Cute Presents For 2 And A Half Year Old Girl The Silent Period of Second Language Acquisition – Know This Before Frustration Takes Over!

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The Silent Period of Second Language Acquisition – Know This Before Frustration Takes Over!

There are five different stages in the second language acquisition process:

1) The Silent Period

2) The Early Production Period

3) The Period of Speech

4) The Average Production Period

5) The Advanced Production Period

Although there is a lot of research on these different stages, of these five periods, probably the most misunderstood, ignored or even unknown by both teachers and students is the first one, the Silent Period, which will be the focus of our article today. .

What is the Silent Period?

The first stage of language acquisition is called “The Silent Period” simply because the students do not speak much yet. For some students this period can be shorter or longer, between 2 to 6 months, although it can also last much longer, depending on the exposure to the foreign language that the student has.

For example, a foreigner living abroad and surrounded by a new language all day may have a shorter silent period than a student in his home country who attends a bilingual school where a second language is taught for four or five hours a day. In turn, this student’s silent period may be considerably shorter than that of a student studying a second language only two hours a week. So it becomes clear that generalizing how long this period can last is almost impossible, because it depends on many personal and individual variables that come into play.

The main characteristic of this stage is that after some initial exposure to the language, the learner is able to understand much more than he/she can produce. You can easily see this in two year old babies too! You can talk to them normally and they can definitely understand whatever you say. However, even if they wanted to say exactly what you said, they couldn’t. They may use some of your words but they would find it impossible to express their ideas in a similarly organized manner, despite the fact that they can understand every single word we have said.

This goes hand in hand with the fact that understanding preceded production. We will always be able to understand much more than we can produce. For example, despite knowing little or nothing about economics, accounting, and marketing, when I watch or read news reports about those fields, I can have a pretty good and accurate idea of ​​what those reports are about. However, if someone asked me to explain what the reports said, I would certainly resort to general language and simpler explanations to describe what the experts stated using specific jargon and technical analysis.

In other words, at the level of understanding, I might be able to understand everything, but at the level of production, I may not be able to express everything I heard in exactly the same way. However, with more exposure to those topics, and if they became meaningful to me and part of my everyday reality, after a while I could start using that specific jargon as part of my everyday vocabulary. In this example, the period of time between my initial exposure to the topic, perhaps the first time I heard a report on those topics and the time when I could talk about it freely without jargon or any language problems could be considered my silent. period in the field.

I want to emphasize here that I am slightly stretching the linguists’ definition of this period when I say this. Linguists refer specifically to the time when a person begins to acquire the language through exposure to it, understands a lot but is not yet able to express his ideas. When they talk about the “Silent Period” they don’t imply that it has to do with language acquisition at any stage of the second language acquisition process like I do. This is my humble opinion after several years of working with second language learners. Again, this is something that I have personally noticed that I feel can be perfectly applied to language learners at any stage of their learning as shown in the previous example.

As we have just seen, when it comes to the first contact between a language learner and a second language, this takes on a new dimension, of course. For a long time they may not be able to utter a single word and that is perfectly fine and it is part of language acquisition. What’s so strange about this period is that it has the special ability to unsettle adult students and drive teachers crazy! This is by far the most difficult period for both teachers and students.

One of the main reasons why I decided to write this article was to remind teachers of this crucial stage in second language acquisition and to make students aware of its existence so as not to place a heavy burden on themselves. Knowing this simple fact both teachers and students can share the joy of teaching and learning without the stress associated with the feeling that they are not achieving their goals.

Sometimes, the teacher’s lack of these kinds of things can produce unintended disastrous results on the self-esteem of their students. How common it is that those of us who specialize in teaching methodologies encounter disappointed or even angry teachers complaining about their students’ lack of progress.

“We have been working on the Present Tense for more than two months now. We have done exercises, many repetitions, we have created real situations to bring the language to life and yet they can produce little or. nothing!”

“How come they don’t learn after more than three weeks of this!”

My answer most of the time is the same: “Just give them more time.”

Over time, as long as our students are in a truly communicative environment, they will begin to produce what they cannot do now.

The widespread ignorance about this stage in language acquisition can create very unwanted situations. As a Colombian saying goes: “ignorance is obvious.”

Lacking an exact English idiom, or at least not knowing one myself, I will proceed to explain its meaning. The saying basically says that “ignorance is rude and makes us do stupid things.”

Once, while working at a pretty nice school in the US teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to a kid from Mexico, I got a call from my supervisor. She was extremely concerned because the principal of the school I worked at had called her to complain about my skills as a teacher because my student had made “no progress at all” since she started receiving my services. Although this same principal attended one of my classes and even wrote a report that said my work was “above average,” she seriously doubted that my teaching style really worked. After all, although the lesson was fun and provided many communicative opportunities for students to use the language, she never saw exercises, repetitions, exercises to fill gaps and grammar rules were never presented to my group of “seven”. -year-olds.” So, in her opinion, it was only natural that this student couldn’t do or say much in English. The funny thing was….this student had been in the US for less than two months and was receiving ESL services for less than a month and a half!!!!

Plus, contrary to the idea this principal had, she made HUGE progress. She could already understand most greetings and basic classroom directives; she could understand several types of questions on different everyday topics. She could even understand many things people said to her and basic facts! However, when it came to speaking, she could simply say a hello or two and produce “yes” or “no” responses. Does that mean she hasn’t progressed? Does that mean she didn’t learn anything? Not in the least! On the contrary, she was well advanced in her initial stage of second language acquisition and very shortly thereafter she entered the early production period. Plain and simple, she went through her silent period.

When I spoke to the principal and explained to her, as politely as possible, what the silent period was and how much progress this girl had made, she couldn’t help but blush and sigh with relief at the idea that “we didn’t waste ours. ” time!”

Once again, knowing this simple fact, we can relax, enjoy what we are doing without the frustrating feeling that we are getting nowhere. Students can also enjoy the freedom of knowing that sooner or later they will be able to practice everything they are learning now, given the right language setting (For more information on the right language setting, please read my other articles: “Are you? in A Really Communicative Second Language Classroom?,” Making the Most of Your Second Language Acquisition Program,” and “Second Language Acquisition in Adults – Parts 1 and 2.”

If we are “masters and commanders” of our class, as may be the case if you have your own language school or if you have the freedom to do as you want, just knowing this simple fact can give you a completely different perspective of your work. . However, if you work for someone who demands quick and immediate results, the best advice I could give you is to do your own research on this topic; read as much as you can and be prepared to be accountable for everything you do with your students. Talk to your supervisor, peers, students or anyone who demands results now and simply explain to them what the wealth of research on this issue shows. More often than not, the light that knowledge projects will dispel the darkness that surrounds ignorance. Not only will they understand what you mean, but they will also appreciate your efforts to make your classes more enjoyable and stress-free.

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