Stage One: The Silent Period

With two weeks to go before the first day of school, I’m back to looking for information on the dynamics of second language learning. I came across some interesting reads tonight and learned something of value:

The Five Different Stages of Second Language Acquisition.

Great! I’m a planner (actually I’m an engineer). But I like (need) to know what to expect. I dislike surprises, unless of course it involves cake or winning the lottery. But I digress…

Stage 1: The Silent Period.

“The first stage of the language acquisition process is called ‘The Silent Period’ simply because the students aren’t doing much talking yet. In some learners this period may be shorter or longer, ranging between 2 to 6 months, though it may take much longer too, depending on the exposure to the foreign language that the learner has.”

And from another site:

“…in the initial phase of the language acquisition process, there is typically a ‘silent period’ during which children acquiring a new language in natural settings are silent and concentrate on comprehension. And they may respond, if necessary, only in a non-verbal way or by making use of a set of memorized phrases.”

And finally, a ” ‘true’ second-language production may not emerge for several months; a silent period of six months’ duration is not unusual.”

The silent period is their response to intense learning and focus on comprehension. Comprehension comes before production. Of course!

One article describes the ability of adults being able to read and comprehend the concepts of an investment article.  For those new to that concept, it takes us a while to be able to relay the details back (e.g. production) with mastery.

More on the next four stages, as we approach them. But first, we’re on to the “silent period” in just two short weeks!

My sources:

http://www.eslteachersboard.com/cgi-bin/articles/index.pl?page=3;read=1677

http://homepage3.nifty.com/park/silent.htm

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Critical Components of Effective Bilingual Programs

More great stuff from our friends at Multilingual Mania. This time, five key components to a successful bilingual program:

http://multilingualmania.com/critical-components-of-effective-bilingual-programs/

Effective bilingual programs have:

  1. administrators and site instructional personnel who are knowledgeable and supportive of the goals and design of the bilingual program,
  2. highly qualified bilingual teachers,
  3. a clearly articulated program model design that is faithfully implemented at each grade level,
  4. multiple opportunities for parent involvement,  education, and support with an emphasis on topics pertinent to the bilingual program, and
  5. programs that utilize separation of languages and monolingual lesson delivery, to the best extent possible.

Ask questions. Get involved. Be patient. Be persistent.

Feeding off the Energy and Excitement

Could you feel the energy and excitement in the air today?

We had a school gathering during lunch time. The weather was lovely. Kids were running everywhere. Parents were socializing. We are forming a new community, united not only by language (there are many spoken amongst our families), but by the desire for our children to have something unique for their education program, a path less traveled, but destined to be successful.

Our youngest students got to meet their teachers today. What a gift! We really have been blessed with finding such talented, experienced, and passionate staff. There is so much love for children and passion for learning (and teaching).

There were huge smiles today. Hands held. Hugs given. Friends made.

We are four weeks from our opening day of school. But really, our journey has already started.