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Authentic Input in Early Second Language Learning

Several foreign language teaching methods facilitate the acquisition of a second language. This research proposes a new pedagogical method for teaching second languages, which is especially practical for younger L2 learners. Lenneberg (1967) has proposed the Critical Period Hypothesis which states that the critical period for foreign language acquisition ends when the acquirer reaches puberty (DeKeyser 2000). Therefore, his work may imply that learning a second language during this “critical period” is useful for foreign language learning. Furthermore, Krashen’s (1982) “Affective Filter Hypothesis” links authentic input as a useful tool in the second language classroom because this type of input can lower the “Affective Filter” of the second language learner. The current study examines if authentic input leads to acquisition of lexical chunks , acquisition of vocabulary and the beginning stages of the acquisition of some aspects of the lexicon, such as root morphemes and plural morphemes, and in some cases, gender morphemes in Spanish for a group of second language learners whose native language is English. Authentic input is incorporated into the language instruction through the use of songs, games, stories that are derived from the target language and culture. This research proposes that language transference is occurring from first language, or L1, to second language, or L2, as the participants may fall under Minimal Trees Hypothesis of Vainikka and Young Scholten (1994; 1996a; 1996b). Since the participants are still developing lexicon and lexical chunks in their L1, this occurrence may aide in the transference from the L1 to the L2. The subjects of the study are seventeen kindergarten, first and second grade students, who have not previously learned a second language. The results from the study confirm that the participants did learn lexical chunks in the target language after being introduced to the L2 via the authentic materials. Additionally, the participants were able to demonstrate acquisition of agreement in number in the L2. The long-term results also confirm the initial set of results.