Stages of Language Learning

June 1, 2010 / by Rachel Reardon

stepsI recently read an interesting article on the Stages of Second Language Acquisition.

I found this to be really helpful to understand where I am in the different languages that I speak. I have always said that because I studied Spanish and lived in Spain for a summer that I understand far more Spanish than I can speak. I always feel a bit inept when it comes to communicating exactly how I feel in Spanish.

Here are the stages she discusses in the article:

1) The Silent Period: in this stage, most students understand more than they can produce. They can understand when someone speaks to them but they cannot express their ideas in the same way. They can answer “yes” or “no.”

2) Early Production: learners can answer some “yes” or “no” questions. They use repetitive language patterns to express ideas and they try to express concepts by using one or two words only. They cannot find the words to make complete sentences.

It is important to bear in mind that comprehension precedes production. This is especially true in Second Language Acquisition. You can always understand more of a language then you can produce.

3) Speech emergence: In this stage, learners can communicate with simple phrases and sentences. They will ask simple questions that may or may not be grammatically correct. It is common to see that they will start some short conversations.

4) Intermediate Fluency: at this stage, learners are using more complex sentences when speaking and writing. They can express opinions and share their thoughts. They also have the ability to formulate questions in order to ask for clarification.

5) Advanced Fluency: a student at this stage will be near-native in their ability to perform in the second language, although there may be some gaps, especially when it comes to idiomatic uses of the language.

First, I should say, I am not a native Spanish speaker, but I want to be able to communicate exactly how I do in English. I know...this is asking a lot. The great thing about Mango is that we teach conversation right away. I really enjoy the practice I get from using our conversations to help maintain my language skills. In addition, I watch Spanish television and movies. I love Spanish music and even read an occasional People magazine in Spanish.

What stage are you at in your language learning journey and how are you getting to the next stage?

Topics: Language Learning and Culture

Rachel Reardon

Written by Rachel Reardon

Rachel works with some of the coolest marketers, designers, and writers around to help Mango look and sound its best. She loves bold colors, old books, the Montréal metro, and Star Trek. She has conflicting feelings about the Oxford comma.

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