What Works for Language Acquisition: A Consensus Emerging?

Whether directly or by independent discovery, the type of scaffolding approach to education pioneered by the Russian psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, is beginning to transform how language acquisition is understood and how language is taught in formal settings. Below are a few examples that have lately been making a lot of buzz around Alaska.

Literacy, Academic Language & ESL

Scaffolding Literacy - this approach has been pioneered in Australia. It is effective in its own right for helping indigenous, ELL & other learners close the achievement gap with their more privileged peers. However, it is also a very good place to start if one wishes to better understand what it is about other methods, such as ASLA & TPR-S (see below), that make them effective language acquisition methods.
  • Providingaccesstoacademic-literatediscourseforindigenouslearners.pdf - this 4 page article provides background information on how the method was developed to help close the achievement gap for Aboriginal students in the Australian Bush. It also, gives a very good summary of the method.
  • Reading to Learn - this website by David Rose contains lots of info about this method and even, it looks like, how this method can be applied to to teaching of the oratory forms of indigenous languages.

Native Language Revitalization

ASLA (Accelerated Second Language Acquisition) - created by Neyooxet Greymorning, an Arapaho Indian, this method is currently in use here in Alaska on the North Slope & to a lesser extent in the Southeast & Aleutian Pribilof regions. It's users have found it to be a very effective way to reintroduce one's Native language to children & other community members who never learned to speak it well and even to teach them how to speak it fluently in a short time.

World Language Instruction & All of the Above

TPR-S (TPR-Storytelling) - while this method probably has its largest fan base among teachers of the traditional "foreign" languages. It is also used by many ESL teachers and comes highly recommended as a method for teaching indigenous languages. Unlike ASLA, it places less emphasis on immediate oral production and does allow for translation into L1 to support comprehension.