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What factors affect the rate of acquiring English?

Factors Affecting the Rate of English Acquisition, by Charlotte Johnson, ESOL Teacher

  • Older children and adults learn faster because they have an existing framework. Remember that older children and adults also have more to learn and their academic work is more complex and demanding.
Amount of education in the native language
  • Education from the native language will transfer to the new language.
Amount of previous education in English
  • Students who have already studied English will have an advantage.
  • A positive attitude about the new language and culture will speed up acquisition.
Accommodations given
  • Students who have the proper accommodations will be able to access the language faster. Two crucial ones are:
    • Comprehensible input - simplified language, most of which is known to the student (i + 1)
    1. Lowered affective filter - a relaxed and supportive atmosphere in which to learn.
Native language
  • Indo-European languages are in the same “family” as English and make English more accessible, whereas a language like 
  • Chinese does not even use the same sound/symbol correlation.
Rhetorical differences
  • Those from cultures with very different rhetorical styles, such as Japan, will find the American style of writing more difficult to develop.
Cultural differences
  • Those from cultures very different from the American culture will have a bigger adjustment that may affect the rate of acquisition.
Literacy in the home
  • Those from highly literate homes will acquire English faster than those from homes with a low level of literacy.
Support from the home
  • The amount of support given in the native language and the value placed on education will have a major impact on the rate of acquisition.