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Learning English as an Additional Language
Transcript of Learning English as an Additional Language
Option #2 Interview with a second language learner
Subject: EML510 Student No: 11526406
33 year old male
Hindi & Urdu
English is the second language
Born in Bangladesh
for 7 years
works in a
For this presentation, learning a second language will be referred to as Second Language Acquisition or SLA
What is SLA?
"By SLA we mean acquisition of a language after the native language has already become established in the individual."
Ritchie and Bhatia (1996: 1) as cited in Block (2003, p.8)
(Block, 2003, p. 12-13)
WWII and the need for communication and intelligence work crossing the border of country and culture
Development of a strong theory of language called ‘American structuralist linguistics’
Behaviorist theories with focus on 'conditioning' in exclusion to all mental processes.
3 phenomena led to the beginnings of SLA as a field of research:
Foundational publications in the field of SLA research:
(Fries, 1945) Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language.
1948 – first international journal to publish articles on the SLA theories
(Weinreich, 1953) Languages in Contact.
((Lado, 1957) Classic Linguistics Across Cultures.
(Chomsky, 1957) Syntactic Structures.
Primary & Secondary schooling – English taught as a subject, delivered in Bengali.
Exercises included grammar rules, vocabulary, pronunciation, translation, comprehension activities, writing e.g. letter, application, essay etc.
Medicine degree – the whole course was in English including text materials, written exams.
Prep course for Occupational English Test, run by UNSW.
5 days a week, 7 week course.
4 modules: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Initially basic grammar lessons for a few days.
Speaking was divided into 2 sessions:
3-5 minute role play with an acting patient
A mock test based on the role play
Listening activities based on audio tapes, videos.
Reading articles and comprehension tests based on that.
Practicing models of writing e.g. referral letters.
English Learning Overview
BeeOasis.com. (2012, July 6). Comprehensible Input | Stephen Krashen [Video file]. Video posted to
Block, D. (2003). A short history of second language acquisition. In The social turn in second language acquisition (pp. 8-31). Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press.
Brown, H. D. (2007). Language, learning and teaching. In Principles of language learning and teaching (5th ed.) (pp. 9-15). White Plains, NY : Pearson Longman.
Cockrell, c. (2013, May 13). Long's Interaction: Theory and Beyond EDCI434 Final. [Video file]. Video posted to
Gass, S. M. & Selinker, L. (2008). Second language acquisition: an introductory course. Mahwah, NJ: Routledge.
Krashen, S. D. (1985). The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications. UK: Longman Group
Richards, J. (2006). Communicative language teaching today. Available at http://www.cambridge.org/other_files/downloads/esl/booklets/Richards-Communicative-Language.pdf
Mackey, A. (1999). Input, interaction and second language development: An empirical study of question formation in ESL. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21(4), 557-587.
Scarino, A. & Liddicoat , A. J. (2009). Teaching and Learning Languages: A Guide. SA:Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Schütz, R. (2011). Language acquisition vs. language learning. Available at http://www.sk.com.br/sk-laxll.html
Theories & Implications
Interview conducted in participant's home as prearranged.
Consent gained for conducting and recording interview
The zone of proximal development
“The distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.” Vygotsky (1978, p. 86)
Gass and Selinker (2008) also assert that this implies learning is social in nature, learning happens from interpersonal activity, collaboration is important for learning.
to the participant's learning of a second language.
This can be traced back to the "Sociocultural theory of Zone of proximal development."
"...they helped us, they let us know that what were the mistakes and how we could improve that..."
as indicated by the following comments
Since then, the study of SLA has come a long way...
Up to where we are today...
“…friends from different languages, so I had to talk to them in English. So that helped me to increase my fluency, sentence making and speaking skills.”
"...we had time to ask questions, we had time to learn if we have any weakness in the sentence making, speaking…”
“When I go to shopping, I had to communicate with other people. so in different ways the English learning was gained.”
(Block, 2003, p. 13-16)
Although grammar was taught,
of the participant's English language learning.
as evident in the participant's remarks
“The Occupational English Test is designed in a way that we can, we know the way of communication in Australian health system..."
“Communication is the main role in our job. Although people think that ok doctors will write some medications for us or give us some tests. But communication is the main part of treating a patient, managing a patient in Australia..."
So, what is communicative language teaching?
According to Richards (2006), the purpose of communicative language teaching is to attain
Knowing how to use language for a range of different purposes and functions
Knowing how to vary our use of language according to the setting and the participants
Knowing how to maintain communication despite having limitations in one’s language knowledge (e.g., through using
Knowing how to produce and understand different types of texts (e.g., narratives, reports, interviews, conversations)
(Richards, 2006, p.3)
mastery of grammar
was not the sole desired outcome of the participant's learning experience.
"Communicative language teaching method came about from the need for learners to use
"English in order to use it in specific occupational or educational settings.
For them it would be more efficient to teach them the specific kinds of language and communicative skills needed for particular roles, (e.g., that of nurse, engineer, flight attendant, pilot, biologist, etc.)" (Richards, 2006, p.12)
this was just the case in respect to the participant
Zone of Proximal Development
Communicative language teaching
Comprehensible Input hypothesis
Error and feedback
Learner age and native language
The participant was taught English using content that he could
and relate to.
According to Stephen Krashen , this is a must for language learning.
He is well known for the 'Comprehensive Input' hypothesis which claims that humans acquire language by receiving and understanding messages that contain some structures beyond our current level of understanding. (Krashen, 1985)
Krashen demonstrates the 'Comprehensive Input' theory
The participant's English learning experience relates, in some respect, to the 'Comprehensible Input' hypothesis...
Input was provided in the form of
patient-doctor role play
consultations, writing referral letters
teaching, instructing, assessing, giving feedback
As the input provided in each of these 3 categories were familiar to the learner, it was comprehensible and provided effective learning.
However, output e.g. assessments were also an important part of the participant's learning, which the 'Input' hypothesis negates.
Although the participant had studied English as a subject before, his communicative English learning began at the age of 26, when he arrived in Australia.
The participant's view of the impact of age is supported in literature. According to Schütz (2011), many SLA studies have discovered the the younger the age of the learner
'the easier, the faster and the more complete'
the second language learning will be.
played a both positive and negative role in his second language learning.
“When I wanted to speak in the Australian way, it was very difficult to learn and took long time to understand the accents and deliver my speech. So, obviously the age was a factor that affected my learning. I think that if I was a, you know, very young child...it would have helped me.
He feels that his age was a factor causing
in language learning:
The Australian pronunciation of words were difficult to attain as the participant was already used to pronouncing many English was in a different way.
A large group of Bangla alphabets allowed the participant find corresponding sounds from the English which aided speaking and pronunciation.
Prevalent in 1940s and 1950s, this theory was based on 'stimulus-response' associations, where it was seen as an external observation behaviour.
Learning is seen is being actively constructed by the individual's thinking mind, together with their current knowledge and understanding.
An example is the theory of 'Monitor Theory' of Stephen Krashen.
Learning is seen as a process embedded in social, cultural, historical and institutional context.
An example is the theory of 'The Zone of Proximal Development by Lev Vygotsky.
Theories of Language Learning:
Scarino and Liddicoat (2009)
Lado claims that individual's transfer the
'forms and meanings'
of the first language to L2 (Gass & Slinker, 2008)
We can see the participant's attempt to transfer
through the comments.
Learner 'errors' and 'mistakes' are an important part of the process of learning a second language.
'Mistakes' are often random 'slips' that can be made by both native and non-native speakers. Mistakes are easily self corrected.
'Errors' on the other hand are noticeable deviations from the L2 grammar of cannot be self-corrected unless pointed out and explained.
According to Long (1996) negative 'feedback' along with negotiated meaning plays a crucial role in L2 learning.
The participant also deemed 'feedback' helpful for his second language learning:
"...as soon as we finished the assessment and the tests and they pointed out our mistakes. In this way it was very helpful to correct our mistakes..."
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The participant believed that
'communication in the workplace'
was the best method for learning English.
"But if I choose one thing to learn English, I would say communication in the workplace..."
Communication happens through
with people and environment e.g. the workplace.
Long and Pica (cited in Mackey, 1999) claim that 'interaction' facilitates second language learning because of the processes involved.
A demonstration of Long's interaction hypothesis
The participant benefited most from
for 'speaking skills.'
"In my workplace, basically I developed my English speaking skills…so working environment is very important, when you know what you’re dealing with and when you mix with, when you communicate with other people about day-to-day issues and about your problems and you know about your work, about your workplace assessment…”
As educators and currently students ourselves, we need to understand the theoretical underpinnings surrounding the acquisition of a second language.
Our understanding of the above and the implications of this will enable us to be more informed and teach more effectively.
Second Language learning is an experience most people around the world are likely to go through to some extent.