed to. Understanding spoken and written language input is seen as the only mechanism that results in the increase of underlying linguistic competence and language output is not seen as having any effect on learners’ ability. Furthermore, Krashen claimed that linguistic competence is only advanced when language is subconsciously acquired, and that conscious learning cannot be used as a source of spontaneous language production. Finally, learning is seen to be heavily dependent on the mood of the learner, with learning being impaired if the learner is under stress or does not want to learn the language.

Krashen’s hypotheses have been influential in langauge acquisition particularly in the United States, but have received criticism from some academics. Two of the main criticisms are that the hypotheses are untestable, and that they assume a degree of separation between acquisition and learning that has not been proven to exist.

Learners’ most direct source of information about the target language is the target language itself. When they come into direct contact with the target language, this is referred to as “input.” When learners process that language in a way that can contribute to learning, this is referred to as “intake.”

Generally speaking, the amount of input learners take in is one of the most important factors affecting their learning. However, it must be at a level that is comprehensible to them. In his Monitor Theory, Krashen advanced the concept that language input should be at the “i+1” level, just beyond what the learner can fully understand; this input is comprehensible, but contains structures that are not yet fully understood. This has been criticized on the basis that there is no clear definition of i+1, and that factors other than structural difficulty (such as interest or presentation) can affect whether input is actually turned into intake. The concept has been quantified, however, in vocabulary acquisition research; Nation reviews various studies which indicate that about 98% of the words in running text should be previously known in order for extensive learning to be effective.

Second Language Acquisition

Second Language Acquisition

The academic discipline of second-language acquisition is a subdiscipline of applied linguistics. It is broad-based and relatively new. As well as the various branches of linguistics, second-language acquisition is also closely related to psychology, cognitive psychology, and education. To separate the academic discipline from the learning process itself, the terms second-language acquisition researchsecond-language studies, and second-language acquisition studies are also used.

SLA research began as an interdisciplinary field, and because of this it is difficult to identify a precise starting date. However, two papers in particular are seen as instrumental to the development of the modern study of SLA: Pit Corder’s 1967 essay The Significance of Learners’ Errors, and Larry Selinker’s 1972 article Interlanguage. The field saw a great deal of development in the following decades. By the year 2010, second-language acquisition was studied from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives, and there was a proliferation of different theories. However, the main two approaches were linguistic theories based upon Noam Chomsky’s universal grammar, and psychological theories such as skill acquisition skills and connectionism.

The term acquisition was originally used to emphasize the subconscious nature of the learning process, but in recent years learning and acquisition have become largely synonymous.

Second-language acquisition can incorporate heritage language learning, but it does not usually incorporate bilinguism. Most SLA researchers see bilingualism as being the end result of learning a language, not the process itself, and see the term as referring to native-like fluency. Writers in fields such as education and psychology, however, often use bilingualism loosely to refer to all forms of multilinguism. Second-language acquisition is also not to be contrasted with the acquisition of a foreign langauge; rather, the learning of second languages and the learning of foreign languages involve the same fundamental processes in different situations.

There has been much debate about exactly how language is learned, and many issues are still unresolved. There are many theories of second-language acquisition, but none are accepted as a complete explanation by all SLA researchers. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the field of second-language acquisition, this is not expected to happen in the foreseeable future.