The Acculturation Model

Schumann’s model is a valiant attempt at describing the process that individuals go through in acquiring a second language. Specifically, it focuses on members of ethnic minorities, being described by Schumann as including immigrants, migrant workers, and their children. His study revolved around how these individuals learn their target language by being immersed in the natural setting of the majority language, with little access to their own native language (Ellis, 1994). This analytical essay aims to provide a thorough and critical analysis of the Acculturation Model, followed by an evaluation of how this theory specifically can best be incorporated into the second language classroom of today. Description and Discussion of Main Claims Schumann’s theory originally began as a study of six students who were non-English learners. One of those students was making little to no progress in terms of actually acquiring the English language. Since his language skills were sorely lacking, Schumann ascertained that the student’s cognitive development was stunted as a result. … With rapidly advancing globalization, research in the area of second language acquisition has expanded in recent years. The Acculturation Model continues to be of particular interest because of its approach to assimilation and direct contact with the target language. At its most basic level, acculturation is primarily defined as a combination of social and psychological factors that are commonly understood to be critical to the acquisition of a second language in a natural environment (Berry, 1997, p. 8). According to Barjesteh (2012), The major claim of the model is that acculturation, which is a cluster of social-psychological factors, is the major cause of Second Language Acquisition (p. 580). In making this claim, the Acculturation Model takes the position that any second language learner can be placed on a continuum in a natural setting with speakers of the target language. The speed and fluency with which a learner acquires the language, then, can be seen as a direct correlation to the proximity that learner has with native speakers in a social or psychological context (Larson-Freeman, 2007, p. 781). A further claim of this particular model is that the process of acculturation is not directly linked to second language acquisition, but should rather be looked at as the first of several factors that contribute to the successful learning of a second language. Again, acculturation in this context is viewed as the integration of the L2 learner into the target linguistic community (Barjesteh, 2012, p. 580). Acculturation, then, should as be viewed as a cause of L2 acquisition, one that brings a student into contact with native speakers of the