A Review of the Literature on Second Language Learning

Written Dr. John Archibald,  Dr. Sylvie Roy and other researchers at from the Language Research Centre (LRC), of the University of Calgary, A Review of the Literature on Second Language Learning, 2nd ed. Published in 2006, this study examines 4 key areas:

  1. Effects of a second language on a person’s first language
  2. The role of content instruction in offering a second language
  3. Effects of second language learning on students with special needs
  4. Effects of learning and third language on students for whom English is a second language.

Some key findings of this research are:

  • Exposure to a second language can enhance non-linguistic skills such as divergent thinking, attitudes towards others and math skills.
  • Acquiring knowledge in a second language does not impede first language development.
  • Significant time investment is required to acquire full fluency.
  • Content-based language teaching (e.g. teaching math or science in a second language) can increase students’ ability to make connections between second language study and the outside world.
  • Students with special needs can learn second languages.
  • Acquiring a third language is a common occurrence around the world.
  • It helps to learn a third language if you have a strong proficiency in a first language.

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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