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Striking the Right Balance Between L1 and L2
Does Immersion Cause Anxiety?, Asks Mary Ellen Radloff

Mary Ellen Radloff teaches French and Spanish at Hattiesburg High School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She contributed the following remarks to the SLART-L listserv recently, and agreed to have them reprinted for the readers of the ESL MiniConference Online.

Hello. My name is Mary Ellen Radloff and I am a student at the University of Southern Mississippi. I took the Second Language Acquisition course during the first session this summer as part of my MATL. As part of the class, we had to join the SLART-L listserv and monitor the discussions. I have found them very interesting and thought provoking. I would like to pose a question that I have as a result of my class and my study of the literature on input and on second language anxiety.

If we know that input is critical to L2 acquisition, and we know that talking about the language does not help the student acquire the language, then why do we not use just the target language in the classroom? I teach high school, 10 - 12 grades, French I, II and III and Spanish II and III. I've debated every year about how much L2 to use in my class. Research on acquisition would suggest that we conduct the class in L2. However, the literature on second language anxiety shows that anxiety plays an important role and can impede acquisition.

Planning for the beginning of school, only a month away, how much L2 should be spoken, what's a fair compromise? I want the students to get enough input, but I don't want to overwhelm them so that they tune out.

I appreciate your sharing your thoughts and or experiences.

Reported by Mary Ellen Radloff
Hattiesburg High School
Hattiesburg, Mississippi

2002 ESL MiniConference Online