Upper School ESL Workshop: Unit 4 Slide 3 of 9
Presenter: Paul Shoebottom

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What are the differences between learning the first and second languages?

The table below shows a comparison of an infant learning his or her own language and a typical ESL1 student joining FIS in grade 7 with very little prior knowledge of English.

 First language Second language (English)
  Starting age: birth 12
  Time available: 24/7 about 8 hours a day
  Teachers: family, relatives, friends FIS teachers, family, peers
  Target: comprehension, communication comprehension, communication, academic success
  Motivation: very high usually high
  Advantages: low pressure, context-embedded, teacher patience, lack of inhibition knowledge about language/the world; greater cognitive abilities
  Disadvantages: undeveloped cognitive abilities, no knowledge of language or the world high pressure, context-reduced, inhibition
  Outcome: age 5 - perfect fluency/pronunciation/grammar; peer-competitive vocabulary age 17 - variable fluency/pronunciation/grammar; limited vocabulary; (academic success)

There's more about this on the ESL website.