First vs Second Language Acquisition

This is my first blog for RichmondShare and I must say I am honoured, and a little bit in awe, to be sharing a platform with such great writers and professionals.  After reading some of the other posts already on this site the pressure is on to write something new, entertaining, interesting and relevant.  If I manage to achieve one of those I’ll be happy.

Children learning together

It’s so much easier at this age                     (Dept of Children and Youth CC-BY-2.0)

There are two aspects to my life right now that take up a very large chunk of my time.  The first is teaching English and everything related to it like training and writing.  I have been doing this for the last 16 years or so and, as it is my job, it is obviously an important part of my life.  I found teaching more by accident than design, but I am very lucky because I love it.

The second part of my life is my son and everything related to him.  Along with my wife, we have been raising him to be bilingual Portuguese and English for the last two and a half years, and, because he is my flesh and blood, he is obviously another very important of my life.  Our son was more by design than accident, but we are still very lucky.

I am hoping to put these two large parts of my life together in a series of blogs here on RichmondShare over the coming months to look at some of the similarities and differences between how my son is learning to speak his first languages and how I and my students learn to speak a second language.  I am planning to look at the roles of drilling, error correction, language play and anything else that comes to mind in both types of language learning to see if there are any insights to be gained.

There is already a lot of academic material out there that looks at first and second language acquisition, so this won’t be too citation heavy.  At the same time, it won’t be just stories from a proud dad doting on the latest achievements of the greatest son in the entire history of the world (you can get more of that at Head of the Heard).

I hope you will enjoy looking at some of the comparisons I make and feel free to let me know when I am doting too much, talking nonsense or being too theoretical by joining in the discussions below the line.  Perhaps together we can create something that is new, entertaining, interesting or relevant.

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Stephen Greene

Stephen Greene is a freelance English teacher, teacher trainer and materials developer and has recently started to work as an online trainer for the British Council. He blogs about life bringing up a bilingual family in Curitiba in the south of Brazil at www.headoftheheard.com

6 thoughts on “First vs Second Language Acquisition

  1. Looking forward to reading the next one, Stephen! The anecdotal experiences you describe in Head of the Heard are usually much more fun to read than most SLA research studies, I can assure you! :-)

  2. Hi Stephen,
    Enjoyed your recent posting on Head of the Heard on FB. Looking forward to more! I spend a few months of the year in Rio and before I spoke any Portuguese, I remember having problems picking up simple words like ‘radio’ and ‘football’ because of L1 interference. Am also a teacher and teacher trainer (freelance).
    Catherine

    • Thanks for your comment Catherine.

      I have had similar problems to you the similarities between English and Portuguese. The worst word for me was ‘sandwich’, I just couldn’t force myself to say it with a Portuguese pronunciation for a long time. I have also noticed with my son that when the two words are similar he just picks one and sticks with it.

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