Second language acquisition is a complex process that can take years to fully develop. Teachers need to understand the difference between "playground language" and "academic language."
Our students come to us with a variety of backgrounds. Some possess little to no knowledge of what school is like, many are not proficient yet in their native language, yet others are more than proficient and are ready for full language immersion.
All of these students will go through similar stages of language acquisition.
Knowing these stages will help the regular classroom teacher to understand how and why ESOL students progress at certain rates as well as how to best modify assessments for them.
There are many misconceptions about what second language acquisition really is.
There are also misunderstandings about why ESL students can converse fluently on the playground but do not achieve in the classroom.
Myth #1: Being around native English speakers will make learning it very simple for non-native speakers
Myth #2: Children acquire a second language faster than adults
Myth #3: Students should be encouraged to speak English right away
Why? Would you? I know I wouldn't, and didn't when I moved overseas.
Myth #4: If a student can speak just fine in English but their academic work is poor, there is good reason to suspect a learning disability
Myth #5: A second language student who lashes out and is disruptive is not only experiencing language issues but also is is exhibiting emotional disturbances
Most of these children are actually suffering from culture shock. People experience culture shock in a way that is similar to the stages of grief. In her book Getting Started with English Language Learners, Judie Haynes lists these stages as:
Go to one of these pages for more about second language acquisition and teaching ESOl students.