Second Language Acquisition

ESLS 5301

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Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for placing us in the perfect place which is part of your perfect plan. I am going to choose to shine for You right here, this very day. Amen.

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How Languages are Learned

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Chapter 1: Language Learning in Early Childhood

The first three years (p. 6-7)

  • Read the section on pp. 6-7 on the first three years of first language acquisition.
  • On a post-it note jot down 1-3 ideas that stuck with you from your reading.
  • Choose an accountable discussion card from the table and be ready to share your ideas.
  • Use inside/outside circle or fold the line to share with a partner.

Principles of Language Learning and Teaching

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Chapter 2: First Language Acquisition

Three Positions in First Language Acquisition

  • Select one of the three positions in first language acquisition:
-Behavioristic Position (pp. 23 - 26)

- Nativist Position (pp. 26 - 30)

- Functional Position (pp. 30 - 33)

Issues in First Language Acquisition

  • Review some of the issues in first language acquisition (p. 33).
  • Complete the Guided Notes for at least 3 issues.

Let's reflect!

  • Have you ever had to learn a second language? Share an example of an instance when your comprehension exceeded your production ability? Or vice-versa?
  • Read p. 47-48 (L1-Acquisition-Inspired Methods).
  • In what way did Gouin's Series Method reflect some ideas about language acquisition that are now current more than a hundred years later? What aspects of the Series Method and the Direct Method are still effective today?

Additional web resources

Chapter 1: Language learning in early childhood

  1. Behaviorism meets sit-com

    This brief clip (2:06 minutes) from the Big Bang Theory shows a humorous interpretation of positive reinforcement.

  2. Genie

    This is one of a number of links that will take you to information about 'Genie', the child who was isolated from human company and did not begin to learn language until she was 13 years old.

  3. Early language

    Go to and search for 'Deb Roy' to hear about 'the birth of a word'. Roy recorded his child's vocalization and the environment in which he was growing up in order to trace the emergence of early language.

  4. An innatist perspective

    Go to and search for 'Steven Pinker' to hear how the innatist perspective can be used to explain the development of language.

  5. The infant linguist

    Go to and search for 'Patricia Kuhl' to hear about research on the ability of infants to make fine phonetic discriminations.

  6. Developmental progress

Language Learning Experience Entry #2 (p. 49)

  • Read the guidelines for Entry #2.
  • Answer all of the questions and post on Blackboard by September 15th.