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Language Acquisition Techniques

Jan's Prezi for this session.

Acquisition vs Learning
We acquire language through comprehensible input (listening and reading). It is an unconscious process and it happens when the learner is focused on the meaning of the message.

"Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language - natural communication - in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding." Dr. Stephen Krashen

A few strategies to increase fluency
More information in the form of  handouts available for download at:
These handouts were part of the NTRPS Convention in July 2011.

The secret of its effectiveness is simple: children become better readers by reading. Is free voluntary reading the only program students will ever need to become accomplished readers? No. But research has shown that children who don’t read for pleasure have an extremely tough time developing the language and literacy competencies necessary to succeed in today’s world. Dr. Krashen,
Reach Out and Read Program
Research about Reach Out and Read Program
See also books listed below.

Personalized comprehensible input or even better -- compelling input
Focus on target phrases and personalize by:
  • compare/contrast individuals
  • find commonalities
  • find uniqueness
  • ask questions
  • maintain eye contact
  • give posiitive feedback

Embedded Reading
What is Embedded Reading? - Explanation of what it is, and how it benefits students.
One Way to Create an Embedded Reading - Start with 2 or 3 focus phrases and build from there.
Example of Embedded Reading Story (in Spanish) - scroll down to the Enrique el Increíble story resources

Songs and Chants
Create chants or songs using target phrases and vocabulary
Find popular songs that use the target phrases
Use Cloze activities (one of the best for listening comprehension)

Repetition and SLOW down
Use questions to get more repeats of target structures
SLOW down, enunciate clearly (slowly increase speed as students 'get it')
Teach to the eyes

Contrastive Grammar
With target structures written on the board (with translations) in two different colors, and the grammatical point highlighted in a third color, ask students to compare 2 structures.  For example, present tense of 'wants to buy' with past tense of 'wanted to buy.' Focus on meaning not structure. Ask "What does _______________mean?"

Recommended Reading
Nancie Atwell, The Reading Zone
Nancie Atwell, The Book Whisperer
Stephen Krashen, The Power of  Reading
Stephen Krashen, The Natural Approach
Stephen Krashen, Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use
Dr. Ken O'Connor, How to Grade for Learning
Rick Wormeli,  Fair Isn't Always Equal