Language Acquisition


Englishlearning is the process of acquiring English language knowledge andskills. It generally involves having a clue of the language’sbackground as well as history. English learning has become a diversemechanism within the United States among other countries. Thelearners are also quite diverse, with majority of them beingimmigrants. The language itself has several stages that depend onlevel of knowledge. English language acquisition can hence be drawninto a number of categories depending on the level of Englishlanguage knowledge. This paper will look to give an analysis of acertain case. It will outline the different levels of Englishknowledge as well and how the categories are brought about. The paperwill also elaborate on theories related to ELL and how they relate tothe given case. By utilizing the given case, the paper will alsoillustrate the steps required by the teachers to improve on students’capabilities. A clear action plan will also be presented within thepaper. Elaborating the theories of ELL as well as the stages involvedand its relation to the given case will also be a major undertakingof this paper. An in depth analysis of Maria and Mikhail’s casewill be outlined. The methods used by the teacher to assist Mikhailacclimatize to the new environment will be discussed to confirm theirsuitability. It is quite true to point out the fact that differentteaching mechanisms suit learners differently. Learning is affectedby country of origin, age, need among other factors. Therefore,mechanisms employed to teach learners vary accordingly. The aim ofthis paper is to ascertain how the different methods can be utilizedto benefit the learners accordingly.

Languagedevelopment levels

  1. Pre-Production stage

Thestage may last between hours and months depending on the learners’ability. New learners take time to pronounce fresh words as well asvocabularies. Students typically have minimal comprehension with noverbal production. They normally point towards objects, nod toquestions asked, distinguish pictures from objects, match objects towords as well as move their bodies to show understanding. At thisstage, the student typically uses symbols among other descriptivemethods to communicate. Some scholars deem the learners to be totallysilent due to the limited communication techniques [ CITATION Con15 l 1033 ].

Thisstage is quite delicate and hence teachers should act with caution.In that respect, they are encouraged to provide various listeningopportunities, use art or music, inter-mingle the groups inaccordance to their abilities, and encourage shared reading amongothers. For instance, language learners should be mixed withproficient students to improve their abilities accordingly. For somereason, students learn well from their counterparts.

  1. Early Production

Thestage can last up to six months in accordance to the students’abilities. The learners typically gain understanding of roughly 1000words. They may even form short phrases as they attempt to utter afew words though with grammatical errors. The learners have limitedcomprehension and can provide one to two word responses. Most of themare able to identify places, things and people. They may alsoreplicate memorable language, listing and categorizing things. Inmost cases, they can also use expressions independently.Additionally, learners can listen when talked to with muchunderstanding[ CITATION Con15 l 1033 ].

Atthis level, teachers are advised to use a richer context. They canask basic questions like, Who? What? Where? They should also try tomanipulate pictures and objects to monitor the level ofunderstanding. They should also encourage students to make completesentences and emphasize on dialogue journals. With propercoordination between teachers and learners, this stage can behastened. At this point, teachers are bound to introduce certainbooks to enable quick development.

  1. Speech emergence

Thisstage is quite rich on the learners’ perspective. They gain avocabulary of roughly 3000 words. They now learn to communicate bywriting words in short sentences, questions and phrases. Though theymay be grammatically incorrect, the learners are able to acquiregreater comprehension and can now read and write using the secondlanguage [ CITATION Con15 l 1033 ].

Asmost studies have asserted, the learners can form simple sentencesmaking them a little bit proficient. They can describe people, eventsand places explaining academic concepts as well. At this stage, thelearners’ are considered to be proficient to some level.

Theteachers ought to continue monitoring the learners appropriately.They enhance their learners’ abilities by asking open endedquestions. The richness of language is also expounded accordingly.Learners are encouraged to write books about their personalexperiences among other demanding mechanisms to improve accordingly.

  1. Intermediate fluency

Thisstage according to scholars represents the second last bit. It cantake a year or more. Learners have a rich vocabulary of up to 6000words. They can communicate in speech and writing utilizing morecomplicated sentences. At this stage, learners even start reasoningin the second language hence become more proficient. They typicallyhave limited grammatical errors in their speech and writing. It isalso a common thing for learners at this stage to give opinions,negotiate, debate, express themselves as well as justify theiractions or behaviors. It is a crucial stage especially due to thefact that learners begin using the second language when thinking [ CITATION Con15 l 1033 ].

Theteachers at this level can boost learners by structuring groupdiscussions, offer advanced literature materials among others. Inthis case, most teachers encourage learners to create narratives andother writing opportunities. The proficiency levels are quitesubstantial.

  1. Advanced fluency

Mostlearners take up to two years to attain this stage and another 10years to attain full mastery of the language with all thecomplexities involved. Students at this level need avenue to expressthemselves well and uphold fluency. The key to achieving substantialproficiency both in writing and speaking is consistency and practice.The student ought to converse and express him/herself in the secondlanguage at all avenues to maintain proficiency. They can be comparedto native speakers of the language within the same age bracket [ CITATION Con15 l 1033 ].

Theteachers are encouraged to continue with development by integratingarts of the language and content.

Needanalysis of the two ELLs

Fromthe descriptions provided above, it is evident that Maria is in thefirst stage i.e. pre-production. She is an immigrant who had noEnglish background. As described above, this stage can take up toseveral months from the day of entry depending on the learner’sabilities and Maria had only managed five months showing that she isstill in her early days. The teacher, Mr. O’Malley alsocommunicates to Maria through signs. For instance, he makes sureMaria smiles and even nods when communicating. These gestures aretypically practiced by pre-production learners who cannot constructsentences or even express themselves in the second language.

InMikhail’s case, he is likely to be in the 3rdstage i.e. speech emergence level. He is proficient enough tocommunicate with the rest of the students but cannot construct richsentences while writing. He still has grammatical errors whenwriting. However, Mikhail is socially active and expresses himselfwell when communicating with friends. The third stage mainly entailsa rich vocabulary level of about 3000 words which may be the casewith Mikhail.

Strategiesused by Mr. O’Malley

InMaria’s case, the teacher is utilizing gestures to communicate withher. He makes sure she smiles or even nods when addressing her.Additionally, Mr. O’Malley assigns her a proficient student toassist her in any way possible. By utilizing friends, the teacher ismaking it easier for Maria to acclimatize to the new language andenvironment. It is easier for her to gain substantially throughfriends and as evidenced above, Maria is able to communicate withfriends even without the knowledge of the teacher. This method iseffective and suitable in Maria’s case. Maybe to hasten thedevelopment, the teacher could employ more mechanisms such as usingart or music to pass the message across to Maria.

InMikhail’s case, the teacher is encouraging him to write more abouthis experience in the new environment. By doing so, the teacher isenhancing Mikhail’s writing proficiency. By expressing himself inthe second language, Mikhail is able to improve in all aspects of thelanguage. As evidenced from the script, Mikhail has grammaticalissues though less communication issues. The mechanisms used by theteacher are also appropriate especially by letting him to describepersonal experiences in writing. The only thing the teacher can do isprovide more writing opportunities to sharpen the grammar.

Fromboth case, it is quite clear the teacher utilizes the socialInteractionisttheory that enables learners to gain knowledge of the language bygetting involved in communication [ CITATION K1215 l 1033 ].


Theteacher has to play an immense role in improving the languagestandards of his students. One area to emphasize is on peerinteraction. Students learn easily from each other and henceencouraging peer interaction between the proficient students and thelearners can impact positively on the learners. In this case, Maria’sinteraction with other students can boost her confidence in thesocial aspect and replicate the same on language proficiency [ CITATION Cur09 l 1033 ].

Theteacher also has to emphasize more on writing to improve ongrammatical errors and structure as well. In the case of Mikhail, heis socially sound but has poor sentence structure as well as grammar.More writing can improve the same [ CITATION Cur09 l 1033 ].

Anotheravenue in which the teacher can utilize is the involvement ofparents. It is quite vital for guardians to participate in thechildren’s development. The parents spend time with kids at homehence can contribute substantially in nurturing them accordingly.

Standardsand interventions

Accordingto the California grade 6 standards, students should havecollaborative, interpretive and productive means of communicating.The standards make it of essence for students to adopt means ofeffectively communicating with each other especially for sixthgraders.

Inboth cases, the students have diverse issues. For Mariacommunications seems to be the problem but early interventionespecially in terms of reading and writing can boost her accordingly.In Mikhail’s case early intervention could boost his writing skillsthat are a bit challenging especially the grammatical section.

Parentintervention in the case of Maria can be a huge boost. She has anissue especially in social aspects and collaboration between student,teacher and parent can benefit them accordingly.

Interactionisttheory is the most appropriate means of improving both students fromthe current stage. Maria for instance happens to have a social issuehence the slower rate of language acquisition. However, by improvingon this aspect she will be able to move to the next stage of languageknowledge.


Thelanguage acquisition process is quite hectic to both new learners andteachers as well. The levels as elaborated above provide a clearunderstanding of how hectic the process is with adequate proficiencybeing gained after more than 10 years. It is mostly up to the teacherto improve the students accordingly. Maria has a huge problemcommunicating and only utilizes body movements to communicate. At herlevel of language knowledge, the teacher has to encourage moresocietal techniques to let her interact with friends more often.Mikhail on the other hand makes grammatical errors when writing. Theonly way this can be improved is by providing more writingopportunities to ensure adequate practice which in the end will leadto perfection. The teacher himself might benefit from professionalsthat practice body language learning. If he is able to know what acertain sign means then he will be able to act accordingly. He canalso gain a lot from sign language professional in case he happens todeal with students with disabilities such as hearing.


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Curtin, E. (2009). Practical strategies for teaching english language learners. Pathways to teaching series .

K12HSN. (2015). Theories/Methods/Strategies/Research. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from Theories/Methods/Strategies/Research: