The Secrets of Second Language Acquisition

Second Language Acquisition

The process of learning a second language, sometimes referred to as second language acquisition or SLA, can be a challenging one. You’ll often hear that children are best suited to take on learning a second language because their brains are more malleable. But in truth, the way children acquire a second language has lessons we can all heed to make language learning successful at any age.

What is second language acquisition?

Second language acquisition (SLA) is not only the process involved in becoming bilingual, but also a field of study in its own right that seeks to understand the process of learning a language other than your first language. SLA embraces disciplines as varied as linguistics, computer science, cognitive science, psychology, education, and anthropology. By better understanding the processes at work, we can design more effective learning materials for our learners.   

How long does second language acquisition take?

The time frame in which second language acquisition takes place is highly dependent upon a single variable—you. Your commitment to practicing daily and making language learning a priority is the single biggest factor in how quickly you’ll learn a language. Depending on your schedule and progress, you could breeze through the first three stages of second language acquisition in a matter of weeks or months.

What’s the best way to accomplish second language acquisition?

Another key factor in how quickly you’ll gain the confidence to speak a second language is the type of learning method you use. While there is some benefit to finding an approach that suits your learning style, not all language learning programs or methods are created equal. Quality language learning programs tend to yield better results than freebie apps because programs like Rosetta Stone employ proven learning strategies.

5 secrets to successful second language acquisition

Acquiring a second language can be challenging, and there are some considerations to keep in mind when you’re deciding whether to take on the endeavor. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin your second language acquisition journey.

1: Age isn’t the primary factor in successful second language acquisition

You often hear that learning a second language is easier when you’re young. But research indicates there may be more to this theory than meets the eye. While younger language learners seem to be more successful in acquiring a second language, it may not necessarily be because of age or age-related cognitive abilities.

In fact, studies have shown a more conclusive factor in the success of second language acquisition is exposure to the language and motivation. Adults that have sufficient daily exposure and cultural motivation for learning a second language do just as well long-term acquiring a second language as younger learners.

2: We can learn a lot from children about second language acquisition

When children learn their first language, it seems to happen naturally and without effort. There are a few insights we can use to duplicate the success of that process. First, children spend months and years absorbing language in an immersive environment before they ever speak aloud. And they are already comfortable with the reality of being a learner, a mindset they assume daily to tackle a myriad of new tasks from climbing the stairs to opening cupboards.

Another key insight is that children are intrinsically motivated to speak because it helps them engage and interact with others. Children are completely uninterested in a language’s web of grammatical rules, which they may learn much later in life as an afterthought.

3: Immersion is key to second language acquisition

We can infer from the way children learn a language that it’s not only exposure but immersive environments that are vital to successful language acquisition. In fact, studies cite specific cognitive benefits that language learners in immersion environments receive versus those that are simply monolingual. Immersive environments are defined as those where the language is constantly and consistently spoken, regardless of whether or not the learner fully understands what is being said. Fortunately for language learners, you don’t have to travel to create dynamic immersive environments that promote language learning.

4: The benefits of second language acquisition extend beyond being bilingual

Research has proven there are many benefits to being bilingual, but even experiencing the process of second language acquisition has inherent advantages. Language learners who can speak another language confidently are better able to recognize sound patterns across multiple languages, making them more adept at third or even fourth language acquisition. And the process of language learning can stimulate problem-solving and mental flexibility, resulting in better overall academic and cognitive performance.

5: Second language acquisition is worth it

It can be a challenging endeavor and it requires commitment, but second language acquisition is worth it. It’s not just about the leg up it’ll give you on your résumé or the bragging rights you’ll have when you can chat with the cab driver on your next trip abroad. It’s also the ability to connect with others and the opportunities second language acquisition presents to become a more engaged citizen of the world.

Does Rosetta Stone really help with second language acquisition?

We may be biased, but there are a few obvious reasons Rosetta Stone should be your first choice as you begin the process of second language acquisition. First and foremost, Rosetta Stone developed the Dynamic Immersion® method, which is the basis of every lesson, by studying the way in which children learn a language while replicating those strategies and learning environments. Secondly, Rosetta Stone knows life is mobile, so the app is designed to enable maximum exposure to a second language. You can learn through your day, whether you’re listening to lessons during your commute or trying out vocabulary scavenger hunts on your lunch break.

And last but not least, Rosetta Stone encourages speaking from the very first lesson by sidestepping vocabulary memorization and grammar rules and getting to the heart of real-world conversations. With Rosetta Stone by your side, you’ll find yourself learning the language, not just the words. And that distinction makes all the difference.

Want to start acquiring a second language? There’s no time like the present.