Hello in many languages

Fundamental Approaches in Second / Foreign Language Acquisition

Below is a summary of the fundamental approaches to second / foreign language acquisition. More will be added as discovered.
(If you find a popular approach that hasn’t been included, please let me know in the comment)

Note: L1: a person’s first (native) language; L2: the second / foreign language


Hello in many languages

  1. Input hypothesis by Stephen Krashen
    • What matters to language acquisition is comprehensible input
      • Using L1 to aid understanding of L2 is therefore discouraged, and used only when absolutely necessary
      • A (quite surprising) corollary of this is that speaking practice is not the key to language acquisition
    • Affective filter hypothesis: emotional aspects, such as motivation, self-esteem and anxiety, affects the acquisition of languages
    • Focal skills:
      • Focusing on improving one skill (3/4 of the time) at a time until reaching mastery (a predetermined level). Order of skills by priority: Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking
  2. Comprehensible output hypothesis by Merrill Swain
    • A speaker’s output assists language acquisition in 3 ways:
      • Noticing function: through attempts to output, the speaker realizes what they don’t know how to express
      • Hypothesis-testing function: what the speaker outputs implicitly conveys his or her assumption / understanding about the language
      • Meta-linguistic function: the speaker’s reflections (and hence learning) of the target language
  3. Dual comprehension by Wolfgang Butzkamm
    • Effective comprehension of L2 must take place at 2 levels: meaning of the phrase as well as literal translation (“mirroring”) to L2. This is necessary since it would expedite language transfer from L1 to L2.
    •  The use of the native language in literal translation to L2 and in aiding understanding of L2’s linguistic features is therefore highly encouraged (Note that this is in contrary to the Comprehensible Input Hypothesis)
  4. Skills-based theories of language acquisition
    • Learning a foreign language is a skill, just like any other skills. Hence, it requires practice
    • Stages of language learning in ACT: declarative knowledge (facts), procedural knowledge (how), autonomy (fluency)

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