How Old Is A Girl When She Gets Her Period The Silent Period of Second Language Acquisition – Know This Before Frustration Takes Over!

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The Silent Period of Second Language Acquisition – Know This Before Frustration Takes Over!

The process of acquiring a second language has five different stages:

1) Quiet period

2) Early production period

3) The period of the emergence of speech

4) Intermediate production period

5) Advanced production period

Although there is much research on these various stages, of these five periods, probably the most misunderstood, ignored, or even unknown to both teachers and students is the first, the Silent Period, which we will focus on today. .

What is the Quiet Period?

The first stage of the language acquisition process is called “The Silent Period” simply because students don’t speak much yet. For some students, this period can be shorter or longer, ranging from 2 to 6 months, although it can be much longer, depending on the student’s exposure to the foreign language.

For example, a foreigner living abroad and surrounded by a new language all day may have a shorter period of rest than a student in his home country who attends a bilingual school where the second language is taught for four or five hours a day. On the other hand, this student’s silence may be significantly shorter than that of a student who studies a second language for only two hours a week. So it’s clear that generalizing how long this period can last is almost impossible because it depends on the many personal and individual variables that come into play.

The main characteristic of this stage is that, after some initial contact with the language, the learner is able to understand much more than he can produce. You can easily see this even in two-year-old babies! You can talk to them normally and they definitely understand everything you say. However, even if they wanted to say exactly what you said, they wouldn’t be able to. They may use some of your words, but find it impossible to express their thoughts in a similarly organized way, even though they can understand every word we say.

This goes hand in hand with the fact that production was preceded by understanding. We will always be able to understand much more than we can produce. Despite knowing little or nothing about economics, accounting and marketing, when I watch or read news about these areas, I can get a pretty good and accurate idea of ​​what the news is about. However, if someone asked me to explain what the news was saying, I would certainly resort to common language and simpler explanations to describe what the experts said using specific jargon and technical analysis.

In other words, at the comprehension level I was able to understand everything, but at the production level I might not be able to express everything I heard in exactly the same way. However, with more attention to these topics and if they became meaningful to me and part of my everyday reality, after some time I would be able to start using this specific jargon as part of my everyday vocabulary. In this example, the period of time between my first encounter with the topic, perhaps the first time I heard a message about these topics, and the time when I could talk about it freely without jargon or any language problems could be considered my quiet period in the field .

Here I would like to emphasize that I am slightly expanding the definition of this period by linguists. Linguists refer specifically to the time when a person begins to acquire a language by being exposed to it, understands a lot, but is not yet able to express his thoughts. When they talk about a “quiet period” they are not implying that it refers to language acquisition at any stage of the second language acquisition process, as I do. This is my humble opinion after several years of working with second language learners. Again, this is something I have personally noticed and feel could be perfectly applied to language learners at any stage of their learning, as shown in the previous example.

As we have just seen, when it comes to the first contact between a language learner and a second language, it obviously takes on a new dimension. They may not be able to say a single word for a long time, and that’s perfectly fine and an integral part of the language acquisition process. What’s so special about this period is that it has the uncanny ability to create anxiety in adult students and drive teachers absolutely insane! This period is by far the most difficult for both teachers and students.

One of the main reasons why I decided to write this article was to remind teachers of this crucial stage of second language acquisition and to make students aware of its existence so that they don’t overburden themselves. By knowing this simple fact, teachers and students alike can share the joy of teaching and learning without the stress of feeling like they are falling short of their goals.

In some cases, a teacher’s lack of knowledge about these issues can have unintended, disastrous consequences for their students’ self-esteem. How common it is for those of us who specialize in teaching methodologies to encounter disappointed or even angry teachers who complain about their students’ lack of progress.

“We’ve been working on the present tense for over two months now. We’ve been doing exercises, lots of repetition, creating real-life situations to bring the language to life, and yet they can produce little or nothing!”

“How come they didn’t learn after doing this for over three weeks!”

In most cases, my answer is the same: “Just give them more time.”

Over time, provided our students are in a truly communicative environment, they will begin to produce what they cannot do right now.

Widespread ignorance of this phase of the language acquisition process can create very undesirable situations. As the Colombian proverb says: “la ignorancia es atrevida.”

Since I lack the exact English idiom, or at least do not know it myself, I will proceed to explain its meaning. The saying basically says that “ignorance is rude and makes us do stupid things”.

On one occasion, when I was working at a pretty nice school in the US teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to a kid from Mexico, I got a call from my supervisor. She was extremely concerned because the principal of the school I worked at called her to complain about my teaching skills because my student was “not making any progress at all” since she started receiving my services. Even though the same principal sat in on one of my classes and even wrote a report saying my work was “above average,” she seriously doubted that my teaching approach was actually working. After all, while the lesson was fun and gave students lots of opportunities to communicate to use the language, it didn’t see any drills, revisions, gap-filling exercises, and grammar rules that were never presented to my group of Sevens. -years old.” So, in her opinion, it was only natural that this student couldn’t even say much in English. The funny thing was… this student had been in the US for less than two months and had received ESL services for less than a month and a half!! !!

What’s more, contrary to the idea this director had, she made HUGE progress. She already understood most greetings and basic classroom instructions; she was able to understand several types of questions on various everyday topics. She even understood many of the things people told her to do and basic facts! However, when it came to speaking, she could only say one or two greetings and answer “yes” or “no”. Does that mean she hasn’t made any progress? Does that mean she hasn’t learned anything? Not in the least! On the contrary, she was quite advanced in the initial phase of second language acquisition and very soon after that she entered the early production period. She was simply going through a period of silence.

When I spoke to the principal and explained as politely as possible what the quiet period was and how much progress this girl had made, she couldn’t help but blush and sigh in relief at the thought that “we didn’t waste our time!”

Once again, when we realize this simple fact, we can relax, enjoy what we’re doing, without the frustrating feeling of getting nowhere. Students can also enjoy the freedom of knowing that sooner or later they will be able to put into practice everything they are learning now, given the right language setting (For more information on the right language setting, please read my other articles: “You are in a truly communicative classroom Second Language?”, How to Get the Most Out of Your Second Language Acquisition Program,” and “Second Language Acquisition for Adult Learners – Parts 1 and 2.”)

If we are the “masters and commanders” of our class, as it can be, if you have your own language school or if you have the freedom to do what you want, just knowing this simple fact can give you a completely different perspective on your work. . However, if you work for someone who requires quick and immediate results, the best advice I can give you is to do your own research on the subject; read as much as you can and be prepared to answer everything you do with your students. Talk now to your supervisor, peers, students, or anyone who demands results, and simply explain to them what the wealth of research on this topic shows. More often than not, the light that illuminates knowledge dispels the darkness that surrounds ignorance. Not only will they understand what you mean, but they will also appreciate your efforts to make your classes more enjoyable and stress-free.

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