• What is Second Language Acquisition (SLA)?

    SLA is a complex phenomenon, with many parallels with first language acquisition. It is a dynamic, creative process best developed through contextual, meaningful activities that focus on language use. Students of a second language pass through general development stages that are common to all second language learners.

    What role does the native language play in the development of a second language?

    The first language plays a very powerful role in the second language acquisition process. Skills developed in first language literacy not only are easily transferred but also are crucial to academic success in the second language. If students do not reach a certain threshold of literacy in their native language, they may experience cognitive difficulties in the second language.

    How long does it take for a child to develop skills in English?

    The time period required for a child to become fluent in conversational English is about one to two years. Students typically need five to seven years to catch up to their peers in academic English. Academic language is what students need in order to be successful in school; it involves knowledge of content material/conceptual awareness, content related vocabulary, and sophisticated grammatical structures. Students must be capable of comprehending this information in reading material as well as producing this information in written format.

    How can I monitor my child's growth as a second language learner?

    ESOL teachers send home a NYS report at the start of each school year that highlights the development and current stage of your child in oral language, reading and writing skills. Each child who receives ESOL services has an ESOL teacher who can help you with strategies to support your child in furthering his/her English skills. You can schedule an appointment to meet with your child's ESOL teacher by contacting the school's main office at any point during the school year.

    What role does a rich vocabulary play in language development?

    Did you know that one of the best ways you can help your child be successful is to expose him/her to rich vocabulary in your native language? Parents are their children’s first teachers and that means we want you to speak to your child in your native language. The best gift you can give your child is a rich vocabulary; talk to him/her about shapes, colors, seasons, transportation, professions, sports, traditional dances, music, holidays, cooking, animals, farming, construction, the weather…pretty much anything that interests you or them! By modeling grammatically correct, vocabulary rich sentences you are helping your child to learn the structures of your language while teaching him/her key vocabulary that will actually transfer to English once she/he begins school. If you don’t develop and guard your native language in the home, your son/daughter will not develop the communication skills he/she needs to speak with you and other family and friends back home. Remember, being bilingual is an asset in our global economy!