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Foreign Language



13 MAY 2018
 Language theories and myths
 Language acquisition strategies for European and
Asian languages
 Habits leading to language competency
 Social domain for language acquisition
 Affective domain for language acquisition
 Crafting your language acquisition plan
 Mobile apps for language acquisition
 Incidental acquisition
 conscious or unconscious use of context clues during reading
and listening activities
 common means of learning new vocabulary, especially for
proficient learners or learners who have high motivation for
language learning
 Direct instruction
 Teaching of meaning and mediating learning of words via
structured instruction
 Common means of learning language formally. Grammar,
spelling and written work is at the core of direct instruction.
 Learning languages is one of the hardest thing to do
 Maybe. But people do it anyway! =)
 I am not intelligent enough to pick up languages
 Language learning and intelligence are NOT correlated.
 I’m too old/have poor memory/not well-travelled etc
 Brain plasticity is for life. You can learn language at any stage.
 Practice makes perfect
 Nope. Practice makes PERMANENT.
 You can learn languages in 14 / 28/ 50/ x number of days
 Maybe. But it’s best not to believe
marketing claims. =)
 Features of European languages
 Similar scripts and have one major parent language – Latin.

 Alphabetic principle

 Phonology is similar

 Stable and predictable spelling rules

 Morphology and syntax are similar

 Tense, possessives, plural inflections are common features
 Sentence formation rules are almost identical
 Subject + Verb + Object (Simple sentence)
 Focus on acquiring Vocabulary + Grammar
 Vocabulary
 Thematic focus

 Phonics based approach

 Grammar
 Focus on sentence formation and learn the inflections well
 Master the Subject-Verb-Object sentence order
 Simple ➔ compound ➔ complex sentences
 Learn question tags and answers
 Acquire common Regular + irregular verbs & singular + plural
 Features of Asian languages
 Different scripts & unique letter formations

 Phonology and tone is specific to the language

 Alphabetic or logographic principles

 Morphology and syntax are fairly

 Spelling and word formation rules

are predictable
 Sentence formation rules can

be complex
 Learn the script and phonology
 Decode and encode with reading practice

 Pay attention to tones

 Learn the sentence formation rules
 Is it in SVO order?

 How do question tags work?

 What are the morphological rules?

 Eg: Do you add suffixes for plurals?
 How to express tenses?
 Most habits for language competency are ‘common
sense’. The real difference lies in its execution. =)
 Some common sense advice:
 Use target language regularly and consistently
 Make mistakes and get someone to correct you
 Master the alphabets + spelling so that you can code and
decode language on your own ➔ incidental learning
 Focus on vocabulary AND grammar. They go hand in hand.
 Do levelled work → reading, spelling in increasing difficulty
 Set achievable goals + reward yourself
 Get a buddy to cheer / nag you to reach your goals.
 Social Domain refers to the interactive side of human
behaviour related to the acquisition of second
 Linguistic distance between L1 & L2
 Eg: Chinese L1 and Korean L2 / Tamil L1 & French L2
 Language attitudes
 How the language is valued plays a part in acquisition
 Learner and peer influence
 Goals and depth of socialising / assimilation will differ
 Dialect and register
 Some languages are used more in certain contexts and have greater
appeal to learners.
 Eg: Korean pop music
 Affective domain refers to the emotional side of
human behaviour.
 Self-Esteem → Global, Specific, Task-based
 Empathy → Awareness, Knowledge and identification with
 Anxiety → Facilitative (fight), Debilitative (flight)
 Motivation → intrinsic and extrinsic needs for exploration,
stimulation, knowledge & ego (self-fulfilment).
 Motivation
 Genuine need or love for (language) learning
 Looking for new challenges
 Want to impress someone? =P

 Time
 Consistent practice and test yourself

 Commitment
 At what point do you want to stop or give up?

 Some resources
 Books, online resources, language buddy etc…

 A teacher / Someone to keep tabs on you (optional)

 Immersion in the new language environment
 Travel?

 Take a class?

 Or find friends in a certain area?

 Thematic use

 Use everyday context
 Order food / ask for directions etc in target language

 Switch your email / Operating system to target language

 Read books & listen to the news

 Choose your target language and study the features
 Decide on the competency level you want to reach
 Evaluate your resources & abilities
 Allocate time and be realistic
 Break down topics / themes to cover and put them
on a timeline
 Set goals and reach them within a time limit
 Attend lessons or communicate your goals to a
buddy to check and practice language with
 Keep practising. Learning doesn’t stop. =)
 Based on your plan, you can get specific with
choosing a language buddy. Here are some realistic
things you can look out for:
 L1 speaker / Native speaker → able to coach you on
phonology, reading, spelling, language features and cultural
aspects of language
 Subject area expert → Eg: able to teach grammar,
handwriting etc.
 Socio-emotional goals buddy → Someone to keep you on
track for your learning goals.
 Seeking the same goals → Learn the language with someone
who has similar learning goals and motivations.
 Clarify learning goals and get on the same page
 Follow the PPP approach
 Present
 Focus on the topic or chapter that you will be covering
 Practice
 Demonstrate or explain the context of what you are covering
 Produce
 Practice writing, spelling, speaking or listening tasks with the
materials that you will be covering.
 Be participative so that learners can bounce off ideas
and have an interactive experience
 Anticipate questions and mistakes so that you can
cover the features of the target language
 Phonology
 Learning the sounds of the language
 Differentiating and producing tones
 enunciation
 Differences in script
 Alphabetic vs Logographic
 Spelling
 Handwriting and letter formation
 Grammar
 Word order
 Tenses, plurals, irregular verbs
 Sentence formation and question tags
 There are many learning resources available to us
via the internet or published books. Here are some
features you can look out for:
 Grouping of vocabulary items via themes or grammar classes
 Organisation → Easy to difficult
 Repetitive and cumulative
 Has a presentation aspect – eg: has pictures + words
 Allows for sufficient practice
 Progress monitoring
 Covers reading, writing, listening and speaking
 Bonus: teaches translation between target language and your
 Some apps to get you started:
 Duolingo.

 HelloTalk.

 Mindsnacks.

 Busuu.

 Babbel.

 Memrise.

 Leaf.

 Lingua.ly.
 Frayer’s model
 Visual thesaurus
 Cartoons
 Wordle
 Word sorting
 Designed by Dorothy Frayer at the University of
 Has many expansion possibilities
 Suitable for beginners
 Four sections:
 Critical characteristics
 Non-critical characteristics
 Example
 Non-example
 Add sections like:
 Illustrations

 Mnemonics

 Dictionary definitions

 synonyms / antonyms

 Part of speech

 Different senses of the word

 Word intensity
 Arrange synonyms Eg: Happy, ecstatic, jubilant
 Morphology
 Related Greek/latin roots
 Developing vocabulary and grammar is important
 Don’t just focus on one aspect. It can end up being a crutch to
successful language acquisition =)
 Language learning structures can be adjusted to
every need, learner and goal
 Learning a language isn’t as hard as people make it out to be.
 Weblinks:
 Wordle: http://www.wordle.net/

 Visual thesaurus: www.visualthesaurus.com/

 Visuwords: www.visualthesaurus.com/

 Snappywords: http://www.snappywords.com/

 Frayer model generator:

 Spelling city: http://www.spellingcity.com/
 Chaffin, R. (1997). Associations to unfamiliar words:
Learning the meanings of new words. Memory &
Cognition, 25, 203 (24).
 Krashen, S. (1989). We acquire vocabulary and
spelling by reading: Additional evidence for the
input hypothesis. The Modern language Journal, 73,
iv, 439-464.
 Nation, I.S.P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another
language. Cambridge: C.U.P.