A TEASOL Assignment by Prae Kamonchanok.PraeKamonchanokFceBkCrSm

With the global expanding of English language as a world medium communication, a large number of countries where English is not their first or official language are trying to add this global language to the mainstream educational curriculum.


These countries not only aim to increase the quality of their population, they also want to become the leader on economy and innovation. Therefore, education seems to take an important role in improving children’s both learning and living skills. No matter children are monolingual, bilingual or trilingual, if English is not their innate language, they need to learn English as an additional language (EAL) known as EAL/D learners. It is interesting to know why EAL/D learners learn and develop English differently in similar educational policy. It is questioned as to how the environment that surrounds them such as teachers, parents and friends affect their language developing and learning. Thai educational system can be an example of embedding English as a compulsory subject in mainstream classes. Although the national curriculum was changed in 2002 for Thais the new generation have been learning English since their year one primary mainstream classrooms, it does not seem to be enough when students learn English about four hours a week (….). Moreover, it is common that a primary teacher takes over a class and teaches most of the subjects that students need to learn in a day. Therefore, some of the non-English speaking teachers might know only general concepts of English but actually students need very effective methods and positive environment very effective methods and positive environment to create positive attitude on English learning.

Actually, the first step of learning English is the most important stage, namely; teachers need to have effective strategies to make English lessons interesting and make them love English. It makes sense that if they hate English, they will not try to develop themselves in any skills. The “constructivism/ interactionism” is one of the three language theoretical theories, which emphasizes linguistic environment on language learners (Lightbown and Spada, 1993, pp.14). This paper first explains the four factors on Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theories that impact additional language learning: Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), Comprehensible Input, Comprehensible Output and Common Underlying Proficiency (CUP). Secondly, the three learning theoretical frameworks are mentioned and the constructivism will be specified as the most effective approach. Lastly, how the four SLA theories work with the chosen theoretical framework in mainstream classrooms are analyzed.


Part I: Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theories on additional language learning

Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) refer to learning a new language as a second or addition in a school context (Cummins, 2008, 72). Gibbons (1998, p.100) implies that a EAL/D student’s academic level cannot be achieve outside a classroom context because language for classrooms that use lexical and grammatical complexity is not likely to happen in peer-communicative playground conversations. This SLA theory can be considered as one of social constructivism framework because EAL/D learners need to have interactions with the others to develop their colloquial conversation to a more academic language (Coleman, week 3, 2013). Coleman (week 3, 2013) exemplifies a longitudinal process of a first language boy from birth to 3 year-old who has learned to talk. He has an interaction with his/her parent when he has started learning a language, and needs time to develop a word such as water for a year. This seems to work in the same way of developing the mode continuum in a school context when EAL/D learners start learning English. Hertzberg, (2012, p.50) draws a line of the mode continuum that EAL/D learners start achieving language from face-to-face conversation start achieving language from face-to-face conversation between two people, then working in a small group and whole class discussion respectively. Therefore, their new language is developing from the most spoken-like language to the most written-like language along the mode continuum. It might not be able to say exact time that an EAL/D student can move along the mode continuum from colloquial language to academic language because each individual is different such as intellectual ability, age of begin learning and surrounding environment. Cummins (2008, p.72) reveals his study that his immigrant students experimental group has spent five to seven years to reach average academic aspects of English.

Comprehensible Input is know as i+1 acquisition theory referring to what you have already known (i) and plus a bit more new knowledge (1) (Coleman, week3, 2013). Krashen’s study (1986, p.60) exposes the way learners acquire linguistics acquisition in a foreign language that both children and adults acquire the new language’s linguistic features in a similar order. That is, the meaning of the texts is acquired earlier while morphemes such as using singular verbs after third-person singular subject are acquired later. Input in acquisition of a non-primary language is motivated by the assumption that all learners have a limited capacity for processing some knowledge (Han & Peverly, 2007, p.17). The findings showed that learners tried to dump information in their memories to make room for new incoming information. However, some misunderstandings still occurred when they have learned a second language; especially when they came from different language background. especially when they came from different language background.  VanPattern (2007, p.115) stated that acquisition could not happen if comprehension did not occur although it could not guarantee that acquisition was correct. In his study, on the other hand, all participants knew at least two languages, which can be assumed that they have already experienced the second language acquisition. The results of the experiment showed that the participants who are absolute beginners recognized the form rather than the meaning on the target language (Norwegian) because they have no prior experience about it. The results show that they got higher scores in gap-filling task (46 percent) than in the recall task (16 percent). Therefore, when they learned a new language, they tried to find the similarities of grammatical structure between this new language and the languages they have already experienced. Although Chomsky (1957, p.21) stated that English is an infinite state language because of the construction of its terminal string and its structure, he implied that the similarity of English and other languages is the subject always comes before the predicate in declarative sentences.

It is common that learners understand that “output” is the “outcome/product” of learning something. Swain (2007, p.471) states that Comprehensible output not only refers to the learning outcomes but it also includes what the learners have learned to achieve those outcomes. She explains that L2 learners comprehend the meaning of a text before attempting to produce accurate grammatical production at the end (Gass & Mackey (2007, p.179). An example shows the case of an L2 learner who asked a native English speaker about something that had happened with a boat. The native speaker did not understand what the L2 student asked the first time; therefore the L2 learner asked again by changing some grammar such as preposition and key words that convey the same meaning (Ibid, p.180). Swain (2007, p.472) implies that ‘comprehensible output’ seems to rely on ‘comprehensible input’ to produce more effective outcomes. An example in a French immersion class shows that students who had learned French as a second language (FSL) were less cooperative in class and did not attempt to speak French while they cooperated much more in English lessons where their native tongue (English) was the medium to communicate did not attempt to speak French while they cooperated much more in English. A reason is because the teacher in the French class did not push FSL students to communicate French in a grammatically correct form.. However, Swain (2007, p.472) states that the abundance comprehension on input is the initial version of comprehensible output.

Common Underlying Proficiency (CUP) is another model of transferring knowledge from native language conceptual knowledge to the second language acquisition. Second learners refer to learners who have already acknowledged one language, and it is believed that they are far more advantaged in learning another language. Cummins (2005, p.6) stated that CUP is an independent model that relates to common sense concept that L1 learners experienced their first language by acquiring skills and metalinguistic knowledge, which can be applicable to second language acquisition. Therefore, it is important that parents and caretakers help their children to acquire and develop the first language to strengthen comprehensible input in the second language. Comps et.al (200, p.11) connects the idea of Cummins’ CUP Iceberg theory that L1 and L2 literacy skills and language abilities are in the same part of the brain, which are transferable. Therefore, learners who perform skills such as literacy and thinking well in their L1, there usually perform well in their L2.

Part II: Learning Theoretical Perspectives on Language Acquisition

Three language learning frameworks; innatism, behaviorism and interactionism show different perspective in learning a language. Innatism is compared to the development of a child’s walking that does not need to be taught (Lightbown & Spada 1993, p.7). This learning as a primary language is compared to Language Acquisition Device ‘hard wire’ that needs only input to activate (Coleman, week3). Therefore, it might refer to a native child who knows how some language structure works without telling him. Behaviorism is another perspective of learning a new language by imitating and practicing and habit formatting to form communication formulaic expressions and words (Coleman, week3). The first two views seem to occur by first language children or young second language learners themselves that do not need environmental interaction to modify their knowledge.

However, because of globalization, it is often the case that EAL/D learners migrate or choose English-speaking countries such as Australia, England and Canada to settle or continue their education. Some of them believe that learning English in an English speaking country can push them to learn faster because of the English environment. Therefore, Interactionism/ Constructivism seems to be the most effective position to help EAL/D Therefore, Interactionism/ Constructivism seems to be the most effective position to help EAL/D by exposure to an unfamiliar language. Lightbown & Spada (1993, p.14) emphasize responding to mistaken cues children made by repeating the utterance in a grammatically correct form. This method gradually increases the children’s level of processing English, and is called “modified interaction” or addressing speech to children (Lightbown & Spada 1993, p.14). The case of Jim who was born with deaf parents and watching television was the only way he has learned language in his early years as he was being raised. He was first measured for language capability when he was 3 years and 9 months that showed him as below the age average in all language aspects (Ibid, p.15). However, his colloquial language gradually improved when he started communicating and having conversations with adults. On the other hand, his younger brother who was tested when he was at the same age as Jim’s first test did not show unusual results in any language aspects. Lightbown & Spada (1993, p.15) suggests that Jim and his younger brother grew up in different linguistic environment, namely; Jim is his brother’s conversational partner. Coleman (week 3, 2013) suggests that language is co-construct; therefore, giving a response, feedback, recasting and rephrasing are interactive strategies to build successful communication.


Part III: Making Interactionism / Constructivism in the four  SLA Learning Frameworks

This part is going to discuss the ‘BICS and CALPS’, ‘comprehensible Input’, ‘comprehensible output’ and Common Underlying Proficiency in constructivism contexts. Constructivism is known as environment factors surround EAL/D learners to achieve another language. Lightbown & Spada (2006, p.43) claims that when L2 learners face with harder concepts to understand, they should explore those concepts by interacting and working with other L2 speakers to help each other reach the comprehension rather than simplifying those concepts to them. This comprehensible mechanic is called “modified interaction.” Consequently, the best way to help EAL/D learners explore a new language under the four SLA learning theories is creating a positive environment for them learning from facial expressions, body language and visual clues

Comps et al. (2000, p.3) summaries Cummins’ BICS and CALP theory that is developing from social language to academic language. Because social language means learning by context clues such as learning from facial expressions, body language and visual clues; therefore, EAL/D learners can achieve social language from social activities and media such as learning through informal conversation, play and television. After they achieve Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills (BICS), which is understood as a verbal fluency in about two years, they need to move along the mode continuum to achieve Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALPS), which is believed to take about five to seven years (Cummins, 2008, p.72). Comps et. al (2000, p.5) reveals that CALP is abstract knowledge such as learning to compare and contrast, explaining and evaluating. This academic knowledge can be found in a more formal setting such as a classroom. Moreover, Cummins (2000, p.24) argues that to learn another language, it will be more effective if L1 learners master in their native tongue’s academic level, which they also need at least five years exposure.

Long (1983, 1985 cited in Swain 2007, p.472) implies that L2 learners usually need clarification and comprehension checking to comprehend the input. While input seems to be emphasized on reading and listening and output is more focused on writing and speaking. VanPattern (p.115, 2008) implies that comprehension always occur before acquisition; for example, before L2 learners doing a filling in a gap exercise, they need to understand the text first. Therefore, reading an actual text to develop a comprehension always happens before doing an exercise. This leads to the outcomes, which are called ‘comprehensible output’.



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An Editors aside for aspiring teachers.

Delpit (1995) ran an experiment where she asked teachers to communicate in a dialect instead of their English and the results were the same as above in that the teachers started playing up and either being difficult or silent (uncooperative) they later stated how difficult it was to think and discuss in a foreign dialect. Similar to your French students above.

Teachers need to be aware of how difficult it can be for the students learning a foreign language. When students are not in an environment where they feel safe and free to express in the foreign language. If the language use is with continual stops and corrections this can create a feeling of worthlesness and be responsible for generating behaviour issues. The behaviour issues will mostly be to protect there own self worth so as to not 'lose face'.

This of course can be extrapolated to teaching English to students whose English is based in a different social grouping or a language deprived environment.

Delpit. Lisa. (1995) Other Peoples Children. The New Press New York. [Last viewed on line 28/09/2013]



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