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Emily Bennett

III. Language Acquisition Theories and Instructional Practices

I. | II. | III. | IV. | V. | VI. | VII. | Resume

       Based on linguistics theorists we have studied in this program, there are several salient points about language acquisition that I will mention.  The first is that I believe that motivation and attitude are strong factors in the success of learning of a second language.  I think that this idea ties in with the affective filter that Krashen talks about (Mitchel and Myles, 1998) because with this theory, childrens’ attitudes and emotions play a large part in whether or not learning is achieved.  When children feel frustrated and stressed, they do not have motivation to learn, but when the opposite feelings of excitement and self-confidence are present in a learner, they will be able to more easily develop the second language.
       Also, there are many people today who still believe that when children come to America, the fastest way for them to learn English is for them to forget the native language and immerse themselves in English.  I completely disagree.  According to several theorists, including Virginia Collier, the stronger the native language, the easier it will be for the student to learn the second language.  This also goes along with the Iceberg Analogy (Cummins, 1981) which says that two languages do not function separately, but both languages operate through the same central processing system.  Therefore, if you have learned something in your L1, you won't have to re-learn it in your L2, only find the new words for what you already know. 
       Below, I have attached two artifacts to display how I analyzed a student to decide her L2 level, and to devise strategies to help advance her learning of English.  The first artifact is a thorough analysis of Elena, including her background, recommendations, and data.  The second artifact shows the breakdown of her oral language abilities.
       I feel that in order to properly understand students' language abilities, a teacher should conduct in-depth analyses whenever possible, because the more information you can gather about a student's background, the easier it is to give proper instruction.



Language Analysis

Analyzing the Oral and Written Language of Elena Valasiadou

Emily Bennett and Patti Smith

George Mason University


In partial fulfillment of EDCI 516-004

Ginny Doherty



Elena Valasiadou, a thirty six year old from Greece is now living in Alexandria,
VA with her husband Dimitris.  Elena comes from a line of educators in
Greece with her father being the principal of a high school and her mother an
English teacher.  Even though her mother taught English, the only language ever
 spoken in the house was Greek due to the fact that her father had great
difficulty learning the English language.  Even now that Elena and her husband
are living and working in the United States they choose to speak Greek at
home and watch Greek television on satellite TV. 

            Elena moved here six years ago when her husband accepted a position in Washington D.C.  When she first arrived she spent the first two years teaching third and fourth grade in a private Greek School until it closed due to funding cuts.  After this, Elena applied to Fairfax County Public Schools to be a Head Start pre-school teacher.  Elena went to University in Greece for early childhood education and thought that she would have no problems getting a job.  She was right about easily getting a job, except that the school system required her to get fifteen additional credits in a two year time period in order for her to keep the position.  She didn’t think this would be too difficult as she studied English growing up and thought herself to be completely fluent. 

            She enrolled in her first class, which was an undergraduate science class.  She found the readings to be extremely difficult as the vocabulary was not what she was used to speaking.  She would have to read a little, then translate it into Greek in her mind and then repeat the process.  It would sometimes take her a few hours to complete one chapter.  Eventually she would enroll into graduate courses which proved to be even more difficult.  Writing papers were more difficult than comprehending the readings as she would have to think about what she wanted to say in Greek, then figure out how it translated into English, and then write it down.  She would always need someone to edit the papers for her to make sure there were no grammatical errors and that everything made sense.  Now that she has completed her course work here, she does feel her academic language is much better than it was when she first arrived, however she still has difficulty with graduate level texts as well as novels.  She does not read novels of any kind in English because it still takes her too long to comprehend and thus takes the fun out of reading. 

            Elena still has difficulty in the beginning of each year with her oral language as she goes home to Greece for the entire summer where she interacts only in Greek.  When she comes back it always takes her a few weeks to settle back into the English language especially following people when they speak on the phone or in very noisy places. 

            Even though Elena has difficulty comprehending text, her academic language is slightly lower than her oral language, her social language is very good.  She scored between a five and six on the Fairfax County Oral Rating scale which is at the advanced level for second language acquisition.  Her writing analysis would also prove to be the advanced level as an informal letter written to a friend was what was used for the analyses.  I do think that if we had her write about an educational topic she learned about through a textbook, the scoring might be more at the intermediate level. 

            Elena talked about the similarities between Greek and the English language which were the symbols in the alphabet, though not necessarily the phonetic sounds, the ‘s’ on the end for plural words and the use of some vowels.  There were many differences too such as the use of masculine and feminine articles in front of all nouns, much like Spanish and French. 

            Elena was chosen for the analysis because she was a teacher that works with many second language learners from the entire world and who has expressed her difficulty when studying in English.   She has always told us how hard it is to understand the various dialects of the English language and still has difficulty talking to some people that she just meets.   Talking to her provided us with a good insight on how people learn and the difficulties second language learners face.  We audio taped Elena over wine and cheese on her roof top terrace in Old Town, Alexandria which was extremely relaxed and provided us with a good social example.  We chatted about school, studying, moving, vacations and weekend outings.  It was a very enjoyable evening for all.

            In talking with Elena and then analyzing her speaking and writing patterns, it is obvious that second language acquisition is a long-term process that takes many years to reach mastery.  Elena began learning English at age ten and her mother was an English teacher, so we assumed Elena would be just as proficient in English as a native English speaker.  When listening to Elena talk, minor grammatical errors can be heard, but they do not affect the meaning of what she is saying.  Since her oral language is at a highly advanced stage of learning, we thought it would be presumable that her academic language would be almost as advanced.  In Elena’s case the relationship between the oral/social language and the academic language is quite intriguing.

            Elena’s success in learning the English language stems from the fact that she comes from a middle to upper class educated family with both parents in the education field.  Since her father was principal of her high school and her mother was the English teacher in the same school, there was a high level of expectation for her to succeed.  Elena received high marks throughout her school years and continued to do well in the university from which she graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education.  Her sociocultural development obviously stemmed from the strong motivation to learn backed by her parents.  This is supported by research on motivation in that it produces a greater likelihood of attaining high levels of L2 proficiency (Gardener and MacIntyre, 1991).              Elena’s motivation to learn English is very high today since she is living and working as a professional in America.  Even though she has lived and worked in the United States for over six years, she still carries a very heavy accent due to the fact that she speaks Greek at home with her husband, watches Greek television, and spends two months in Greece every summer where she has very little if any English exposure.   Her accent sometimes makes it difficult to understand what she is saying; for example, when she uses words with the short [u] vowel sounds she pronounces them with a short [o] sound.   When pronouncing the [oo] sound in words like ‘took’, she pronounces them all with the long [oo] sound like ‘boo’.  She also has slight difficulty using the diagraph [th] in words such as this, that and the.  She pronounces this sound more like a [d] and she often drops the ending sounds such as the [t] in that.  In addition to phonemic errors, she sometimes makes minor verb tense errors, in particular using ‘this’ instead of ‘that’ (e.g., When asked if she has been somewhere, she replies with, “Yes, I’ve been to this place,” rather than “Yes, I’ve been to that place”).  This could be due to the parameters of the way her first language is structured and how it may be different from the way the English Language is structured, as we know that all languages are not structured the same way (Mitchel and Myles, 2004).  When using nouns, she sometimes drops the article ‘a’ or ‘the’ but over-generalizes when using pronouns.  (e.g., “My teacher, she is very intelligent,” or “I went to the new Whole Foods, that place was very nice.”)  She uses the word ‘over’ in place of ‘for’ and although it makes sense, it is not used properly.  Her errors are consistent and it doesn’t take away from the meaning of the words once you tune your ear into her accent.  Elena still has very strong ties with Greece and would still be living there if her husband’s career did not bring her here.  While she enjoys living in America, her heart is with Greece, which is the reason she probably keeps such a heavy accent and may never have an accent of that of a native English speaker.  While these are some phonemic areas to improve upon, she has no difficulty with the plural form of [s] at the end of words, as that is a similarity among the Greek and English language, and she stated that it was an easy rule to learn as it was transferable.  

            During informal settings with American friends, Elena finds it difficult to understand the American dialect.  She learned English from Greek teachers with Greek accents and grew up watching British Television so her ear was accustomed to British English.  As a result, she often does not understand American figures of speech as well as jokes, and finds it difficult to tell jokes.  When she listens to others speak, she uses a variety of cognitive processes to comprehend and be part of a conversation.  She often squints as she is listening very hard and asks people to slow their conversations down so that she can understand clearly.  Learners apply a host of cognitive strategies and skills to deal with the task at hand:  they have to make use of associative skills, memory, social knowledge, and inferential skills in trying to figure out what people are talking about (Wong, Fillmore, 1991).   She re-words or re-states part of conversations to better comprehend and asks questions for clarification of vocabulary, often with food items and products she may not be familiar with, toys, games, sports and a variety of things that may not be used in her daily vocabulary.  These social/affective strategies enable her to interact with another person in order to assist learning, such as in cooperative learning and asking questions for clarification or using affective control to assist learning tasks (Chamot and O’Malley, 1994). 

            When listening to Elena speak, she uses a lot of hand movements to facilitate what she is trying to say and makes many hesitations within her sentences.  She says the words ‘you know’ as a filler throughout her sentences to figure out the words she wants to use in conversation.  In addition, she repeats herself often and is always clarifying her first statement as if she is unsure if the words made sense.  It takes her a while to make a clear picture of what she is trying to explain, though she knows when she makes errors and self corrects repeatedly. 

            Overall, we found her oral language to be advanced as well as her written sample, although in speaking with her, it is obvious that her comprehension of academic text in English is more challenging.

            When analyzing the transcription of her oral sample, her overall rating was a five out of six using the Fairfax County Public Schools ESOL Oral Proficiency Scoring Rubric.  She scored a five in productive communication as she teaches pre-school and uses English in the classroom and attends George Mason University and is able to function in discussion in the classroom.  She holds good conversation with some errors but they do not interfere with the meaning.  We feel that she is at this advanced stage due to the initial years of exposure to English, and one’s continuing cognitive and academic development in the first language is considered to be a key variable for academic success in the second language (Collier, 1995).  Elena speaks with near native like fluency although a heavy accent is prevalent and her hesitations do interfere with communication.  She uses a variety of structures with some occasional grammatical errors, which allow her to score a five in both the areas of fluency and structure.  Elena’s highest area is in that of vocabulary as she has an extensive variety of word usage, although she may lag behind the native speaker mainly due to influential cultural differences.  The area in which she needs the most work is in receptive comprehension because she understands classroom discussions with repetitions, rephrasing and clarification, but she said that she is still constantly translating what is being said when in graduate level classes taught in English.  After twenty years of learning English with some interruption during her years in University, we feel that her oral communicative stages in Second Language Acquisition should be higher than what she scored.  ESL learners need around two to three hours per day of quality interaction with native speakers during which time they are respected as equal partners in school (Collier, 1995).  This is Elena’s major downfall in progressing in second language acquisition.  She teaches pre-school for low income children, all of which are second language learners, some with limited proficiency or no proficiency at all.  She has little or no contact throughout the day with native English speakers as she is with her four year old students all day.  When she goes home, she speaks Greek with her husband, they both watch Greek television, and many of their friends are also Greek.  She also goes home to Greece for two months every summer where she has little or no contact with English, even though her mother was an English teacher.  Her father and friends prefer to speak in Greek, so that is what she speaks.  Here in America, she spends as much as eight hours a week conversing with English speaking friends in an informal setting and about two hours a week in a graduate level education class, but that is not enough to develop the language at a native speaker’s capacity. 

            Using the Fairfax County Public Schools Writing Sample Rubric, Elena scored a three out of four, which was advanced for an ESL learner, but not where we feel she should be after twenty years of studying the language.  Her written mistakes were similar to her oral mistakes but with more syntactic difficulties.  This does not correspond to the conclusion drawn by researcher, R. Weissberg (1998).  In a study conducted with five ELLs, he asked them to write every night in a personal journal at home, and then to come into class and write on an academic topic.  After he compared the two types of samples, he concluded that “The informality of a personal journal combined with the privacy of writing seems to have a positive effect in L2 acquisition."  Although we did not compare the two types of Elena's writing, we had expected that with her high oral proficiency level, she would have scored higher on her writing sample, since it was a personal letter written in private about a letter of her choice.  In the area of structure and composition, Elena scored a four, as she is able to stay on topic, provides a beginning, middle and end and tells a clear story throughout her writing; however, in the areas of voice and grammar/spelling she scored a three.  She sometimes uses run-on sentences and leaves out words in sentences, making it difficult to decipher meaning.  In addition, she sometimes confuses pronouns such as ‘me’ used instead of ‘you,’ which altered the meaning of what she was trying to get across.  Although she uses some descriptive words, her tone is flat and unexciting. She needs to use more of a variety of sentences and more descriptive words to paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind.  Her grammatical errors were consistent as she leaves out helping verbs, uses the wrong forms of articles like ‘at’ instead of ‘in’, and sometimes uses adjectives improperly.  She had some minor spelling mistakes as well as mistakes with plurals.  Elena said that when she writes in English, she has to think about what she wants to say in Greek, and then figure out how to word it in English, and then write what she wants to say.  She said it is still not natural for her to write easily in English because she does not have to do it very often.  Her emails to friends and family back home are in Greek and the emails she writes to her friends here are very short and to the point.  When she has to write papers for her graduate class, it takes her a very long time.  First of all, when she reads text in English, she says she has to stop after every paragraph and translate it into Greek so that she can comprehend it, and then write notes in English in which she is also going through translation.  Then, when she writes a paper about what she has read, she goes through the same process of translating.  Even though she took English classes growing up, she was not required to write papers at the level of a native speaker. 

            In addition to the writing piece, Elena made it clear that she does not read novels or even many magazines in English because it takes her too long to understand the meaning and simply takes the fun and enjoyment out of reading.  She has family members send over Greek magazines and newspapers and brings back best-selling novels each summer when she goes to Greece.  Overall, she is an advanced English speaker and writer but could use some more exposure to Native English in both social and academic settings.

            After analyzing Elena’s strengths in both oral and written English, we have several recommendations that we would make for her to improve her areas of weakness.

            Her hesitancy to read and write in English shows that she is not confident in these areas and should focus more on them to increase her reading and writing level to at least that of her oral language.  We would recommend that she start reading and writing regularly in English, in addition to continuing her advancement of reading and writing in Greek, as she is already doing.  With such a strong background and cognitive maturity in her L1, she has a very good chance of being able to transfer her knowledge of language structure, subject matter, and reading and writing skills to be able to advance quickly in English reading and writing.  This applies to an example provided by Virginia Collier, when discussing an English speaking adult trying to learn Korean.  She says, “While as an adult, you may be extremely frustrated in your attempts to use the new language for cognitively complex purposes, at least you have reached cognitive maturity in first language.  If you continue your acquisition of Korean you will eventually be able to apply your cognitive maturity to your second language.”  To create a comfort level and stimulate more interest in the English reading, she should choose books or articles in English that are far below her reading level in Greek.  We would start her on books that are written at the upper elementary school level, which would have simpler vocabulary words, preferably concerning subjects that would interest her, such as history of Greece, culture, or other captivating novels.  When she felt comfortable reading at the lower levels, she could gradually increase to a more advanced level.   

Becoming more comfortable in writing is also an important factor in her English knowledge.  Starting by writing letters to friends or journal entries about subjects she feels personal connections with would help her make English writing more of a standard practice in her life.  Then, after writing more often, she would eventually have less trouble writing in the academic setting, and eventually, when her writing is more fluent, she would not have to translate every sentence from Greek before writing it down. 

            Taking courses is a great idea for her, and this is something she is already doing at the graduate level.  Even though she has an education background, and is comfortable in the subject, the graduate level education classes include many new vocabulary words, and are particularly challenging for her at this stage in her academic reading and writing.  Registering for a course that would connect more with her life, or that she would have more vocabulary for, would be a better type of course for her a this point; for example, a Greek history course, an English phonology course or even cooking or art.

            The English phonology course would show her some ways that she could improve her accent.  Elena is not fully aware of her strong accent, which happens for many late arriving ELLs because they often find it difficult to hear the differences in some phonemic sounds.  Also, she began learning English at age ten, but was learning from Greek teachers who spoke English with Greek accents.  She only began to learn from native English speakers when she came to America as an adult.  The younger you are when you begin a second language, the less likely it is that you will retain or even develop an accent (Collier, 1997.)  Therefore, taking a practical phonology class that she could apply to her every day speech in English would be a meaningful and very helpful course for her. 

          The limited amount of hours Elena spends with native English speakers creates a problem in her oral pronunciation, as well as grammatical structure and vocabulary development.  There has been consistent agreement among many researchers that peer interaction is necessary in fostering the learning of second language.  (Faltis, 1993; Gaies, 1985; Malamah-Thomas, 1987; Shoemaker & Shoemaker, 1991; Wong Fillmore, 1989; 1991b).   Spending her days with second language learners who are all around age four, and with her teaching assistant who is Pakistani means that she is almost always around second language learners.  Spending her evenings and weekends with her Greek husband or Greek friends also means that she is not working on her English development.  It is recommended that she try to spend more time in social settings with native English speakers.  Also, we would suggest getting a tutor or mentor to help with the coursework she is taking, but who would also serve as a native English model for her and could help her with grammar structure in writing, as well as oral fluency.

            There are several consistent errors she makes when speaking and writing that we have previously mentioned.  These would warrant lessons to teach her how to correct these specific errors, because if she knew exactly which grammatical mistakes she repeatedly made, she could work to correct these by learning the proper structure.  This would eliminate a majority of her grammatical problems in both writing and oral language.  We would start with a lesson on pronouns and demonstrate that adding the extra pronoun after the subject is not necessary, providing many models and opportunities to practice this skill before moving on.  Another grammatical structure we would focus on would be the articles and when to use them.  Also, we would discuss the words “this” and “that” and the differences between these words and their usages.  We could also give specific phonics instruction and allow her to practice the short I, oo in “took”, and u in “study.”  Practicing these phonics sounds with a native speaker to guide her might help her to sound more fluent and have a more native-sounding accent.

            To correct her grammatical and phonological errors, as well as to improve her ease of reading and writing in English, she would greatly benefit from the recommendations we have provided.  However, we know that many of these would mean significant lifestyle changes for Elena, and therefore, they might not all be practical for her.  The more of our suggestions she could implement into her lifestyle, the faster her English would improve, but we think that it is likely she would add only a few of the suggestions and not all, resulting in only a slight improvement in her English over time, since the level she has now is enough to get her by in major daily activities.  This could be an example of fossilization at an advanced stage which is when a learner’s L2 system seems to ‘freeze’, or become stuck, at some more or less deviant stage (Mitchell and Myles, 1998).  Elena is very happy with her English speaking abilities and feels that her mistakes do not hinder her in any way while living in the U.S. but would like her reading abilities to become more advanced.


Reflection:  Emily Bennett

            Through this project, I have learned to look at second language learners as more varied and different from each other than I had previously expected.  I had thought that all second language learners went through more or less the same type of process in acquiring their new language.  Now I realize, after analyzing each aspect of Elena’s linguistic journey, that each learner is completely unique, and the process is complex.

            For Elena, her family’s education background led her to begin learning English at an early age, and her husband’s occupation brought her to become immersed in the language.  Based on these factors, she has a good base knowledge of the language, but is not as excited about being immersed as someone might be who came here on her own will, or for her own job.  I realize that background has so much more to do with success in second language acquisition than I had previously anticipated.

            Also, I learned that some people develop their oral L2 much faster than their written or reading comprehension in their L2, or vice versa.  It completely depends on the person and the situation that they are placed into.  With Elena, having limited chances to speak with native speakers, her accent is still very heavy, but having lived here for many years and using English to get her by in employment and social situations, she has become fairly familiar with oral speaking, although she still has some problems with grammatical structures because of lack of exposure to native speakers.  Therefore, depending on the daily schedule of a person, various aspects of second language development will happen faster than others.

            I thought about Elena’s grasp on English and compared it to my comfort level with Spanish.  I would estimate that I am at about the same level in Spanish that she is in English, and it makes sense, based on our situations.  I lived in Spain for six months with a family, primarily speaking Spanish all day, and taking university classes in Spanish there.  I had my first serious relationship there with someone who did not speak English, which lasted the duration of the trip, and which motivated me to learn the language more quickly.  Although I was there for a much shorter time than Elena has been here, I was a Spanish major, so when I returned to Penn State, I continued college level courses in Spanish, and sought out Spanish-speaking friends to fill that gap that opened up when I left Spain.  I feel that my motivation to learn the language was much higher than Elena’s because my heart was in it, I chose to study in the language, and I truly enjoyed it.  After college, I worked for a nonprofit in the Latin America division, allowing me to make trips to Central America, as well as spending a great deal of time reading and talking in Spanish for my job.  After that, I went back to get a Masters in Education, and the next year, found a job at a Spanish/English Dual Language school in Arlington.  I teach in English, but the teacher I partner with who teaches the Spanish to our students speaks Spanish with me every day.   I still make some grammatical errors, because I do not have enough hours of exposure to native Spanish conversations on a day-to-day basis, and I still have an accent that I’m sure does not sound native.  However, I can always get my point across, like Elena, and despite minor errors, I do not have many problems understanding people or explaining myself, unless it involves highly academic or unfamiliar topics, figures of speech, or jokes. 

            I found it interesting to make this connection because I know that if someone were to analyze my Spanish, they might make the same recommendations that we have made for Elena.  I could seek out a tutor, take courses in Spanish about subjects that interest me, and read more lower-level reading books to practice and improve my vocabulary.  Now that I know what I could do to improve, I might begin doing more of these things, and also, I might be able to notice some of these same problems in my students, and be able to make some of the same recommendations.  It is always helpful to know your students and to really reflect on what they could most greatly benefit from in their pursuit of the English language.  After doing this project, I will now be much more aware of the many complexities that go into learning a second language, and will be better equipped to help my students on their linguistic journeys. 

Reflection:  Patti Smith

            Analyzing Elena’s English language acquisition proved to be extremely interesting as it opened my eyes up to many of the aspects of language acquisition.  I was really able to look at the language acquisition theories more closely and apply them to the way Elena has developed her English.  One thing is for sure, language acquisition is a life long process that continues to develop throughout one’s entire life. 

            I met Elena 4 years ago when we started working in the same school together.  My husband and I would meet Elena and Dimitris (her husband) for dinner and would go out dancing every so often.  When we first met, Dimitris had already spent 6 years in the United States as he attended the University of Maryland.  His English was near native like as was his accent but Elena’s accent was almost difficult to understand without listening closely.  She never laughed at jokes and Dimitris spent a lot of time explaining things to her.  As time went on and we got to know them better, Elena, our friend Sejal and I became very close and very comfortable with each other.  Now Elena makes us laugh hysterically although she never seems to know that she has said something funny which makes the situation even funnier and can laugh at jokes that we tell.  She does still ask us what some figures of speech mean, or if we are talking cooking she’s not always familiar with things in recipes but I think that is more cultural than anything.

            What I find extremely intriguing is that Dimitris has no accent and Elena has a very thick accent.  I truly believe in the theory that states you develop the language better if your heart is with the people and culture and although Elena enjoys living here, she has a strong sense of love for her country and her culture, which is wonderful.  On the other hand, Dimitris has no desire to live in Greece anymore and loves all things American.  It shows in his speech and the fact that he reads English Novels, newspapers and other high-leveled text on a daily basis and for enjoyment. 

            If Elena wanted to become more efficient in reading and writing English I think she would benefit in taking more classes that might be interactive rather than lecture based and provide her with more social interaction.   The best type of input is when English that is understood, natural, interesting, useful for meaningful communication, and roughly on step beyond the learner’s present level of proficiency is most beneficial (Krashen, 1985).  Although Elena is at an advanced stage of L2 acquisition it seems that she has fossilized at that level, either from lack of exposure or personal motivation.  She may feel that she has enough L2 to succeed in the U.S. and I think she has proved that, but just with some difficulty.   Her English learning was limited to on English class a day from the time she was ten years old and up until she started University at age eighteen.  She did speak with her friends sometimes but they were all learning English as well and probably were all making similar mistakes.  Her mother taught English at the high school level but her father did not speak any English so they did not practice much at home.   Had Elena been in a bilingual educational program, her reading and writing would have been more highly developed. 

            Elena is asking for the complete write-up of her analysis and I’m wondering if she’ll take the recommendations constructively and with an open mind knowing that we are in the process of learning about language acquisition and that we are by no means professional linguistics.  I do look forward to knowing Elena for many years to come and seeing if her language patterns change over the years and if her errors slowly make their way out of her daily speech.  I only hope that I can become as proficient in Spanish as Elena is in English and that I too can take what I’ve learned into consideration when trying to further my development in a second language.




Collier, Virginia.  (1995).  Promoting Academic Success for ESL Students: 

Understanding Second Language Acquisition for School.  Jersey City, NJ:


Mitchel, R. and Myles, F.  (2004)  Second Language Learning Theories (2nd ed.). 

            London, England:  Hodder Headline Group.

Wong Fillmore, L. and Snow, C.E. (2000).  What Teachers Need to Know About

            Language.  This paper was prepared with funding from the U.S. Department

            Of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement.  (ERIC

            Reproduction Service No. ED-99-CO-0008)



Language Analysis

of Elena Valasiadou


Emily Bennett


  • Good BICS (social language)
  • Some unfamiliar vocabulary
  • Good listening skills but hesitates at times when speaking
  • Grammar is sometimes used in the wrong tense
  • Doesn’t understand many American phrases
  • Heavy accent


-         Heavy ties with homeland (Greece)

-         Speaks Greek at home

-         Good oral skills but expressed difficulty reading and comprehending in English

-         Cannot read novels in English b/c it too hard to understand and takes the enjoyment out of reading


SAMPLE:  Does not tell enough because we need to know more about the Academic language.  The written sample was written in a social context so it didn’t show how well she understands content.



(Using Fairfax County’s Oral Language Proficiency Scale)

Communication            5

Fluency                        4

Structure                      6

Vocabulary                   6

Receptive Comp           5