Wheaton College Color Logo

Second Language Acquisition (SLA) For Beginning Learners

Japanese writing

Beginning Learners Course Overview

Course Goals

Second Language Acquisition (SLA) for Beginning Learners will help you to more quickly reach your short-term goal of handling daily tasks in your new language (e.g., conversing with your neighbors), and it will also help you to be a more successful cross-cultural communicator who is able to make significant long-term contributions within your new community (e.g., talking with others about life's most important issues).

Audience

Our pre-field (SLA) course for beginning learners is for people who are just beginning the learn a new language(s), especially for those who plan to live, work, and communicate heart-to-heart for an extended period of time. Especially as a beginner, learning languages more efficiently and effectively starts with you! We will show you how to make the most of your learning situation, whether you will be going to a language school, working with a tutor, or designing your own learning program from scratch. We will equip you with skills to set goals and manage your own learning. 

Flexible format

Our SLA courses are fully online and flexible to your schedule. This allows you to take it anywhere in the world and manage your own schedule. The course consists of 15 sessions, which you complete at your own pace. In the past, many learners have completed it in six weeks (approximately 3-4 hours a day every weekday) or at a more relaxed pace over 12 weeks. But we can accommodate and individualize the course so that it works for your specific needs.

Although most students take the course for non-credit, you can also enroll for four hours of credit (summers only).

Register for a Second Language Acquisition Course

Course Components

Our LLT sessions will:

  • equip you with a variety of techniques and procedures to use in your on-field learning
  • give you an opportunity to focus on your target language

You will discover a great deal about your personal learning strengths and challenges, including particular strategies that work best for you, and you will gain confidence in your ability to tackle a new language as you work with a native speaker of another language. (For most of our SLA students, their language helper is a native speaker of their target language.)

These sessions provide an overall framework for the course. They deal with the "what" and the "how" of language learning. Some of the questions the Foundations Sessions address include:

  • What does it mean to know a language?
  • In order to know a language, exactly what do you need to learn, and what skills must be developed?
  • How should you go about the learning process?
  • How can you capitalize on your innate learning strengths?
  • How can you make the most of a language school or a structured tutoring situation?
  • How can you learn from ordinary native speakers?
  • How can you learn from your successes, and how can you make your mistakes work for you?

In this component, we help you to pronounce your target language more accurately. Through one-on-one coaching, we always focus on the target host language of the learner, and always customize the learning to fit what the learner needs, does not need, what they already know, and what they don’t know.

The goals are to help learners:

  • Set realistic goals
  • Develop skills in pronunciation of target host language
  • Self-awareness of features of their own speech so they know what needs to be changed
  • Strengths and weaknesses in pronunciation and how to adapt
  • Self-management skills that help learners know how to assess their own learning and how to move forward in the process
Microcontent Chinese writing green sign

"You provide the most thorough phonetics instruction, the most time working with a language helper, the most information about our target language, and you even provide on-field follow-up help and consultation."
-former SLA participant