Outline of second-language acquisition

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to second-language acquisition:

Second-language acquisition – process by which people learn a second language. Second-language acquisition (often abbreviated to SLA) also refers to the scientific discipline devoted to studying that process. Second language refers to any language learned in addition to a person's first language, including the learning of third, fourth, and subsequent languages. It is also called second-language learning, foreign language acquisition, and L2 acquisition.

What is second-language acquisition?[edit]

Second-language acquisition can be described as all of the following:

  • Language acquisition – process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language, as well as to produce and use words and sentences to communicate. Language acquisition is one of the quintessential human traits, because nonhumans do not communicate by using language [citation needed].
  • Academic discipline – branch of knowledge that is taught or researched at the college or university level. Also called a field of study. Disciplines are defined (in part) and recognized by the academic journals in which research is published, and the learned societies and academic departments or faculties to which their practitioners belong. A discipline incorporates relevant knowledge, expertise, skills, people, projects, communities, problems, challenges, studies, inquiry, approaches, and research areas.
  • Branch of science – systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. "Science" also refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied.
    • Branch of social science – academic discipline concerned with the society and the relationships of individuals within a society, which primarily rely on empirical approaches.
      • Branch of linguistics – scientific study of human language.
        • Branch of applied linguistics – interdisciplinary field of study that identifies, investigates, and offers solutions to language-related real-life problems. Some of the academic fields related to applied linguistics are education, linguistics, psychology, computer science, anthropology, and sociology.
  • A form of language education – teaching and learning of a foreign or second language. Language education is a branch of applied linguistics.

Branches of second-language acquisition[edit]

Related fields[edit]

Learning objectives: language skills[edit]

Second-language acquisition resources[edit]

Second-language acquisition methods and activities[edit]

  • Extensive listening – similar to extensive reading, it's the analogous approach to listening. One issue is that listening speed is generally slower than reading speed, so simpler texts are recommended.
  • Extensive reading – large amount of reading, to increase unknown word encounters and associated learning opportunities by inferencing. The learner's view and review of unknown words in specific context will allow the learner to infer and thus learn those words' meanings.
  • Intensive reading – slow, careful reading of a small amount of difficult text – it is when one is "focused on the language rather than the text".
  • Language immersion – teaching and self-teaching method in which the second language is the medium of instruction, with no use of primary language allowed. All educational materials and all communication are in the second language.
  • Paderborn method – learn a simple language first, such as Esperanto, and then the target second language. Saves time by making the second language easier to learn.
  • Vocabulary acquisition

Second-language acquisition tools[edit]

  • Dictionary – collection of words in one or more specific languages, often listed alphabetically, with usage information, definitions, etymologies, phonetics, pronunciations, and other relevant information.
    • Mono-lingual dictionary – dictionary in a single language. A mono-lingual dictionary in the language being acquired assists the reader in describing words (and thinking about the language) in the language's own terms.
    • Bilingual dictionary – also called a translation dictionary, is a specialized dictionary used to translate words or phrases from one language to another.
      • Unidirectional bilingual dictionary – lists the meanings of words of one language in another
      • Bidirectional bilingual dictionary – presents translation to and from both included languages.
    • Talking dictionary – some online dictionaries and dictionary programs provide text-to-speech pronunciation.
    • Visual dictionary – dictionary that primarily uses pictures to illustrate the meaning of words. Each component within each picture is labeled with its name. Visual dictionaries can be monolingual or multilingual. Visual dictionaries in the language being acquired are especially useful in language immersion approaches.
  • Media in the target language
  • Subtitles
  • Word lists by frequency – lists of a language's words grouped by frequency of occurrence within some given text corpus, either by levels or as a ranked list, serving the purpose of vocabulary acquisition.

History of second-language acquisition[edit]

History of second-language acquisition

Second-language acquisition phenomena[edit]

Factors affecting the learning of a second-language[edit]

Hypothesized success factors[edit]

  • Acculturation model – hypothesis in which effectiveness in acquiring a second language is due in part to how well the learner acclimatizes to the culture (and members) of the target language. The greater the social and psychological distances of the learner from the members of the target culture, the fewer opportunities he or she will have to learn the language.
  • Input hypothesis
  • Interaction hypothesis – the development of language proficiency is promoted by face-to-face interaction and communication.
  • Comprehensible output hypothesis
  • Competition model – posits that the meaning of language is interpreted by comparing a number of linguistic cues within a sentence, and that language is learned through the competition of basic cognitive mechanisms in the presence of a rich linguistic environment.
  • Noticing hypothesis – concept proposed by Richard Schmidt, which states that learners cannot learn the grammatical features of a language unless they notice them.[1] That is, noticing is the essential starting point for acquisition. Whether the noticing can be subconscious is a matter of debate.

Second-language acquisition research[edit]

Second-language acquisition-related organizations[edit]

Second-language acquisition publications[edit]

Persons influential in second-language acquisition[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ H.S. Venkatagiri, John M. Levis "Phonological Awareness and Speech Comprehensibility: An Exploratory Study" Language Awareness. Vol. 16, Iss. 4, 2009

External links[edit]