Second Language Education Leaders

Second Language Education Leaders

As ESL/EFL teachers, we should have the needs and interests of our students at the forefront of everything we do in the classroom.  Therefore, we should find it fitting to know the basic concepts supporting methods of English as a Second Language/English as a Foreign Language instruction and recognize leaders in the field of second language education. 

Two major leaders that come to mind in this field of language education are Dr. Stephen Krashen and Dr. Virginia Collier.

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Dr. Krashen has a number of hypothesis such as Acquisition vs. Learning, Comprehensible Input, and the Affective Filter that have greatly impacted the study of language learning and acquisition (American College of Education, 2017). Krashen’s Acquisition vs. Learning Hypothesis says children tend to feel the correctness of a second language rather than applying learned rules, as they acquire a new language. Acquisition results in oral fluency while learning normally does not.  As teachers, we need to model all activities so young learners understand the expectations and correlate the language to the body language and gestures.

How Do I Plan Lessons for my English Students?

Krashen’s Comprehensible Input Hypothesis tells us that teachers need to present content and information in the target language at the students' comprehensive level in their first language.  If they don't have any previous experience with this concept, they will not be successful in learning it in English.  For instance, if a student has yet to master how to tell time in their native tongue, they will not be able to do it in English.  Krashen’s Affective Filter Hypothesis explains that students' anxiety levels can create a block in language acquisition or learning.  We must create a warm, welcoming environment and good rapport with the learners by waiting until they are ready to speak and create language.

We can evaluate our lesson planning with Dr. Krashen's theories by asking questions such as: Do my students have an understanding of these concepts in their first language? Beyond the language barrier, are there specific issues my students are anxious about, and how can I alleviate this?

Dr. Collier's Prism Model addresses how language, cognitive, academic, and social/cultural development work together in the learning process of language learners (Thomas & Collier, 1997). Language Development includes the linguistic process of developing oral and written skills in the native and second languages includes formal teaching and acquisition of the language systems. Cognitive Development is the natural, subconscious process that occurs developmentally from birth,  thought processes are built through interacting with others. Academic Development includes the academic work in specific content areas that expands the vocabulary and understanding of the target language through meaningful content. The Social and Cultural Process is what is happening all around the students and in their past, present and future; it is the social and cultural process and patterns affect the learning process.  All four aspects must be considered and be working together in order for the students to effectively learn.

By measuring our lessons against Dr. Collier's model, we should remember to incorporate reading, listening, speaking and writing activities into the lesson, require the students to use logical thinking, give ample opportunities to practice in order to increase understanding and learning, and have students work in pairs and small groups.

Having a better understanding of Dr. Krashen's and Dr. Collier's theories regarding language learning will help us create lessons that are better tailored to meet our ESL/EFL students' needs.

Want to know more about language learning theories and planning lessons to effectively teach ESL/EFL students?  Sign up today for one of our 4-week TEFL courses in Costa Rica!

What are the Recommended Methods & Approaches for teaching English as a Foreign Language?

American College of Education. (2017). Karshen's Hypotheses.

Thomas & Collier. (1997). School effectiveness for language minority students.

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