Language Learning Experiences Of Mandarin And Swahili Essay

Language Learning Experiences Of Mandarin And Swahili Essay

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The acquisition of an additional language is a continual and active process and there are several fundamental theories that explore the language learning process. Language is learned through “imitation and habit formation” (Coelho 141), “cognitive process” (141), and “social interaction” (141). However, successful language acquisition usually incorporates such “scaffolding meaning, activating and building students’ background knowledge and extending students’ knowledge of academic language through explicit instruction” (Cummins and Early 26). In this paper I will explore these by examining my language learning experiences of Mandarin and Swahili, as well as those of Veronica, a Chinese exchange student who is learning English. It is important to note that although each theory is “based upon the way children acquire their first “language, the same processes are involved in acquiring a second language” (Coelho 141).
The most successful language learning experience for Veronica and myself included language learning experiences through “cognitive process” (141) by explicit instruction, rich “social interaction” (141), and frequent “imitation and habit formation” (141). It is interesting to note that our most successful language learning experiences occurred while living in the country where the language was spoken. This may speak to the continual and consistent opportunities provided by exposure to real life language rather than the assumption that immersion will, in and of itself produce language acquisition. My husband, for example, lived in Nairobi with me but never learned the language and relied upon my skills to negotiate taxi fairs, etc. In Big Ideas for Expanding Minds, Cummins and Early state that social interaction is one c...


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...ers and positive “social interactions (141)” generate an atmosphere that lends itself to increased learning. In addition, teachers should recognize the significance in how they implement language activities that require “imitation and habit formation” (41). While this may take effort on behalf of teachers and students, the results will reflect the benefit of implementing these strategies.
Acquiring an additional language is a process that requires effort, time and intentionality. The process includes “imitation and habit formation” (141), an intentional, often explicit “cognitive process” (141), and “social interaction” (141). However, successful language learning usually occurs when teachers intentionally incorporate “scaffolding” (Cummins and Early 26) “meaning” (26), activate and build upon students “background knowledge” (26) “through explicit instruction” (26).

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