ESL Teaching Framework: Harness the Power of Second Language Acquisition Theory

22 Aug 2023 | ESLteachers

Are you an ESL teacher looking to enhance your teaching skills and make a real impact on your students’ language learning journey? You’re in the right place! Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theory is a powerful tool that can transform the way you approach ESL teaching.

Understanding Second Language Acquisition Theory

SLA theory is a field of research that seeks to explain how people acquire a second language. It’s a rich area of study that delves into the cognitive, social, and psychological processes involved in language learning. By grasping the key principles of SLA theory, ESL teachers can make informed decisions in their classrooms and design more effective language learning experiences for their students.

Applying SLA to ESL teaching

Now, let’s explore how SLA theory can be practically applied to ESL teaching:

  • Comprehensible Input: One of the fundamental concepts of SLA theory is the idea of “comprehensible input.” This means exposing learners to language that is slightly beyond their current level but still understandable. As an ESL teacher, you can use this concept to challenge your students while ensuring they can make sense of the language you’re exposing them to.
  • Focus on Meaning: SLA theory emphasizes the importance of meaning over form. Instead of obsessing over grammar rules, encourage your students to communicate and understand the meaning of what they’re saying or reading. This can make learning more enjoyable and effective.
  • Language Input Variation: Varying the types of language input your students receive can be a valuable strategy. Incorporate different accents, dialects, and real-life contexts to help them adapt to the diversity of language they’ll encounter in the real world.
  • Interaction and Communication: SLA theory highlights the significance of interaction and communication in language learning. Create opportunities for your students to engage in meaningful conversations, group activities, and discussions in English. This fosters a more natural and immersive learning environment.
  • Error Correction: Instead of constantly correcting every mistake, use error correction judiciously. SLA theory suggests that errors are a natural part of the language learning process. Focus on correcting errors that impede communication and let minor mistakes slide.

Dive Deeper:

Watch this video series providing teacher training on applying Second Language Acquisition Theory to ESL teaching.

https://youtu.be/6Tp1kApoU2U?si=fG0R4qX5W-APtoZ3

https://youtu.be/VC7VL_fLdfQ?si=gWPF6mNG9MDz3GyV

https://youtu.be/XZsbXrErrwg?si=YldJgDFI1eI3Q8qG

Go further with these practical step-by-step teaching techniques and classroom instruction demonstrations based on the Second Language Acquisition model.

1. Total Physical Response (TPR) РBoost your students vocabulary learning in a fun way! 

https://youtu.be/BlbEsz_XCKU?si=snqpaGVTjoXd9MOl

2. Circling and Personalised Question and Answer (PQA): Make your ESL class comprehensible, meaningful, and engaging.

https://youtu.be/V1p0Suqqlio?si=sSX0gwPJxJlhyrmE

3. Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS): Acquire grammar and vocabulary in a relaxed manner that works!

https://youtu.be/RlQstXgtaPA?si=3Rmmbtnp6iHpuQhg