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Conditions for language learning



The conditions necessary or helpful for second language acquisition depend on your goals and your beliefs. Though theories differ, most experts would agree on certain conditions.


ALL learners need the following conditions to reach Superior proficiency or greater in a second language:

  • Lots of comprehensible input
  • A chance to observe and participate in language use in a wide range of communication situations where common functions of language are expressed
  • A chance to understand the values and presuppositions of the speech community and to absorb the way people think and the knowledge they share
  • An opportunity to engage in meaningful communication and negotiation of meaning with mother-tongue or fluent speakers of the language

Many learners find the following conditions helpful or necessary:

  • Accountability
  • Conscious focus on rules of interaction and conversation
  • Interpersonal support and encouragement
  • Making a plan and consciously monitoring progress
  • Memorized survival expressions at the beginning
  • Some conscious focus on structure, and application of knowledge of rules

Look at the characteristics of learning a language in both formal and informal settings, including the special considerations of using a tutor, and see how they compare with these lists of conditions.


Gregory Thomson

Context for this page:

Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 3.5, published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 1999. [Ordering information.]

Page content last modified: 17 September 1998

© 1999 SIL International