I’m Young Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, I Can Learn a Second Language! Melissa Douglas Karen Shivers Sharon Stripland
The topic for our project focuses on how individual differences affect the success and failure of SLA. Different factors that might affect learning success would be students’ age, personality and learning styles.
AGE…. Overall, the general beliefs of the research dealing with age are that the L1 is an innate ability. Learners at a very young age do not make errors in basic phonological and grammatical operations and have acquired all the sounds needed for language by the age of 6 months. If more than one language is learned simultaneously with the L1 there does not appear to be a problem with L2 acquisition. After a period of time, the language pattern is set for the L1 therefore making acquisition of the L2 more difficult.
Personality…. Beliefs concerning personality deal with motivation and social context. The reason for learning could be to pass a class, to be able to communicate when traveling to another country, or for professional context. What you learn in a language depends on what you need to effectively communicate either verbally or in written expression. Fossilization occurs as a result of only learning what is necessary to fulfill the obligation.
Learning Styles….. Beliefs concerning learning style indicate that when instruction matches the preferred learning style, L2 learners have a higher rate of success than when it does not. Learners with a visual preference make up the largest group, followed by auditory and then kinesthetic, although many learners can incorporate more than one modality when learning. Younger learners show more preference for kinesthetic and tactile modalities.
“Learning styles appear to be especially significant due to the way they mediate between personal characteristics and learning outcomes. Specifically, it is believed that matching learning conditions to learning style preferences leads to more uniform success than providing a single type of instruction to a diverse group.” Tight, D. G. (2010). Perceptual learning style matching and L2 vocabulary acquisition. Language Learning, 60(4), 792-833. Most of the previous research on this subject supports the author’s findings. And the research says…
What’s Age Got To Do With It… Munoz & Singleton agreed there are numerous variables included with age that affect the learning of an L2. Munoz & Singleton did not agree with traditionally accepted ideas that classical language areas are not available for learning of an L2 after a critical age period. Factors other than maturational should be thought of more seriously even though there is still some proof to age-related effects in L2 acquisition. Age-related factors in L2 should be interpreted in the same light as age-related factors in other domains of learning. If the association between L2 attainment research and Critical Period Hypothesis issues were relaxed, it would open the way to a richer perspective on L2 attainment. More longitudinal research is needed that includes real time data in a detailed manner that includes relationships among onset variables, a full array of L2 learners’ experience, contexts, attitudes and orientations, and L2 development across the life-span. Munoz, C. & Singleton, D. (2011). A critical review of age-related research on L2 ultimate attainment. Language Teaching, 44, pp 1-35.
Looking beyond Learning styles: Groundbreaking research found that “neurons are constantly being born, particularly in the learning and memory centers”. Lombardi, J. (2008). Beyond Learning Styles: Brain-Based Research and English Language Learners. Clearing House, 81(5), 219-222 Prior brain researchers believed humans were born with all the brain cells and neurons they would ever have.
“Results showed a significant relationship between language learning strategy and the introverted/extroverted personality types.” When thinking about how personalities affect second language acquisition, there are several reasons for failure. “One reason could be individual differences, uses of learning strategies and personality types.” Mei-Ling, C., & Li-Mei, H. (2012). Personality type, perceptual style preferences, and strategies for learning English as a foreign language. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal. 40(9), 1501-1510. Research didn’t seem to change much on this topic.
Language Learning….. • Imitation is a tool for L2 learners, not a universal characteristic. • Parents focus more on meaning rather than correcting how children speak. • A wide variety of intellectual abilities can be used for successful L2, it is not just based on high intelligence or IQ. • Environments that support, stimulate and engage L2 learners in regard to their age, interests, and cultural backgrounds, enhance motivation and lead to greater success. • Early age acquisition of L2 normally leads to that learner being indistinguishable from native speakers, however, more importantly is a strong foundation in the early learner’s first language. • Lightbown, P.M., & Spada, N. (Eds). (2006). Popular ideas about language learning revisited. • Oxford University Press.
Language Learning….. • Reading new language is a great strategy but readers need to know at least 90% or more of the meaning of the words in the text. • Learners should be able to pronounce language varieties that will permit them to engage in communicative interaction with others. • Learners should be provided with an opportunity to discover how different language features compare and contrast in normal language settings instead of presenting one structure or rule at a time. • If errors are persistent they should be corrected but non-persistent errors are a natural part of learning. • Lightbown, P.M., & Spada, N. (Eds). (2006). Popular ideas about language learning revisited. • Oxford University Press.
Spada & Lightbown • * Learning styles • “Other factors such as individual learning styles and previous learning languages can also lead to different preferences for learning.” • * Age • “Outside the classroom, in environments where they are completely immersed in the target language, very young learners often acquire L2 proficiency with little or no Form-Focused Instruction (FFI).”
Ellis • * Learning Styles • “In particular, learning will be more successful when the instruction is matched to students’ particular aptitude for learning and when the students are motivated.” • “Teachers can cater to variation in the nature of their students’ aptitude by adopting a flexible teaching approach involving a variety of learning activities.”
Fillmore & Snow • * Age • “Textbooks on child development often claim that by age five or six children have already mastered the grammar of their native language, and that although they expand their vocabularies in school and add literacy skills, for the most part children have acquired language before they go to school.” • * Personality • “It is clear that many of the challenges we face in education stem from the fact that ours is a diverse society. Students in our schools come from virtually every corner of the planet, and they bring to school diverse outlooks, languages, cultural beliefs and behaviors, and background experiences.”
McLaughlin, B. (Snow, D.) * Personality “Some children are outgoing and sociable and learn the second language quickly because they want to be like their English-speaking peers. They do not worry about mistakes, but use limited resources to generate input from native speakers.” “In traditional, teacher-oriented classrooms, children who are “active listeners” have been found to be more successful than highly sociable children.”
Video Link to Lesson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6lrnAZxjiQ
Lesson: Problem Solving Involving Variables EX: Susan said she is 3 years less than twice her sister’s age. If her sister is 17, how old is Susan? Teacher can use the 5E model to teach the lesson. *Engage-Real world example of an interesting problem Put students into groups to brainstorm different ways to solve problem *Explore-Use think-pair-share to discuss different perspectives on solving the problem *Explain-Have each group present their findings to the class *Elaborate-Have students discuss using unknown variables to help solve future problems *Evaluate-Have students create and solve another problem where there is an unknown variable
Possible Challenges and Interventions for ELLs • *Academic Vocabulary- • Reinforce the brick and mortar terms necessary to perform the tasks. • Explain and scaffold the language, and underline problem solving words that might confuse students. • *Written expression of problem solving steps- • Help students with a sentence starter to aid them in presenting their findings to the class. • Demonstrate to students through visual models how to work problem (draw a picture, use a table, etc.). • *Understanding reasonableness- • Students may have difficulty explaining and understanding the reasonableness of problems. • Use questioning techniques to aid in understanding and justification of answers.
References Fillmore, L. & Snow, C. (2000). What teachers need to know about language. Clearing House on Language and Linguistics. U.S. Department of Education Educational Research and Improvement, pp. 1-41. Lightbown, P.M. & Spada, N. (Eds). (2006). Popular ideas about language learning revisited. In How Languages are Learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lombardi, J. (2008). Beyond Learning Styles: Brain-Based Research and English Language Learners. Clearing House, 81(5), 219-222 Munoz, C. & Singleton, D. (2011). A critical review of age-related research on L2 ultimate attainment. Language Teaching, 44, pp. 1-35. Mei-Ling, C. & Li-Mei, H. (2012). Personality type, perceptual style preferences, and strategies for learning English as a foreign language. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal. 40(9), 1501-1510.
References (continued) Saville-Troike, M. (2012). Introducing second language acquisition. New York: Cambridge University Press. 218. Tight, D. G. (2010). Perceptual learning style matching and L2 vocabulary acquisition. Language Learning, 60(4), 792-833.