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Creating the environment, in which second language learners (DLLs) are capable of acquiring the related knowledge and train the corresponding skills in an efficient manner is a challenging task, primarily, because of the numerous prejudices that are surprisingly popular even among experienced educators. In his article, Myths and Misconceptions about Second Language Learning: What Every Teacher Needs to Unlearn, Marry McLaughlin addresses some of the most popular yet nonetheless wrong ideas about the process of learning and teaching a second language. Although some of the ideas voiced by the author might seem common knowledge, the lack of their application in the contemporary SLL environment is what makes the process of teaching ESL students increasingly more complicated.
According to McLaughlin, the outstanding abilities that every child supposedly has toward second languages is one of the most dangerous myths that have been swarming around the designated area. In other words, though children show outstanding abilities in acquiring the skills related to their native language, the ones related to second ones have not been proven.
Therefore, by assuming that children have intrinsic abilities to learn second languages, a teacher is likely to set the expectations that are too high for the students. Similarly, language skills are not in inverse proportion to age, and nor is the time spent on immersing in the ESL environment. Finally, the ability to speak the second language does not mean being proficient in it for a child. McLaughlin has provided a brief overview of the most common misconceptions that teachers have about their young students, therefore, helping the former get a better understanding of the latter.
The ideas suggested by McLaughlin can be deemed as fairly sensible as a range of studies points to the same phenomena observed among young learners. Therefore, the content, as well as the arguments provided can be considered one of the strong aspects of the article. In addition, a perfect understanding of learners’ needs should be mentioned as one of the article’s key assets.
Unfortunately, the paper also has several problems. For example, the author’s ideas are not supported by trustworthy resources throughout the paper. Although McLaughlin makes at some points rather efficient use of the articles chosen as the foundation for the research, the lack of consistent support for his arguments is, nevertheless, consistent in the study. Therefore, McLaughlin could have made better use of the resources available.
In addition, the title and, therefore, the topic of the report is very broad; it invites the opportunity to discuss a large variety of myths concerning the process of teaching young learners a second language. The author, in his turn, addresses only four issues out of all possible ones. Granted that the issues raised by McLaughlin were a novelty at the time that the article was published, the opportunities that the author missed by focusing solely on the problems discussed are still far too vast. By narrowing down the scope of the study, McLaughlin could have set the readers’ expectations lower and, therefore, prove that his discoveries were truly groundbreaking, thus, redefining the history of teaching. However, as is, the article, nevertheless, is an impressive piece of information that sheds a lot of light on the education process, suggesting that the approach used at the time should be altered so that learners could attain greater success.
Application and Ideas About the Article
Although written comparatively long ago, the article has not dated much. As it has been stressed above, the idea of children possessing intrinsic abilities to acquire second-language-related competencies remains a powerful misconception in contemporary society (McLaughlin 5-7). Which is even more threatening, the myths mentioned above remain popular among a range of parents, thus, preventing their children from learning the necessary skills efficiently.
Therefore, speaking of the application of the information provided by the author, one should consider the program aimed at teachers, learners, and parents alike. The program aimed at promoting a proper approach to teaching young students a second language will supposedly allow teachers get rid of the myths mentioned above, serve as the premises for children to acquire the necessary competencies, and allow parents to realize the datedness of some of the ideas that they still support.
In other words, the article written by McLaughlin has prompted not merely a more reasonable teaching behavior and a more sensible teaching strategy but an entire program that will presumably help SLL learners and their teachers find common grounds.
The significance of the family support mentioned above is especially important in the program mentioned above. While changing the framework of teachers’ strategies, as well as studying the way, in which children acquire the related information, instructors will have to encourage parents to assist their children in the process of learning a second language. Thus, while the article states the ideas that have already been introduced in the contemporary education environment, is also prompts a variety of initiatives for second language teachers to consider.
McLaughlin, Barry 1992, Myths and Misconceptions About Second Language Learning: What Every Teacher Needs to Unlearn. PDF file.