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Once again, I got lost in the labyrinthian corridors of the University of York Language & Linguistic Science department, this time to speak to Tamar Keren-Portnoy about first language acquisition. There’s a lot of similarities between how we learn our first language and how we acquire our second language, so it’s a useful topic for ESL / EFL / second language teachers.
She gives us insights into such things as how babies develop syntax/grammar norms, why they learn some words earlier than others, how babies are not simply mimicking their caretakers and, through her own research with Rory DePaolis & Marilyn Vihman, how babies learn through listening and the sounds they themselves make.
You may remember Marilyn Vihman from episode 9 of MOT.
Later in the year, I’ll release a mini-episode about the developmental stages of babies.
Key words: baby, babies, acquisition, teaching, learning, babbling, language, babbling, cooing,
This episode, I speak to University of York’s Heather Marsden about the controversial Critical Period hypothesis. This theory suggests that there is a limited age at which we can learn a second language, after which it grows increasingly difficult. Anecdotally, we assume this to be true – kids are sponges for language while older people struggle – but what does the research say about this?
This episode is simply a bite-sized introduction to a much larger topic, so I encourage you to search around for other perspectives on this subject.
Heather Marsden @ University of York
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L1 – first/native language
L2 – second language
input – any exposure to the L2
interference – where the L1 grammar, vocab or pronunciation affects or negatively influences L2 production
Time: 50 minutes
This listening activity uses “Someone Like You” as a listening activity. There are TWO aspects to this.
- The verses and the bridge are fill-in-the-gaps
- The choruses are “correct the wrong words” activity. Some of the words on the student sheet are incorrect and students need to listen closely to find which.
Followed by the questions and activities from the lesson plan.
Click the link below for the lesson plan and answer sheet.
Time: 10+ minutes
A fun ice breaker using “Would you rather A or B?”. It’s deliberately silly and the classes have had loads of fun with it over the years. It needs to be set up and demonstrated along with giving some rules (I.E., you MUST choose one option / if the choice is “completely bald” then they are not allowed to ‘get hair implants’ later! / and so on).
Partners (A & B) have different questions. Students can start to expand it and add their own questions.
FOR SOME MORE CONSERVATIVE TEACHING CULTURES, SOME OF THE QUESTIONS MAY BE ON THE EDGY SIDE.
Click the link below.
Time: 60 mins +
This lesson plan uses incidental movie music to activate students’ schema to write a movie scene (Intermediate) or a movie plot (Advanced). This can be adapted to your learning goals (focus on vivid language/adjective/action words/dialogue/tenses) and the level of your learners. Ideal for students that are creative or are getting bored of the usual ESL classes.
Click the link below for the lesson.
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