Second language acquisition is the process, by which individuals learn a second language. A second language is always a language different from the individual’s first language. It deals with language acquisition and understanding among people. Researchers assert that second language acquisition is related to psychology, education, and cognitive psychology. Second language acquisition could involve heritage language learning but not bilingualism. According to researchers, bilingualism is seen as an end to the learning process. The learning of a language is considered a continuous process that has no end. Several researches have been conducted to determine the means, through which learners acquire the given second languages. The researches have revealed that the learners’ first languages affect the acquisition of the second language to a great deal. For instance, the first languages of learners have affected the acquisition of second languages such as English. The acquisition of second languages has had various influences on the teaching of English for specific and general purposes. Research indicates that the acquisition of second language is simpler among children compared to adults. Children have the capacity to memorize more words in the second language compared to an adult. It is also believed that the learners of a second language do not reach a higher level of competency compared to the original speakers of the language.
This paper explicates the various findings of second language acquisition on learning and their influences on the teaching of English for specific and general purposes.
Recent research into SLA research on instructed/classrooms SLL
Theoretical approaches refer to the findings, relating to behaviorism. According to research, second language learning in classrooms is determined by an individual’s behavior. Firstly, researchers have asserted that second languages are adopted through imitation. A learner tries to copy from other people by this process. According to Basturkmen (2006), learners have acquired second languages through copying from the original speakers. They copy the spoken words and gradually try to relate them with the words in their first languages. Researchers assert that imitation is vital because it helps learners keep pace with the learning of the new languages.
Researchers estimate that practice is paramount in the classroom learning of second languages. Gass & Selinker (2008) assert that practice is believed to perfect on the acquisition of the second language. Practice is achieved through continuous pronunciation of the various words of the second language. Learners gain more by practicing on the new words that they learn every day. In addition, learners could practice by looking up the words in the dictionary. This would enhance a deeper understanding and memory of challenging words.
Another vital finding is that second languages are quickly learnt through reinforcement. This is the process of going the extra mile in the acquisition of the respective languages. Reinforcement involves matters such as taking up extra exercises to improve the speed at which languages are adopted among individuals. Doughty & Long (2005) observe that reinforcement would ensure that the learners finally connect sentences to make sense out of the languages.
Habit formation in the process of classroom learning also plays a vital role in the mastery of the languages. Research intimates that learners who make a habit out of their daily experiences in the learning of languages gradually develop a better command of the language. Learners master the second languages more by practicing the new words they get to learn each day. Habit formation is vital in developing the ease to speak the languages that students are taught.
This approach considers the knowledge of a language to be different from other types of knowledge. According to research, learners have the capacity to grasp languages compared to any other form of knowledge. The linguistic approach is mainly perceived to include typological universal in the normal communication. Research intimates that typological universals refer to the principles, applicable to all the languages in the world. From the linguistic approach, researchers have found out that the inter-languages of the speaker must always comply with the established global principles. Lightbown & Spada (1998) report that this is vital because it would make the language be universally accepted. Researchers articulate that typological universals could affect the development of languages in the entire world. This would be because of the initial interference, caused by the other languages.
This approach focuses on the linguistic competence of a person. It measures the level, at which an individual is able to learn and develop a great command of other languages. It does not consider the processes, through which an individual learns. This approach does not take into consideration the fact that universal language applies to everyone in the entire world. According to research, only first language speakers share universal grammar. It is believed that the second language speakers do not share in the universal grammar because they are not the original speakers of a given language.
This approach focuses on the mental process in the acquisition of a given language. The mind is a vital contributor to the acquisition of various languages. Researchers assert that an individual must have a stronger mental capacity if he is to learn other languages. This would enable him memorize the words that are spoken to him. From the findings, research indicates that second languages are mainly used for general-purpose learning of the brain. It would not be used for specific purposes because it is not the speakers’ original language. Research further intimates that learners temporarily store the second languages in the short-term memory, as the process of learning continues. According to Jordan (2004), this would be helpful in further boosting understandability and memory of the specific words, used in the language.
According to research, learners gradually transfer the knowledge of their second languages into the long-term memory. This is the manufacturers of the information, thus, creating a permanent store for learners. The words that are later spoken are derived from this vital store. The findings also indicate that second languages are spoken courtesy of this memory. It facilitates easier talking among individuals and easier translation of the intended meaning. In addition, research asserts that the processes of second language acquisition could be split into micro-processes and macro-processes. Researchers intimate that micro-processes include the working memory, integration, restructuring, and attention. Towell & Hawkins (1994) observe that all these processes facilitate faster acquisition and understanding of the second languages. Thus, learners are able to memorize these languages more by observing these necessary steps. Macro-processes involve the distinction between incidental and intentional learning. It also involves the difference between implicit and explicit learning in the classroom environment.
This approach also asserts that a learner’s mastery of a second language could be assessed by the quality of speech, he is able to prepare in the language. Learners could be tested by the delivery of given assignments. According to research, learners should be regularly tested on speech delivery, to ensure that they deliver the appropriate speeches, using the correct vocabularies, learnt from the second language. The factors that are majorly considered in this category are the accuracy of a speech and the fluency, applied in the delivery of a given speech. The ability of a learner to understand the second language would be ultimately determined.
This is a mind theory and not a general theory that focuses on the acquisition of languages. Ellis asserts that, “it is important to recognize that this paradigm, despite the label socio-cultural, does not seek to inquire how learners acquire cultural values.” It is mainly based on the mindset of the leaner in the process of trying to acquire a newer language. The vital finding from the theory is that the cultural aspect of the leaner shapes the rate, at which the language is acquired. This means that the habits, acquired by the leaner, are vital in determining his mastery of the language. In addition, the continued interactions with the actual speakers quicken the speed, at which a given language is adopted and mastered. Therefore, the finding encourages learners to be enthusiastic and develop habits that would enable them acquire and master the given languages at a faster rate. All this would lead to faster spreading of the languages among learners, while in and out of class. This is because of the thorough language considerations kept in mind.
Influences of SLA research on English for General Purpose
Linguistic Approaches and their influence on EGP
Linguistic approaches are the principles that are applicable to all languages in the world. The influence of the linguistic approach on English for general purpose is that it incorporates similar vocabularies across all the languages. They make individuals, using English in the general course of communication, to express their ideas as required by the principles. Any one, going against the principles, is automatically out of the communication aims.
Universal Grammar and EGP
It influences the speed, at which an individual is able to understand the spoken word from other people. This is because of its ability to measure the competence of an individual in the process of acquiring a given language. Research asserts that it would also help eliminate poor construction of sentences among individuals as they communicate, using the English language.
Cognitive approaches and their influences on EGP
Cognitive approaches focus on the ability of the mind to acquire a given language. Cognitive approaches enable individuals to interact with others because of the ease, at which one is able to grasp the English language in general purpose English. Individuals are able to memorize the English before applying it in the given settings. Richards & Rodgers (2001) point out that this is vital because it has helped boost interactions, using English for general purposes. In addition, it is instrumental in boosting the ability of a learner to communicate in front of others in the form of a speech. This means that a leaner could easily write a speech and deliver it with confidence.
Socio-cultural approaches and their influences on EGP
These approaches focus on the mindset of a leaner. It has had several impacts on the teaching of English for general purposes. According to research, it has enabled learners develop an interest in the learning of the language by cultivating the will to learn in them. Lightbown & Partsy (2003) observe that they are able to learn new words and later use them in several English applications.
Influences of SLA on English for specific purposes
English for specific purposes is the English that is designated to be used in particular subjects or places.
Linguistic approach and their influence
Linguistic approaches reinforce the adoption of the specific words to be used in a particular setting. This is because they separate the knowledge of a language from the knowledge of other materials. Therefore, the learner is in a better position to grasp the specific terms, passed on to him.
Universal Grammar and ESP
Universal grammar promotes the application of common terms in the entire world in English for a specific purpose. The terms, used to refer to particular items, are similar all over the world. This is commonly referred to as conventional terms and everyone in the world should observe them. In addition, universal grammar makes it simpler for individuals to understand the common terms as used across countries and languages.
Cognitive approaches and their influence on ESP
According to research, cognitive approaches enable an individual to memorize the common terms as used in the entire world. This would be vital because an individual is able to learn newer terms and effectively apply them.
Socio-cultural approaches and their effects on ESP
Socio-cultural approaches would help in the development of a reading character among learners. This is because they have to master specific terms to apply in the given settings.
In conclusion, second language acquisition refers to the process, by which an individual learns another different language separate from his first language. Second language adoption is simpler among children as compared to adults because of their high mental power that is able to grasp ideas. Second language acquisition has become a common feature in the entire world as individuals yearn to learn other languages. The trend is picking up in many countries of the world. English for general purpose is the English that is taught with an aim for general conversations. It involves individuals, using the language in the normal process of communication. It could be influenced by approaches such as cognitive. The approach makes it simpler for learners to confidently stand and address others in forms of speeches and other communication mechanisms. English for a specific purpose is the English that is studied with a purpose of using it in a particular subject.