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Sociocultural Factors in Second Language Acquisition

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Sarah DeLong

on 19 March 2014

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Transcript of Sociocultural Factors in Second Language Acquisition

Sociocultural Factors
Second Language

Schumann's Acculturation Model
Schumann's Acculturation Model
Implications for Teachers
Teachers can help improve classroom attitude by developing encouraging relationships with their students and by providing meaningful activities that show success in new language is possible.

To reduce culture shock, students learning a new language should understand the culture of their target language. This includes knowledge of products, practices, and perspectives of different cultures.
Works Cited
Ajayi, L. (2008) . ESL Theory practice Difficulty of Integrating Sociocultural Perspectives into Pedagogical Practices.
Foreign Language Annals,
41 (4), 639-659.
Freeman, D. E., & Freeman, Y.S. 2011. Between worlds: Access to second language acquisition (3rd ed.). Portsmouth: Heinemann.
Jang, E. Y., & Jimenez, R. T. (2011). A sociocultural perspective on second language learner strategies: Focus on the impact of context. The college of Education and Human Ecology, 141-148.
Khawaja, N., & Stallman, H. (2011). Understanding the Coping Strategies of International Students: A Qualitative Approach. Australian Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 21(2), 203-224
Maftooon, P & Sabah, S. (2012). A Critical Look at the Staus of Affect in Second Language Acquisition Research: Lessons from Vygotsky's Legacy. BRAIN. 3(2), 40.
Martinsen, R. A., & Alvord, S. M. (2012). On the relationship between L2 pronunciation and culture. Spanish In Context, 9(3), 443-465.
Martins-Shannon, J., & White, M. (2012). Support Culturally Responsive Teaching!. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(1), 4-6.
Young-Scholten, M. (2013). Low Educated Immigrants and the Social Relevance of Second Language Acquisition Research. Second Language Research. 29(4), 445.
First language learners often reach similar levels of language proficiency.
L2 learners' competency differs considerably, even when they receive similar amounts and quality of exposure to their second language (Jang & Jimenez, 2011).

Think about this...
Why is it that some second language learners reach proficiency in a new language while others do not?
Psychological Factors
Culture Shock
Those with high motivation to learn the language are more likely to learn the language than those with low motivation
Those with a positive attitude toward the language and culture are more likely to learn the language that those who hold a negative attitude
When a newcomer experiences culture shock, he experiences more difficulty and learning the language.
Positive Attitude Example
Motivation: Ability to Communicate and social inclusion
Examples from international students:
Social Distance Factors 1-4
Social Dominance
Integration Pattern
Social distance is greatest when one group dominates the other and it diminishes when the two groups have roughly equal power.
Social distance is greatest when there is a pattern of limited integration between the two cultures.
Social distance is increased when the learner group is self-sufficient and does not need to interact with members of the target culture.
Social distance is increased when the learner group is tight-knit.
Social Distance Factors 5-8
Cultural Congruence
Intended Length
of Residence
"... individual's learning could not be separated from other people’s learning and that the connection between individual and the society mediates and connects learning with the cognitive aspect of mind. ….Social and institutional structures in and outside the school serve as mediation as individuals participate in the cultural activity (i.e. language learning) specified by their communities. Thus state/county language policy, physical and material resources, language situations, instructional practices, and so on, become important mediation factors (Ajayi, 639-659).
Social Dominance Example
"...interaction as an interpersonal activity offers participants in the L2 class opportunities to establish and maintain social relationships and individual activities through pair and/or group activities." Maftoon and Sabah, 2012
Integration Example
"[Nafa's family] represents a high- enclosure group, a cohesive community with a pattern of limited integration with the mainstream culture." (Freeman & Freeman, 2011, p. 129)
High-Enclosure Group example
Characteristics of the Marshallese culture:
The Marshallese have been leaving the islands in large numbers due to economic hardships.
The Marshallese population in Spokane is growing.
They often live together in small communities.
There is no such thing as a 'distant relative'. Families are tight-knit.
How does this relate to acquisition?

Implications for Teachers
Social distance is greater when the learner group is big. Smaller groups experience less social distance.
Nearly 10% of students at Longfellow elementary are Hispanic/Latino while 1% of students at University Elementary are (OSPI WA State Report Card)
greater degree of acculturation and acquisition at University.
more opportunity and necessity to interact with target culture
Nearly 30% of the population in Tri-cities is Hispanic/latino while only 5% in Spokane (US Census Bureau)
greater degree of acquisition in Spokane where the size of the learner culture is smaller
About 12% of the population in Washington is Hispanic/Latino while there are 38% in California.
Where would our hispanic ELL experience greater acquisition?

A Hispanic second language learner
Social distance is increased when the two groups are very different culturally.
Social distance is increased when the learner group has a negative attitude towards members of the target-language culture.
"Students who were less culturally sensitive erected defensive barriers with broad generalizations, such as
'the French are so obstinate,'
which led to decreased interaction and in turn decreased language learning." (Martinsen & Alvord, 2012)
An example from a French homestay program
Social distance is greatest when members of the group only intend to stay in the country for a short time.
"Moua's family planned to remain in the United States permanently, so his motivation to learn was high" (Freeman, 2011, p. 129)
Long Length of Residence
Schumann's Model Cont.
Implications for Teachers: Culturally Responsive Teaching
"In post-industrialized countries, literacy level is closely tied to the economic productivity of that country, and lack of literacy (and numeracy) to social exclusion, poor health, young parenthood, children’s poor school performance, increased likelihood of bearing learning-disabled children, and criminality. Oral L2 skills allowing communication with members of the adopted country is probably the most important single alterable factor contributing to their social and economic integration. Low-educated adults are the least equipped of all immigrants to be able to communicate with members of their adopted communities." Young-Scholten, 445.
One way to promote acculturation in the classroom is the help all students feel that their culture is appreciated and respected. Teachers can do this by inviting students to share different aspects of their culture with the class. This can be during cultural holidays, or any time.

Teachers can prevent social and psychological
distance by helping students become familiar with and enjoy the target culture

In order to promote positive attitudes toward target cultures, teachers should provide opportunities for students to interact with native speakers from that culture.

To effectively create a culturally responsive classroom, teachers must
understand various ethnic groups, norms, and expectations.
Just as we cannot teach what we do not know, we can not effectively teach students if we know little about them.

Gay (2000) defines culturally responsive teaching as using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse students to make learning more appropriate and effective for them; it teaches
the strengths of these students. It also:

builds bridges of meaningfulness between home and school experiences as well as between academic abstractions and lived sociocultural realities.
uses a wide variety of instructional strategies that are connected to different learning styles.
teaches students to know and praise their own and each others' cultural heritages.
incorporates multicultural information, resources, and materials throughout content areas (Gay, 2000)

Example from the Marshallese Culture
An example from one aspect of culture: Language
Students whose first language is Spanish, French, or German would more likely experience a smaller degree of social distance.
Students whose first language is Japanese, Chinese, or Arabic would experience greater social distance from English-speaking culture.
“When I first caught a bus, I didn’t know how to press the buzzer, I was screaming "Stop, stop!”"

“I was not prepared when I came here for the real life. I was a kind of princess back home and here I have to do everything so you have to grow up.”
“My tutor was staring into my eyes and I found it uncomfortable, but I have to get used to it, sometimes I look away and he is still staring at me.”
(Khawaja & Stallman, 2011)
(Freeman & Freeman, 2011)
Amy had a very positive attitude toward Spanish speakers, just one of many factors to which she can attribute her language learning success and proficiency. (Freeman, 2011, p. 128)
Back to our question...
Why is it that some second language learners reach proficiency in a new language while others do not?

There are many factors aside from cognitive capabilities that impact acquisition.

Schumann identifies both social and psychological factors that effect second language learners' degree of acquisition.

make a difference in their classrooms by being culturally aware and by creating a culturally responsive classroom environment.
By Abigail Woicik, Sarah DeLong,
Jessica Coffin, and Braden Stepp

To Summarize:
Concluding Thoughts to Discuss
Which of Schumann's factors were mentioned in that video and how do they influence Bob's success in this situation?
(Psychological distance: motivation, attitude, and culture shock. Social distance: social dominance, integration pattern, enclosure, cohesiveness, size, cultural congruence, attitude, and intended length of residence.)
Do you agree with the statements made in this video? Why or why not?
Do you think the suggestions made in this video are practical for the general ed. classroom that might have a few ELLs? Why or why not?
Have you had any experiences with these factors? (observed or you personally)
Full transcript