Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stages of language aquisition and a different view of academic language

Sent to Language Magazine, Sept. 29, 2015

It should be pointed out that the five stages included V. Williams' proposals on developing academic language ("Building to code," Language Magazine, 9/26: http://languagemagazine.com/?page_id=124487) were originally developed by the late Tracy Terrell, and were presented in our co-authored book, The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in the Classroom (1983).  (Dr. Williams may have been unaware of this because the book is out of print.)

Readers may also be interested in exploring proposals about the acquisition of academic language other than the plan Dr. Williams presented. See, for example, the arguments that we acquire academic language primarily through self-selected reading, with lighter reading providing the competence and knowledge that makes "heavy" academic reading more comprehensible. (e.g. Krashen, S. 2012. Developing academic proficiency: Some hypotheses. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, (2): 8-15, available at ijflt.com.). This view is more consistent with the theory underlying Prof. Terrell’s five stages.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

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