EPIK, a popular tefl
recruiting agency in Korea, estimated that they have hired 6,831 foreign teachers
to work in Korean public schools since 1995.6 Why is this? It is estimated that there are1 billion non-native speakers of english
.3 This makes english
the one language that is spoken by the greatest number of non-native speakers. 2 And this need to learn english
continues to grow. Thus, the study of the process of learning languages is particularly interesting to current and potential tefl teachers
. This process is called language acquisition and it involves studying how we communicate, how we perceive and comprehend languages and how we produce and use words. This research article will discuss the difference between first language and second language acquisition and how it affects learning and teaching english
as a foreign language.
First language acquisition refers to the process of learning ones mother tongue. It is the first language a person is able to develop. 1Linguists refer to this as a person's L1. There are specific characteristics that help differentiate first language acquisition from second language acquisition, for instance all children
achieve mastery of L1. The only way a child will not is if they are placed in an environment where they receive no language input. Also, success is guaranteed. If a child is given enough language input then they will learn the language. Thirdly, instruction is not needed to learn L1. Lastly, the goal of L1 speakers is to attain language competence.4 Overall, there are little challenges associated with first language acquisition.
In contrast, there are a lot of challenges associated with second language acquisition. Second language acquisition is defined as the process by which a person learns a second language.5 Linguists refer to this as person's L2. The effects of second language acquisition characteristics can vary depending on the individual. But each of the following characteristics is common in all second language learners. For one, language learners are unlikely to achieve mastery of L2. This means that L2 learners will most likely not achieve the same level of language competence as they have had with their L1. Secondly, learners vary in success and rate. This could be due to a variety of reasons, persons age, language instruction, how different their L1 language is from L2 etc…Thirdly, L2 learners have different goals for learning a second language, for instance they want to achieve accuracy and fluency, whereas L1 learners want to achieve language competence. Lastly, instruction is necessary and helpful to L2 learners.4 This last point is particularity important to tefl teachers
So, why is this significant to tefl teachers
? This information about second language acquisition helps teachers
consider of the following characteristics when teaching their students; their student's age. Second language acquisition is found to be easier for younger students than older. Younger students are more likely to achieve competence and fluency than their older peers. Secondly, language transfer which is when aspects of a students first language effects learning second language.1 Thirdly, the student's L1 will affect their second language acquisition in other ways too like how they pronounce words and how they understand or use L2 grammar. Lastly, there are social and cultural aspects that teachers
have to consider when teaching english
as a foreign language.
In conclusion, understanding the characteristics and developmental process of second language acquisition is very important to teachers
because they deal with it on a daily basis. teachers
see the effects of second language acquisition in their classrooms everyday, especially teachers
of beginner and elementary students. So, if we study what learners do we can help make their learning process easier or aid them with developing appropriate teaching methods and techniques. tefl teachers
are responsible for one of the key steps that will determine if a person will achieve second language acquisition.
1. De Houwer, Annick. An Introduction to Bilingual Development (Ontario: Mulitlingual Matters, 2009).
2. “Language statistics & facts,” last modified 2005.
3. “List of languages by number of native speakers,” last modified April 8 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers
4. Pirvulescu., M. “Bilingual Acquisition: Points of Discussion” (lecture, University of toronto
, March 24 2011).
5. “Second-language acquisition,” last modified March 25 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_language_acquisition
6. “Teaching english
as a foreign language,” last modified April 7 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teaching_english