Man on Island

Myths and Truths about Second Language Learning
and What They Mean for ESL Students

Celeste M. Scholz

ISKL Teacher In-Service, April 21, 1997
Truth or


(your opinion)
1 Children learn second languages quickly and easily. (quicker and easier than adults)      
2 The younger the child, the more skilled in acquiring an L2. (second language)      
3 The more time students spend in an L2 context, the quicker they learn the language.      
4 Children have acquired an L2 once they can speak it.


5 All children learn an L2 in the same way.




Reference: Myths and Misconceptions about Second Language Learning, ERIC Digest, December 1992

TOP FIVE Variables for Academic Success in a Second Language

Write a number between one and five indicating the order of importance of the following variables to success in a second language.
  Aptitude. Problem-solving capacity, speed, short and long term memory  
  Attitude. Social perceptions and social position of the learner, L2 learning appears desirable  
  First language proficiency. (Strong mother tongue skills)  
  Motivation. Instrumental (external) vs. Integrative (become part of culture)  
Reference : Academic Achievement in a Second Language, ERIC Digest, February 1991.

Other Variables for Academic Success in a Second Language


6. Personality: extroverted vs. inhibited, anxiety vs. risk-taking; amount of self-esteem vs. fear of rejection; degree to which learner can tolerate not understanding.

7. Learning style - visual, kinesthetic, auditory, tactile

8 . Brain hemisphere specialization - "left" - bilingual from birth, after age 11 more "right" brain activities will succeed

9. Learning strategies - Beaders: add one piece at a time; Braiders: connect new to old; Orchestrators: handle several pieces of information from numerous sources simultaneously. Characteristics of good learners.

10. Miscellaneous - gender, birth order , prior experiences

Reference: Virginia Rojas, ESL Conference, EARCOS, Jakarta International School, March 5-9, 1994.

Length of Time Needed to Achieve at Comparable Levels with Native-English-Speaking Peers
No. of Years
Cummins (1981)


Collier (1987)

Collier & Thomas(1988)


Collier (1989)


Reference : Academic Achievement in a Second Language, ERIC Digest, February 1991.   Additional Topics

ESL Academic Lanuguage Proficiency Scale

Second Language Acquisition is...

Accelerating Academic Language Learning (Cummins)

-activating prior knowledge


Accelarating Achievement with Learning Strategies

Cooperative Learning for Students from Diverse Language Backgrounds
Celeste M. Scholz
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