The role of linguistics in ESL instruction includes five essential components of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantic, and pragmatic. The five components are separate, but when teaching an English language learner the components work in conjunction. Some components are quicker to learn than others, in order for students to become efficient English users, students should be proficient in the five components.
Phonology refers to the study of sound within a specific language and the smallest unit of sound called phonemes. Other aspects of phonology include allophones (single phoneme in speech) such as peak and speak where the p sound is marginally different, syllable structure refers to the sequence of sounds within a word like spy (ccv) or mat (cvc). Some students may have a difficult time with phonemes in English if their natural language doesn’t include the same sound or if the sound doesn’t exist in the student’s natural language. Example for a nonexistent sound would be the /h/sound in English because the letter h in Spanish doesn’t have a sound therefore Spanish students would pronounce words that start with the letter h without the /h/sound unless taught the correct pronunciation. Another difficulty would occur if the student’s natural language had a distinct pronunciation of a specific English phoneme, such as /d/and /ð/ are the same sounds in Spanish so students will spell words with the letter d instead of the letters t and h (th) in English. An example would include spelling the word “that” in English as “dat”.
Morphology refers to the smallest unit of morphemes that conveys meaning, such as the word “books” which contains the free morpheme “book” and the bound morpheme “s” whereas the free morpheme can st...
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...students acquire the syntax cues while reading for comprehension. The teacher may also scaffold the activity and then have students work with a partner or independently with new material.
-Semantics-words that can be very confusing for ELLs because they are either pronounced the same with different spelling or spelled the same and have different meanings. Figurative meaning will also be difficult for ELLs because they will most likely think of the meaning literally which is confusing.
-Pragmatics-ELLs may not be able to understand an indirect meaning of a statement because they are not accustomed to hearing indirects in the English language. Teachers need to point out such differences when helping ELLs with the English Language by providing examples to clarify the meanings that can be interpreted in different ways.
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