Second Language Acquisition (SLA) as a dynamic and interdisciplinary field has spurred many discussions in understanding how people acquire a second or additional language. It has also opened up dialogues about identity, education, bilingualism, multilingualism, immigration and policy making. So, how does one acquire a second language? As Ortega (2009) notes, there are universal influences that affect second language learning which include age, mother tongue, environment and cognition. With these factors at play, what are some of the effective approaches to second or additional language learning?
I started a course at OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) in the summer of 2014 called Holistic Approaches to Classroom Technology to widen my experience with technology and its educational uses. As a pedagogical approach, let's look at what holistic learning entails. Karsten (2014) provides a succinct outline:
Holistic Learning is based on the principle of interconnectedness and wholeness. Thus the student is seen as a whole person with body, mind, emotions and spirit.
Holistic Learning seeks a dynamic balance in the learning situation between such elements as content and process, learning and assessment, and analytic and creative thinking.
Holistic Learning is inclusive in terms of including a broad range of students and a variety of learning approaches to meet their diverse learning needs.
As an adult ESL teacher, I constantly think of ways on how I can optimize my students' learning. Schwarzer (2009) suggests looking at adult learners as a "whole", viewing them as "adults with accomplishments, responsibilities, relationships, personal histories, and hopes" (p. 28). In short, the whole language approach advocates that we look at adult learners as whole persons rather than just ESL learners. It asks us to see the learners in our classes as parents, spouses, employees or business owners, neighbors, churchgoers, and members of various communities. As such, this website is aimed at employing the whole language philosophy in teaching ESL students in line with the holistic approach in education. The content is specifically designed to reflect authentic English as well as encourage discussion and communication between myself and my students and amongst themselves. As Ellis (1999 in Schwarzer, 2009) elucidates: "The ultimate goal of learning a language is to be able to communicate and interact with the people that speak it. Interaction is what happens when two or more people exchange ideas and negotiate meaning in order to prevent (communication) breakdowns." In addition, renowned SLA researcher Stephen Krashen, in relating theory and practice, reveals that dividing teaching programs (as traditionally done) into writing, speaking, reading and listening has been proven to be ineffective (1981). This is because teachers find these divisions to be artificial (ibid). Looking at my adult ESL students as whole persons, I designed this website to help them learn English more effectively and engage them in a learning environment that is both dynamic as well as interactive. SOURCES:
Ellis, R. (1999). In Schwarzer (2009).
Best practices for teaching the whole adult ESL learner. New
Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. 121, 25-33. DOI: 10.1002/ace.322.
Karsten, S. What is holistic learning? http://astralsite.com/holistic/HolisticLearning.html.
Retrieved August 8, 2014.
Krashen, S. Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Pergamon
Press, Inc. Available from: http://sdkrashen.com/content/books/sl_acquisition_and_learning.pdf Ortega, L. (2009).Understanding Second Language Acquisition (1st
ed.). London, GB: Hodder Education. Schwarzer, D. (2009) Best
practices for teaching the whole adult ESL learner. New Directions for
Adult and Continuing Education. 121, 25-33. DOI: 10.1002/ace.322.