Lily Wong Fillmore's Theories on Language

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  • 0:03 Lily Wong Fillmore
  • 0:38 Motivation and Language
  • 1:44 Second Language Acquisition
  • 2:28 Language Learning Variables
  • 3:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Frank Clint

Frank has been an educator for over 10 years. He has a doctorate degree in education with a concentration in curriculum and instruction.

Learn how renowned education researcher Lily Wong Fillmore's theories can be applied to teaching English language learners in the classroom. This lesson identifies and describes her theories related to language learning and second language acquisition.

Lily Wong Fillmore

Imagine arriving in a country where you didn't know the language. As you observe the people around you, you begin to crave social interaction and that need for friendship most of us desire to some extent. This scenario describes the dominant theme in Lily Wong Fillmore's theories on language. Lily Wong Fillmore is a researcher and professor at the University of California Berkeley who has spent her life studying issues related to English language learners. Her research is best known for how students acquire language through socialization.

Motivation and Language

Fillmore believes that there are three ideals for language learning. First, there should be a learner who has a real need to learn a second language because he or she wants to become part of a social community. Second, there needs to be a social setting where the language to be learned is the dominant language spoken by native speakers in the setting. The third ideal is having speakers of the target language who provide the learner with practice speaking the language.

In the classroom, you can set up the conditions for these ideals to exist. For example, your classroom environment is the social setting that can provide many opportunities for students to interact with each other. Collaborative learning activities are excellent strategies for implementing a social setting. English language learners will experience the need and motivation to acquire the language if your classroom is engaging and they want to partake in the fun.

Providing speakers of the target language may be out of your hands. However, if you know for a fact that the majority of your students are native speakers of the English language, then you know you can create the ideal social setting for language learning acquisition to happen.

Second Language Acquisition

There are three processes students use for second language acquisition, which means acquiring the knowledge necessary to be fluent in a new language:

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