Tefl Entrance Exam
Read the following text and answer the questions below: ‘Acquisition’ In order to study how learner acquire a second language, a clear, operational definition of what is meant by the term ‘acquisition’ is needed. Unfortunately, researchers have been unable to agree on such a definition. ‘Acquisition’ can mean several things. First, some researchers (for example, Krashen 1981) distinguish between ‘acquisition’ and ‘learning’.
The former refers to the subconscious process of ‘picking up’ a language through exposure and the latter to the conscious process of studying it . According to this view, it is possible for learners to ‘acquire’ or to ‘learn’ rules independently and at separate times. Although such a distinction can have a strong face validity –particularly for teachers- it is problematic, not least because of the difficulty of demonstrating whether the knowledge learners possess is of the ‘acquired’ or ‘learnt’ kind. That is why many books use the terms ‘acquisition ‘ and ‘learning’ interchangeably.
Second, researchers disagree about what kind of performance they think provides the best evidence of acquisition. We have already noted that some researchers work with production data, some study learners’ intuitions about the L2, while others access learners’ introspection. Also, some researchers (for example, Bickerton 1981) consider a feature has been acquired when it appears for the first time, while others (for example, Dully and Burt 1980) require the learner to use it to some predetermined criterion level of accuracy, usually 90 per cent.
Thus, a distinction can be made between acquisition as ‘emergence’ or ‘onset’ and acquisition as ‘accurate use’. Clearly ‘acquisition can mean several very different things. This makes it very difficult to compare the results of one study with those of another. Conflicting results can be obtained depending on whether the data used consist of learners’ productions, introspections, or intuitions, or whether emergence or accuracy serves as the criterion of acquisition. Taken from: ‘The Study of Second Language Acquisition’, Rod Ellis – OUP 1.
What do you understand by ‘Second Language acquisition’? 2. How do you think learners acquire a second language? II. Critical Reading – Read the extracts in the box and: 1. Summarise in your own words what the writer is saying. 2. State whether you agree or disagree in principle. 3. In the light of your own experience as a teacher or learner, add further criticisms, positive or negative, of the writer’s point of view.
The language teachers’ view of what constitutes knowledge of a language is… a knowledge of the syntactic structure of sentences… The assumption that the language teacher appears to make is that once this basis is provided, then the learner will have no difficulty in dealing with the actual use of language…
There is a good deal of evidence to suggest that his assumption is of very doubtful validity indeed. (from H. G. Widdowson, ‘Directions in the teaching of discourse’ in Brumfit, C. J. The Communicative Approach to Language Teaching, OUP)| Taken from: ‘A Course in Language Teaching’, Penny Ur- CUP Summary Extracts 1 and 2. III. In a well-organised essay, describe what impact you hope your enrolment in this Diploma and Master Programme will have on your professional development. What is your motivation for enrolling in this Programme?
What can you bring to the Programme? What do you hope to take from it? ) – Give specific examples. (150 words- 30 minutes) I 1 A relatively basic way to define Second Language Acquisition in my perspective is a natural and subconscious assimilation of a language, which is not native in a way to be able to identify words and sentences not concerned with the form itself but meanings and messages.
As an example I can identify myself in the acquisition term although I had studied in my hometown, it wasn’t enough to approach the world of a native English speaker. We know it has different meanings according to the opinion but I would consider even without almost any knowledge a child moving around countries, speaking different languages, going through first words before reaching the age of scholarship and being able to communicate themselves in all those varieties of languages. I 2
I believe every leaner of a second language goes through steps and assimilates them one after another. First learners maintain themselves almost in silence, observing, listening and repeating a feel words and by the time they have enough vocabulary or usually memorized phrases as well with the help of visual texts such as papers and merchandise they now create their own sentences grammatically correct or not. They will start conversations asking questions and willing to express opinions.
As the time goes by they will be able to become almost fluent and comparing their native language to understand and assimilate more complexes syntaxes and concepts. Soon learners will unconsciously become fluent and able to communicate without further problems. I
Newmark says language is not based only on the formal study of grammar, yet Widdowson quote that language teachers believe the other way around which students should be provided first with the formal nowledge of “syntactic structure of sentences”, so then the learner will find no difficulties to learn and he clearly disagrees with the affirmation. II 2 I do agree with the authors that acquisition is basically more effective than learning. Thinking of a child when is born first they will see, listen and observe without knowing how to speak or having any motor coordination, then word by word they will construct their knowledge of the language naturally.
Imagine if a child could speak or even write before listening and observing. II 3 My experience as a second language learner was first at school having a really poor vocabulary used with a lot of grammar until the point of completely misunderstanding the language and consequentially displeasing it. As a teacher I look to the opposite direction, going outside the classroom and showing the importance of the actual use of a second language, motivating students’ curiosity, formalizing and exercising.
III This Diploma and Master besides giving me bigger opportunities professionally will also improve my understanding of the dialect between student and teacher when learning English as a second language. It will bring me better and precise methods of teaching my students the right, easier and pleasant way. At the moment Brazil doesn’t have many professionals interested in learning the English language properly nor the right methods of teaching, which this programme will provide me.
It will support my confidence and it will help me to encourage colleagues to modify their way of thinking. Otherwise we will keep having people turning their backs to the most important thing in the globalized word. I believe there is no one-way learning between teacher and student. Consequentially my own experiences and researches as an Brazilian English teacher and learner added to all the people involved in the programme from different parts of the world with our own perspective of culturalism we together could discus and share the ideas to aggregate knowledge.