Myths about Second Language Learning

In the document ESL Standards for Pre-K-Students (TESOL, Inc. 1997), several myths about second language learning are discussed.

Myth 1: ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) students learn English easily and quickly simply by being exposed to and surrounded by native English speakers.

Fact: Learning a second language takes time and significant intellectual effort on the part of the learner. Learning as second language is hard work; even the youngest learners do not simply "pick up" the language.

Myth 2: When ESOL learners are able to converse comfortably in English, they have developed proficiency in the language.

Fact: It can take 6 to 9 years for ESOL learners to achieve the same levels of proficiency in academic English as native speakers. Moreover, ESOL students participating in thoughtfully designed programs of bilingual or sheltered content instruction remain in school longer and attain significantly higher rates of academic achievement in comparison to students without such advantages.

Myth 3: In earlier times immigrant children learned English rapidly and assimilated easily into American life.

Fact: Many immigrant students during the early part of this century did not learn English quickly or well. Many dropped out of school to work in jobs that did not require the kinds of academic achievement and communication skills that substantive employment opportunities require today. (TESOL, Inc., 1997, p. 3)

Last Modified: 5/12/2014 9:49:19 AM