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Language Education Theories

A second language is any language that is taught after a person has learnt the first language mostly his or her mother tongue. Some of the languages are often regarded as auxiliary languages and are often used as second language. The first language is not necessarily the dominant language or the language that one is conversant with. For example, In Canada, there are some languages that are regarded as mother tongue but are not first because they are not often used but a language that was learnt in childhood and is still used is the one that is regarded as first language. Language attrition may occur when a child moves to a new environment as a result of immigration or international adoption.

ESL (English as a second language) is learning English language by speakers of another language. It’s also referred as ESOL (English for speakers of other language) and EFL (English as a foreign language). These are the terms that are commonly used in teaching and learning English (Meddings and Thornbury, 2009).

Teaching English as a foreign language refers to teaching English to students whose first language is not English. There are various theories that are used to teach English to students that are not native English speakers. Books and through the use of modern technology like software are the most commonly and widely used mode of teaching English.

The distinction between acquiring and learning was first done by Krashen Stephen in 1982 and he regarded it as a Monitor Theory. The Monitor Theory is a natural process where the learning of a language is a conscious. Long before, the students were supposed to take communicative lessons unlike the modern days where books and software are used in leaning (Luke, 2004).

The use of books has some advantages and disadvantages. Using books enables the learners get the real meaning and easy pronunciation of any given word in English, its easy to teach the student giving a detailed and convincing meaning of the word than how it would be through the oral teaching. Through the book, the teacher is able to follow a given formula or sequence of teaching (Meunier and Granger, 2008).

Books give a uniform translation or meaning of any given word or term. This has enabled the English teacher give the same meaning of the word which also gives a student better understanding and mastering capability.

The biggest problem with the book is that it cannot give a voice teaching which also helps the student have better understanding, for example learners and runners. In some first languages, they may have either “R” and may not have “L”, and this will confuse the student as he/she is used to pronounce one letter in all his sentences. Through the use of books, the student may not be able to make translations from some languages like Chinese, Greek, Arabic and several other languages, the writing style is very different from English and may require better understanding and capability of the students’ first language.

With the advancement of the modern technology, the use of software in teaching English as a second language has been in use in different parts of the world. Software can either be downloaded or be purchased in form of a Compact disc. Software are viewed as best in teaching because they are customized and programmed such that they will give the actual information for teaching and can be commanded to give a lesson for any level of teaching; for instance, a beginner cannot be given the same lesson with an advanced learner. Software can give both voice and written training that enhances more understanding for the student and for the teacher in giving instructions. It’s easy to rewind and test yourself how better you have understood any given topic or lesson and get immediate response.

Compared to a book, software is far much better in teaching English though it has some advantages that limit its use. Software must be run by a given hardware that will be able to extract the required information from it and display to the end user, student and the teacher. On the other hand, the use of software is also limited because it also requires a know how of hardware operation as well as soft ware operation (Luke, 2004).


Luke, M. (2004). Throw away your textbooks. The Guardian. Web.

Meddings, L and Thornbury, S (2009) Teaching Unplugged: Dogme in English Language Teaching. Peaslake: Delta.

Meunier, F. and Granger, S. (2008) Phraseology in foreign language learning and teaching, Amsterdam and Philadelphia : John Benjamins Publishing Company,