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Teaching and Acquisition of a Second Language

According to research carried out by the ‘United States Government Accountability Office’; it is well indicated that strategies of improving students’ academic standards, were mostly applied in schools with higher proportions of low income, and minority students. In this case, schools’ principals used student data in notifying directions and augment professional development for teachers. In addition, in some states like California, Georgia and Pennsylvania; mathematics teachers raised the use of some instructional practices in order to fit their state tests. Based on this; instructional practices were employed aiming to focus on the topics highlighted on assessments and also, pursuing the search for more effectual teaching techniques. In this case, teachers could provide extra instruction to low achieving students, in order to improve their performance. Arguments on the standards-based accountability systems stated that, this system can affect instructional practices both positively and negatively. In one way, studies indicated that when a standards-based curriculum aligned with matching instructional guiding principle was used, it assisted in the development of elevated order thinking skills among students. On the other hand, studies showed that teachers’ practices were not constantly replicating the values of standard based instruction; and the complexities associated in aligning practices with standards were accredited partially to existing accountability necessities (Harrell, 2003).

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Moreover, there were studies indicating that assessment powerfully advanced the studying process and at the same time, appraised students’ success. In this case, they brought about unplanned negative effects as far as instruction was considered; by studying only the materials being tested. Other strategies used included; creating extra time for instructional programs which was mostly before-school, after-school and weekends. On the other hand, parents were involved in their children’s education; where they were informed about the students’ performance and showed the importance of guiding them when they are off-school. Based on the students’ performance, principals restructured the school day in order to teach the main content areas in depth (Krashen, 1982).

Teaching a second language is the act of imparting students with the knowledge of another language other than their native one. In this case, there are various methods employed in teaching a second language. Among these techniques is; the use of grammar translation method, direct/natural method, audio-lingual method and language immersion method (Krashen, 1998).

When teaching a second language, it is essential that students understand the essence of what is being taught. Based on this, comprehensible input is a significant notion where students develop a second language with and without learning complexities. Students understand the concepts of a new language best; especially when an input more complex than they can easily learn is administered. In this case, the teacher should be very comprehensible when talking because students in most cases understand many, even if not all of the teacher’s words. Therefore it can be argued that, students comprehend most aspects essential for learning, where through experience gained from learning they are pushed to greater understanding (Harrell, 2003).

The second language teacher should give pertinent background information and content of the language, in order to ensure that the material provided is adequately comprehensible. Based on this, teachers should offer instructions that draw mostly on what students know, through their past experiences and cultural backgrounds. In this case, teachers need to give details of the ideas in most of the time while using minor differences in vocabularies and examples. Therefore, teachers are required to use their vocabularies controllably while at the same time using graphic organizers and signs where possible; in improving the students understanding of the language concepts (Krashen, 1982).

On the other hand, students need to be involved in discussions so that they can express their own ideas and thoughts about the new language. Based on this, students will be motivated by being given an opportunity to share their experiences which will in turn raise receptive language proficiencies. In this case, students will understand the new language better than not when allowed to use oral language in classrooms; while at the same time involving themselves in cognitive difficult responsibilities. In some cases, older students may face problems in classrooms when expressing their ideas orally; therefore ‘dialog journals’ and ‘computer journals’ through responses from their teacher; may be a good method of improving their second language understanding (Krashen, 1998).

Further, It is the teacher’s duty to evaluate the students in order to know whether they understood the concepts of a second language or not. Evaluations may be in form of oral or written questions; where students are supposed to write their ideas about the new language. Based on this, the teacher will get adequate information on the students’ learning. It is advisable to let students know what you learned from their continuous assessment tests (CAT); and what was supposed to be done. Another way the teacher can use to acquire feedback on his teaching is through survey or evolution forms, which are circulated in the classroom throughout the learning course. These forms ask questions which the teacher is best interested in; so as to get feedback from students (Ellis, 1997).

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When teaching students of various ages, they need to be grouped in accordance with their age to ease the work of teaching them as well as allowing socialization amongst themselves. As indicated earlier, older students are at greater risks than young ones when expressing their ideas in classroom situations; and therefore other methods like dialog journals with responses from the teacher are recommended. On the other hand, students may be grouped according to their native languages. In this case, it will be easier to understand their backgrounds; which helps in giving authentic examples from their own languages (Chamot & O’Malley, 1990).


Herrell, A. (2003). Fifty Strategies for Teaching English Language Learner, Second edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Publishers

Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall

Krashen, S. (1998). Foreign Language Education the Easy Way, 1st edition. Bedford: Language Education Association Press

Ellis, R. (1997). Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Chamot, A. & O’Malley, J. (1990). Learning Strategies in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

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