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The Main Components of Language Learning and Language Teaching Essay

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Updated: May 13th, 2019

This essay involves a discussion on the main components of language learning and teaching within the sheltered approach of language acquisition which involves the incorporation of content and language while dealing with the learners of English language. The essay can therefore act as a guide to both the English Learners as well as their instructors. It contains the various teaching and learning approaches as well as the linguists behind the approaches of language acquisition.

The components of language learning and teaching can be grouped in terms of; cognitive, affective, and linguistic principles. There are various components of language learning which include; meaningful learning, automaticity, the anticipation of reward, strategic investment, self-confidence, intrinsic motivation, language ego, risk-taking, native language effect, inter-language, Language-culture connection and communicative competence.

On the other hand, there are several components of language teaching within the sheltered approach of instruction. They include; phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency and reading comprehension strategies.

The Main Components of Language Learning


This method of sheltered language learning involves appropriate movement of some language aspects into the involuntary processing of language features. It entails analyzing language and reflecting on its form while consciously evaluating its rules. This component helps the learner to acquire the language automatically (Brown 2007).

Meaningful learning

This involves the learner- based form of learning where the learner’s interests, goals and objectives are put into consideration. Meaningful learning leads to a better content retention as it focuses on a content based approach of language acquisition. It enables the absorption of new information into the existing information. This is quite different from rote learning which involves the exposure of new knowledge that is not related to the knowledge existing in a learner’s mind, making it less likely to stick.

As a matter of fact, in language development, children acquire meaningful language because they are able to relate words, phonemes and discourse features to the relevant existing knowledge. Meaningful learning involves the aural- oral method of teaching where the learners of a language are encouraged to listen to numerous English materials and participate in guided reading (Brown 2007).

The reward Anticipation

Universally, most human beings tend to work best while expecting some form of gains, which may be in form of long term or short term rewards. Nonetheless, even though we cannot underestimate the weight of giving rewards in a sheltered language lesson, language acquisition requires a more intrinsic reward (Snow & Griffin1998).

Intrinsic Reward

This refers to the inner motivation within the learner as an individual. Intrinsic motivation arises from a learner’s strong desire to meet his/ her goals. For this reason, little or no external reward is given as the learner’s actions are self motivated (Snow & Griffin1998).

Strategic Investment

In order to be an efficient language learner, one needs to invest a lot in the process of language acquisition. This may be through investing time as well as finances to purchase the required learning materials. Indeed, the learner should take the most responsibility in developing successful communication skills in a given language (Cummins1992).

Language Ego

As one endeavors to acquire a second language, he/she develops some form of language superiority which could trigger the process of language acquisition. However if not properly handled, this ego can lead to inhibition of language acquisition (Rodriguez 1988)

Self Confidence

The efficiency in language acquisition is mostly attributed to the learner’s believe in his/her capability to acquire the language. In regards to DiPietro’s Strategic Approach of language learning, proper planning as well as positive criticism in the part of the instructors enable learners are to achieve self confidence, an important tool in language acquisition (Brown 2007).

Risk Taking

Efficient language learners must be ready to take risks in the process of language acquisition. This can be achieved through the application of an undying effort to handle language that is beyond one’s capacity. However, they should not over do this, but rather they should attempt it in the most realistic manner (Cummins1992).

Language Culture Connection

When learning a language, it is extremely important to deeply explore the culture that encompasses the language. The customs, way of thinking and values in a particular culture are crucial in understanding a second/foreign language. The language instructors should also make good use of this knowledge in order to achieve maximum benefits (Collier &Thomas1992).

Native Language Effect

In order to be efficient in their language acquisition, language learners should highly rely on their native language knowledge while determining the interconnectedness within the language features. As a matter of fact, the minds of children are trained in such a way that they can classify the phonemes in their native language.

This may however vary with the English phonemes and pose hindering effects. (Antunez 2001). Thus, it is of great importance that a second language learner identifies and understands the principles used in his/her native language.


In order to gain competence in a foreign language, learners should learn to appreciate feedback not only from other sources but also from themselves (Clay1993).

Communication Competence.

Efficiency in communication is the ultimate goal of every language learner. For this reason, it is important for a language learner to learn all the aspects of language which involve strategic, pragmatic, psychomotor and organizational components of a language. This may entail the understanding of the structures of a language as well as the context of language for fluency as well as accuracy within the language (Moat1999).

The Main Components of Language Teaching

Phonemic awareness

A phoneme refers to the minimum unit of a spoken language. It refers to the sounds of a language. A combination of Phonemes forms syllables while many syllables form words.

The English language has got 41 phonemes. For instance, the word shirt has three phonemes (sh-ir-t).

In general, an individual’s ability to recognize and maneuver these phonemes in the spoken word is referred to as phonemic awareness. It can also be used to refer to the understanding that the sounds of spoken language work together to form words (Cummins1989).

When teaching ELLs in phonemic awareness, one should consider various things. For instance, some phonemes are absent in an English learner’s local language which may make it a bit complex to articulate and make a distinction of the phonemes through hearing.

This may also pose challenges to the learner while placing a given phoneme in the right context. While teaching the English language, it is crucial that the instructor links instructions to meanings, making the sounds and words obtain the required familiarity. For this reason, the English language learners should be equipped with the English vocabularies required for them to understand phonemes.

The instructors of ELLs should therefore incorporate the meanings and pronunciations of vocabularies with phonemic awareness. To be effective in creating phonemic awareness in the English language, instructors should also learn and comprehend the linguistic features of the learner’s first language. He/she should take account of the phonemes that are found in the learner’s first language as well as those that are absent (Cummins1989).

Research indicates that, significant language activities are crucial in capturing the learner’s interest in language learning. They enhance the learner’s response during this process. Such activities may include word walls as well as constant speech games which focus on exact letters and phonemes (Clay1993).

In addition, language instructors should always consider the use of poetry and songs while teaching phonemic awareness. This is because the use of poems and songs creates rhythm and repetition making it easy to memorize some aspects of language and thus enhances remembrance (Antunez 2001).This notwithstanding, the learners should always be involved in coming up with relevant rhymes that exist in their native language (Escamilla1987).


Phonics is a term used to refer to the teaching of the relationship that exists between alphabetic letters and phonemes. While teaching the English language, the instructors put into consideration the fact that the sounds of a language corresponds to the graphemes in the language.

Here, graphemes refer to the alphabetic letters as well as spellings that correspond to sounds in written lingo. The English language learners should make use of the relationship between graphemes and sounds to identify recognizable words and to make sense of new words.

The teaching of phonics focuses on the instruction of a reading style that uses the knowledge on the correspondence of letters and sounds to achieve effective reading and spelling of words. The main objective of this teaching method is to make the learners appreciate the fact that there is a logical and conventional association between written letters and phonemes.

When teaching phonics to the English language learners, one should put several things into consideration. For instance, learners who do not know how to write in their language may have difficulties in comprehending some phonic ideas, hence the need to teach the purposes of print. In some cases, an instructor may encounter learners whose system of reading and writing in the native language may not correspond with the English language.

For example, a student ‘s first language system of reading and writing may be in such a way that, the alphabetic letters in written language match with varying sounds to those in the English language. This can be explained by the Chinese logographic writing approach where a single written character corresponds to a unit that has meaning/morpheme. On the other hand, the Spanish language contains some similar letters to those of the English language, which correspond in the same way to those in the English language.

These letters include; c, d, l, m, p and q. As a result, many Spanish learners who are learning the English language in America require minimum instruction in phonics with regards to these consonant letters. On the contrary, while most vowels in Spanish are similar to those in the English language, they are named in a different way and correspond to completely different phonemes. For this reason, the Spanish students learning the English language encounter some challenges when dealing with the vowel sounds (Antunez 2001).

Vocabulary development

Vocabulary development involves instructions on pronunciation and meanings of words needed for effective communication in a second language. When a language learner comes across a word and articulates it correctly, he/she is able to discern its meaning on the basis of his/her knowledge of the word. In case the learner does not comprehend what the word signifies, he/she may not know if the word has been used correctly in a sentence.

The learner may also not get the meaning of that particular word in a given sentence. Consequently, instruction on vocabulary development is vital in the understanding of comprehensions. It is extremely difficult to comprehend what one is reading unless he/she is aware of the meanings of most words in a passage.

When teaching English language learners on vocabulary development, there are various issues that an instructor should put into consideration. For instance, besides teaching on the various vocabularies within the English language, the context should also be a matter of great concern as it contributes greatly to one’s understanding of a text. As a matter of fact, an English learner can read a text within the correct principles of phonetics but fail to comprehend due to lack of appropriate vocabularies.

It is possible for students to read completely phonetically and not comprehend what they have read because they do not have the vocabulary. Thus, teaching vocabulary should be done in an explicit way and should also be incorporated within the curriculum in teaching the English language. This should be done in classes that specialize in teaching English Language Development (ELD) as well as English as a Second a Language (ESL) (Collier &Thomas1992).

Research on terminology development points out that, more often than not, kids acquire vocabularies indirectly through the following means; Extensive reading, conversations with grownups and by paying attention to other people as they read. As a result, it is important to note that, children’s parents and guardians may influence their fluency in the language. Instructors in the English language should identify and integrate direct ways while teaching vocabulary.

These ways should involve teaching on dictionary usage, application of context hints, and the explicit method of teaching vocabularies prior to comprehension reading as well as the use of suffixes as well as prefixes to decode the meanings of words. While dealing with literacy progress, it is important to note that an instructor can teach language proficiency for daily communication, (Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills /BICS), as well as the ability to understand and maneuver language within any context (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency/CALP).

This indicates that, educators of the English language should be equipped with the right knowledge to instill cognitive language development which enables learners to comprehend any particular subject in any given context (August & Hakuta, 1997).

Reading fluency

Fluency refers to one’s proficiency in reading words effortlessly in terms of swiftness and precision. A good reader identifies and understands words concurrently. Fluent reading is indispensable while reading texts.

As a matter of fact, a child who is capable of reading fluently is most likely to comprehend and memorize the contents of a text as compared to one who reads with a lot of difficulties. While teaching fluency, a language instructor should bear in mind the two reading approaches.

The fist one involves aided and frequent verbal reading which persuades learners to read loudly with assistance as their instructors comment. The other approach of reading involves silent reading with minimum guidance from the instructors (Escamilla1987). When teaching fluency, various factors should be put into considerations.

Most education scholars recommend that, in order to be fluent readers, children should first be taught to read in their native language, failure to which they should be involved in frequent listening to readings. English language learners should always endeavor to read various books aloud together with the help of fluent readers (Antunez 2001).

Indisputably, learning how to speak the native language has tremendous influence on a child’s ultimate fluency in a second language. In addition, one’s proficiency in the spoken language forms a basis for successive learning of the alphabetic standards. An understanding of the principles used in forming the spoken English words leads to proficient comprehension within the written language.

Reading comprehension strategies

Reading and critical analysis of a comprehension is the ultimate objective of a language instructor. The main aim of gaining proficiency in the preceding skills is to facilitate efficient comprehension in texts. Similarly, comprehension reading enhances the proficiency in the skills above.

As a matter of fact, comprehension reading is directly linked to the awareness and growth of vocabularies. According to Norm Chomsky, a renowned linguist, the understanding of a language involves an active process that calls for a deliberate and cognitive contact between a learner and the text (Collier&Thomas1992).

When instructing English language learners, there are various things that should be put into consideration. For instance, a leaner’s ability to listen and understand spoken language is influenced by his/her oral awareness on the words that he/she can hear. This is also the case in learning written language.

For you to understand what you are reading, you ought to have an understanding of the language as well as the vocabularies within the language. Teaching figurative language should also be considered. A student learning the English language as his /her second language is likely to interpret ‘crocodile tears’ literally.

Thus, it is wise for the instructors of a language to scan a text prior to teaching. Learners should also be encouraged to analyze the stories in a text both clearly and critically. The instructors of the English language should also ensure that their students come into contact with advanced texts (Antunez 2001).

In conclusion, the English language program should incorporate English language development (ELD) within its curriculum. Undeniably, for the English language learners to achieve the desired competence in language, they should put more emphasis on the meaningful approach of language acquisition. They should also ensure fluency in their native languages and practice loud reading while using the English texts.

Similarly, it is crucial for the instructors of the English language to be equipped with the necessary facts about their students’ first language. A sheltered English language lesson should also involve several captivating learner activities. Moreover, the lesson should be well planned and taught and should employ the current communicative language teaching methodology (Collier&Thomas1992).

Reference List

Antunez, B. (2001).English Language Learners and the Five Essential Components of Reading Instruction. London: Cambridge Publishing Press

August, D. & Hakuta, K. (1997). Improving schooling for language-minority children: A research agenda. Washington, DC: National Research Council.

Brown, H. (2007). Teaching by Principles an Interactive Approach to Language. New York: Prentice Hall

Clay, M. (1993). Reading Recovery in English and other languages. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Collier,V. & Thomas, W. (1992). A synthesis of studies examining long-term language minority student data on academic achievement, Bilingual Research Journal, 16(1-2), 187-212.

Cummins, J. (1989). Empowering minority students. Sacramento, CA: California Association for Bilingual Education.

Cummins, J. (1992). Language proficiency, bilingualism, and academic achievement, In The multicultural classroom: Readings for content-area teachers. White Plains: Longman.

Escamilla, K. (1987). The relationship of native language reading achievement and oral English proficiency to future achievement in reading English as a second language. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.

Moats, L.C. (1999). Teaching reading is rocket science: What expert teachers of reading should know and be able to do. Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers.

Rodriguez, A. (1988). Research in reading and writing in bilingual education and English as a second language: Bilingual Education and English as a Second Language. New York: Garland Pub.

Snow, C., Burns, S., & Griffin, P. (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

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