What Are Optimal Conditions for Second Language Acquisition?


 A new synthesis of research in the Review of Educational Research (Dixon, Zhao, Shin, Wu, Su, Burgess-Brigham, Gezer, & Snow, 2012) answers this question from four areas of research.  Here are the basic findings:

Optimal conditions include:

  • higher family SES
  • strong home literacy practices
  • opportunities for informal L2 use
  • well-designed and well-implemented educational programs specifically for L2 learners
  • sufficient time for L2 literacy instruction

How can educators create some of these conditions?  The authors suggest:

  • encouraging home literacy practices by sending home books and other literacy materials
  • encouraging parents to read with their children either in their L1 or their L2
  • encouraging parents to take children to the library
  • in the classroom, mix L1 with L2 speakers and encourage informal conversation between them
  • in the classroom, set up extracurricular but integrated activities that encourage informal conversation
  • making sure classroom programs and lessons are research-based and well-implemented
  • make sure enough time is spent in L2 literacy instruction

There is a lot more to the findings in this literature review which I will summarize in forthcoming blogs.  I'll be telling you about what they found in answer to these questions: What are the characteristics of excellent or unsuccessful L2 learners? What are the characteristics of excellent or unsuccessful L2 teachers?  What are reasonable expectations for speed and accomplishment for L2 learners of different ages?  In the meantime, happy research-based teaching to you!

Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen
Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen


Leave a comment

Comments have to be approved before showing up.

Everyday ELL is now Every Language Learner.