The Nuts and Bolts of Language Acquisition

Language acquisition is an unconscious process and the linguistic system itself, completely implicit (unconscious).

One can not consciously memorize or learn language fragments (linguistic data) and then incorporate them into a system that is by nature, unconscious.

Small bits of grammatical information may help with comprehension, but overall, have little to no effect on acquisition.

Just as one can must be IN water to learn to swim/develop swimming skills, one must be IN the language to develop communication skills.

Based on the unconscious nature of the acquisition process and the linguistic system, it is logical to conclude that language can not be ‘taught’ like other subject matter.  Instructions about using the language will not help any more than instructions about swimming will help someone learn to swim.

Using or being IN the language means providing and opportunity to interact with input that is comprehensible and conducive for language acquisition.

Comprehensible Input (CI) is the single most critical element necessary for second language acquisition to occur.

CI is most conducive for language acquisition when it is in context, compelling and meaningful to students.

Comprehensible it not enough!

There are several factors that make CI conducive to SLA:
– Repeated exposure over time
– Meaningful contexts
– Relevant and/or personalized exchanges
– Input that is compelling / high-interest

Each exposure to a piece of linguistic data helps students to gradually and naturally internalize language, which ultimately results in acquisition. Acquisition is necessary FLUENCY to develop.

Repeated exposure to CI is naturally accomplished by focusing on multiple contexts through a variety of media/approaches. (i.e. class discussions, storytelling, story-asking, TPRS, Modified MovieTalk, video-based lessons, guided reading strategies and reading activation strategies).

Reading provides a powerful avenue for acquiring language!

Fluency Matters’ readers are unrivaled in their effectiveness for facilitating acquisition. Find out why.

Students can only use (produce) the language that they have in their heads, so it stands to reason that beginners will not produce with 100% grammatical accuracy.

Second language learners RARELY if ever develop native-like proficiency.

The highest average proficiency level attained by high school students is intermediate mid. (This is the HIGHEST attained by the highest levels. Most high school students never exceed novice levels.)

Language acquisition is a S L O W and complex process. There are no shortcuts and direct instruction / conscious learning will NOT shorten the process.

If Fluency Matters to you, be intentional about ensuring that the principles of second language acquisition drive your instruction. Learn more!