English Language Acquisition

Summary Statement

Based on the results of a six-item questionnaire – most SLPs are uncomfortable assessing ELL and limited English proficient (LEP) students (Kimble, 2013).

The SLP must be competent in the L1 to discern differences in dialect between the L1 and the L2. This will aid the SLP in assessment and accurately determining the child's language proficiency (Iowa Department of Education, 2003).

Suggested Strategies in the Classroom

  • Hands-on
  • Use body language when communicating with student
  • Consistent vocabulary, initially
  • Give short, straightforward instructions (piece meal)
  • Provide illustrations to compliment text initially
  • Label (e.g. classroom equipment)
  • Cultural competence - understanding culture of the child (affects pragmatics, etc)

(Lopez-Valdez & Reed, 1989)

Suggested Strategies in the Home

It is important for SLPs to be culturally competent and understand that in some cultural settings, the parent's role in their child's education may vary from American standards. However, if the parents are involved, the SLP and the IEP team can recommend at home:

  • Parents read to their child in their L1
  • Parents speak to their child in their L1
  • Parents solidify the child's knowledge of their L1 alphabet
  • Increasing the child's L1 phonological awareness (strong link between this and L2 reading)
  • Continue developing child's L1 vocabulary

(Connecticut Administrators of Programs for English Language Learners, 2011)

Signs of a Language Difference

  • Foreign accent
  • Code switching/mixing, i.e., alternating between two languages
  • Interference, i.e., borrowing from the first language
  • Atypical prosody
  • Fossilization, i.e., persistent errors in the second language
  • Semantically and grammatically atypical utterances

(Iowa Department of Education, 2003)