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Understanding the Acquisition of English as an Additional Language

About this Resource

When students learn English as a second or additional language, they use existing language skills, language-learning strategies, and knowledge from their first language to understand, communicate, and become proficient in English.

It is different from the process of learning English as the first language because students build on an existing language base.

Various factors can influence the acquisition of English as an additional language, such as:

  • social environment
  • learning environment
  • personal characteristics and traits
  • skills, strategies, and abilities
  • previous experiences

Understanding the process of learning an additional language and the factors that can affect language acquisition helps teachers provide a supportive learning environment for English language learners. It also helps teachers select and use instructional strategies appropriate to the needs of individual students.

While the information presented in this section focuses specifically on how English language learners acquire English as an additional language, this information also applies to the way students learn any second or additional language.

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