they have learned their native language with apparent ease, and by the time they arc 6 years old they have brought it to a level of fluency that is the envy of non-native speakers. After around 6 months. their child begins to function sUCessfully in the new setting and at a linguistic level to which the parents cannot hope aspire, even when they have been studying the language seriously for to a similar period of time. this is not an approach that will make it possible to bring languages to every child. There is, however, both linguistic and psychological theory to help explain children’s seemingly effortless second-language acquisition and to provide insights that can make the classroom a better place for xuch language acquisition to take place. SECOND LANGUAGE ADQUISITION
The children are in a setting in which they are surrounded by language that is made meaningful because of the context and because of the way teachers speak to them. Krashen has popularized the idea of comprehensible input, the amount or level of language that the student can fully understand, plus just a little more. them when they use the target language, it may well be because they are using the target language at a level that is too far beyond the child’s current ability to understand.
In a classroom designed to encourage second-language acquisition, there is an emphasis on communication: 1. A somewhat slower rate of speech (still with the normal rate of speech for that speaker, but at the lower end of the range). 2. More distinct pronunciation 3. Shorter,less complex sentences. 4. More rephrasing and repetition.5. More frequent meaning checks with the listener to make sure that he or she understands.6. Use of gesture and visual reinforcement.7. Greater use of concrete referents.
8. Scaffolding. The teacher surrounds the learner with language, allowing the student to be a participant in dialogue.
According Krashen and colleagues, as well as other researchers, language acquitosition takes place most effectively when the input is meaningful and interesting to the learner, when it is comprehensible, and when it is not grammatically sequenced. Meaningfulness and interest for the learner may well be the most significant factors of all. This suggests to the teacher
that early attention must focus on providing students with the ability to communicate messages such as, “I don’t understand,” “Could you please repeat that?,” “Did you mean?,”Could you please speak more slowly?,” and so forth. COGNITIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LEARNER
Just as second-language acquisition research has helped us better understand the language development of the students in our classrooms, cognitive psychologists have given us information about learning in general. Information about the brain can lead us to better ways to reach our students, and to make our time with them more effective. Multiple
intelligences and learning styles models have been developed by psychologists and educators in order to assist the teacher in planning for a whole classroom of learners whose learning preferences and strengths may be different from those of the teacher-and they are certainly not identical with those of each other.
Emotions Many researchers have described the importance of emotion in the learning process and in the construction of meaning. Emotions and thoughts cannot be separated, and thus emotions have a great effect on all learning. One of Caine and Caine’s (1997) guiding principles states that emotions are critical to the brain’s patterning. LEARNING STYLES
The individual learners in foreign language classes differ in many ways, at every level of instruction. Some students need to touch, or move, in order to learn. Some students benefit most from visuals and teachers gestures when they are learning or reviewing language; others won’t feel confident of the information until they see it written out; still others, with poor vision or a brain that processes visual input poorly, don’t benefit from either.
IS YOUNGER BETTER? Two central ideas which lie behind
the popular assumption that ‘younger is better’ are: 1 the widely-held view that since young children learn their mother tongue so quickly and effectively,they will be able to pick up a foreign language in the same way,without ever having to make any real effort. 2 the concept of a critical or sensitive period, an idea developed around the mid-20th century of a ‘magic’period in children’s lives (usually identified as up