Menu

Second Language Acquisition

By: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Anyone at any age can learn a second language after a first language is already established, but it takes a lot of practice. Second language acquisition often happens when a child who speaks a language other than English goes to school for the first time. This American Speech-Language-Hearing Association brief looks at the best way to teach a second language and how speech professionals can help.

What is second language acquisition?

Second language acquisition, or sequential language acquisition, is learning a second language after a first language is already established. Many times this happens when a child who speaks a language other than English goes to school for the first time. Children have an easier time learning a second language, but anyone can do it at any age. It takes a lot of practice!

What is the best way to teach a second language?

There are many different things that factor into the decision about how to teach a person a second language, including the following:

  • language spoken in the home
  • amount of opportunity to practice the second language
  • internal motivation of the learner
  • reason that the second language is needed (e.g., to learn at school, to talk to a friend, or for work)

There are different ways that to introduce the second language:

  • by setting (e.g., English is spoken only in the school, and Urdu is spoken only in the home)
  • by topic (e.g., French is spoken only during meal time, and Spanish is spoken during school/work activities)
  • by speaker (e.g., Mom will speak only in German, and Dad speaks Russian only)

The ability of a person to use a second language will depend on his or her family's ability to speak more than one language. It is important for parents/caregivers to provide a strong language model. If you cannot use the language well, you should not be teaching it.

How can a speech-language pathologist help?

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can provide elective services for individuals who are learning English as a second language. These services are not covered by insurance.

The Preferred Practice Patterns for the Profession of Speech-Language Pathology outline the common practices followed by SLPs when engaging in various aspects of the profession. The Preferred Practice Patterns for elective communication modifications are outlined in sections 31, 32, and 33.

Reprinted with permission from Learning More Than One Language (2008). Available from the Web site of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: http://asha.org/public/speech/development/second.htm. All rights reserved.

Reprints

For any reprint requests, please contact the author or publisher listed.

Comments

In your What is the best way to teach a second language? Section, the first sentence in your second "paragraph" is incorrect.There are different ways that to introduce the second language.You need to remove "that"

In general, language acquisition is measures in terms of language proficiency which may be defined as the ability to use a languageeffectively and appropriately throughout the range of social, personal, school,and work situations required for daily living in a given society.

The difference between ´Language Learning´ and ´Language Acquisition´ is acquiring a language is simply knowing the words whereas Language learning is understanding the words and the part they play in a sentence along with structure of the sentence.

Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
Sign up for our free newsletters about reading

Summer Reading Tips to Go! Delivered to your mobile phone in English or Spanish. Sign up today!
Advertisement
Reading Blogs
Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
July 10, 2014
June 24, 2014
"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo