Reflection: Second Language Acquisition

Over the past eight weeks, there are many things in this class that have challenged my preconceived notions about how humans acquire languages. Throughout the duration of this class, I have learned more about how humans develop language, and how that is applicable to my teaching.

I have learned that the seemingly simple question of ‘how do humans acquire language?” is a hotly debated topic that covers a wide range of disciplines and theories. Each of these theories contain certain truths that, in the end, piece together and try to answer this question to the best of our current knowledge about how the brain works and how that directly influences language learning.

As far as application in the classroom, the examples in the book did an excellent job of translating these theories into concrete classroom activities and scenarios that will be prevalent in the EFL/ESL classroom. Spada and Lightbown did an excellent job in explaining the significance and relevance of these theories which make this book, while challenging at times, a very intriguing read. Their melding of theories, along with research in the field through case studies, paint a picture of the SLA classroom that will mimic the classrooms that us as future EFL/ESL teachers will be living in daily. 

For how this has changed the ways in which I view teaching, this class made me reevaluate second language teaching that I have received in the past, what methods were used, and then forced me to reflect on if there could have been a better method to explain the materials in order to achieve internalization. I feel that this will be especially useful for me later in the degree program, when it gets closer to teaching others outside of a classroom setting. In my own classroom, I hope to take these theories and put them to the test. Through later curriculum development courses, I see myself using the theories discussed in this class at different stages to achieve a well rounded and effective teaching method. With my previous experience teaching, I recognize now the ways in which I can elevate my teaching beyond simple lecture based classes to encompass a wider variety of learning methods through interaction and involvement of the students in the learning process.

Overall, this class was challenging but also an extremely important part of the TESOL experience. Learning the theories behind why we teach the ways we do helps put into perspective the enormity of the subject and it’s importance in the EFL/ESL classroom.

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