SLA-Speak Series: Second Language Acquisition Theory


SLA-Speak Series: Second Language Acquisition Theory

As a language educator, I find myself talking to others about SLA (Second Language Acquisition). I also find that I use terms, definitions, and acronyms that are unfamiliar to the other person, or perhaps the other person has a different idea what the term means. So, I thought it would be a good time to start the “SLA-Speak Series” and unpack some terms and ideas (in an uncomplicated manner). We’ll start with SLA.

What is SLA theory?

Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theory is a framework developed by linguist Stephen Krashen that explains how we learn a new language and what factors influence the process.

Krashen believes that there are two ways to acquire a new language. The first way is through formal learning, like studying grammar rules and vocabulary in a classroom. The second way is through natural exposure to the language, such as listening to native speakers or reading books in the new language.

He argues that the most effective way to learn a language is through natural exposure because our brains are wired to absorb language this way. When we hear or read the language being used in meaningful contexts, our brains naturally pick up on the patterns and rules of the language, just like we learned our first language as children.

In contrast, he warns against too much focus on grammar drills and explicit instruction because it can create a mental barrier caused by anxiety or stress, which makes it harder for us to learn the language effectively.

In short, Krashen’s theory suggests that we learn a new language best when we are exposed to it naturally, in meaningful contexts, and when the language input is slightly challenging but still understandable.

Find out more at Stephen Krashen’s site:

Note: We’ll look at more terms in coming blog posts including:

  • Acquisition vs. Learning
  • Fluency vs. Accuracy
  • Affective Filter
  • Comprehensible Input

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below.

Mach’s gut!

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