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Factors Affecting English Language Acquisition

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  • 0:00 English Language Acquisition
  • 0:17 Cognitive Learning Styles
  • 1:26 Cultural Background
  • 1:55 Prior Experience
  • 2:57 Classroom Influences
  • 4:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

English language acquisition is an involved and complex process. This lesson provides teachers with an overview of how to identify and relate to the patterns and stages of language acquisition.

English Language Acquisition

This lesson gives a brief description of each of the factors that affect a student's English language acquisition. It offers teachers key take-away points designed to aid student progress.

Cognitive Learning Styles

Each student absorbs knowledge and learns new skills differently. Consequently, it is extremely difficult to accommodate the learning style of every student, particularly in larger classes. To mitigate this problem, it's important to provide students with a variety of learning activities and methods that incorporate different content delivery styles and approaches.

One effective strategy is to create ample opportunities for students to voice both their recommendations and concerns. Who knows better how they learns than the students themselves? Basically, an open mind and flexible lesson plans can go a long way in helping to adapt to various academic environments.

In addition, there are students that have a natural aptitude for languages, just as others may have innate abilities in sciences or the arts. An environment in which they are not challenged or feel that progress is coming to slowly can hamper the development of exceptional students. To avoid this, it's vital to identify the learners who are progressing quickly and provide them with additional learning opportunities. This can be accomplished with the use of small groups, after school clubs, or optional activities during free time.

Cultural Background

A student's cultural background can impact many aspects of their English language acquisition. Some students may find that the language they speak at home is not the same language they use at school. Due of this, they may not have sufficient time to improve their listening comprehension skills or to practice speaking outside of the school setting. In order to increase exposure to English, it's important to provide students with ample opportunities to share their cultural backgrounds, differences and similarities with each other.

Prior Experience

Many English language students have never had a native English-speaking teacher. Because of this, their previous English training may have focused primarily on memorizing vocabulary words and standard grammatical forms. While this approach can be initially helpful to a students' learning, it does little to improve their conversational skills and or real life English applications of the language. Regardless of a students' language proficiency, giving them ample opportunity to speak aloud and share ideas is the most effective way to mitigate any prior deficiencies.

A student's level of literacy in their prior language depends heavily on his or her native language. If a student is coming from a language that uses a Romanized alphabet, it may be easier. If the student's native language uses a non-phonetic writing or pronunciation method, it may be more difficult for them to acquire reading and writing skills.

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