Exploration into Language Acquisition Theory

John Schumann's

Acculturation Model

There are two factors involved in Schumann's model...

Social distance:

How well does the learner connect with the target language (TL) group?

Psychological distance:

How well does the individual learner internally cope with the learning of a new language?

Greater social or psychological distance 


less connection with TL group


harder to acquire TL

Social Distance Variables

Schumann presents eight social variables that can affect the quality of contact that second language learners have with the target community...

1. Social dominance

If the ELL group is inferior to the TL group, they may resist learning the target language.


Assimilation               Preservation                  Adaptation

3. Enclosure

How shared are the social constructs (churches, schools, professions, etc.) of the ELL and TL group?

4. Cohesiveness

If the ELL group is cohesive, it will tend to remain separate from the TL group

5. Size

If the ELL group is large, there will be less contact with the TL group which leads to lower exposure of the TL

6. Congruence

Social contact is less likely and L2 learning is less easily facilitated if the ELL group's culture is disimilar to the TL group's culture

''My life in high school was torture, just studying, nothing else,'' said Ms. Zheng (pronounced djung). ''Here students lead more interesting lives,'' partly because they are more involved in athletics, choir and other activities.

''They party, they drink, they date,'' she added. ''In China, we study and study and study.''

7. Attitude

If the ELL and TL groups have positive attitudes toward each other, L2 learning is more easily facilitated

8. Intended length of residence

The longer an ELL learner plans to remain in the TL environment, the more likely it is that they will learn the TL

Psychological Distance Variables

There are four psychological distance variables...

1. Language shock

2. Culture shock

4. Ego


Abdullah, S. (2015). Ego is a Hurdle in Second Language Learning: A Contrastive Study between Adults and Children. Advances In Language And Literary Studies, 6(6). http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.6n.6p.170

American Indian boarding schools experience circa 1850-1930 Web Portal for Research Education Famous Historical Photographs, Books, Photographers, Authors, Bibliographies. (2016). Californiaindianeducation.org. Retrieved 21 July 2016, from http://www.californiaindianeducation.org/indian_boarding_schools/

Chizzo, J. (2002). Acculturation and Language Acquisition: A Look at Schumann’s Acculturation Model. Alexandria, VA: Islamic Saudi Academy.

Culhane, S. (2004). An Intercultural Interaction Model: Acculturation Attitudes in Second Language Acquisition. Electronic Journal Of Foreign Language Teaching, 1(1), 50-61.

Meier, N. (2013). bilingual education | Nicholas Meier. Nicholasmeier.com. Retrieved 21 July 2016, from https://nicholasmeier.com/tag/bilingual-education/ 

Rifai, N. (2010). Attitude, motivation, and difficulties involved in learning the English language and factors that affect motivation in learning it. Procedia - Social And Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 5216-5227. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.849

Schumann, J. (1986). Research on the acculturation model for second language acquisition. Journal Of Multilingual And Multicultural Development, 7(5), 379-392. 

Ushioda, U. (1993). Acculturation theory and linguistic fossilization: A comparative case study. Dublin, Ireland: Trinity College. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED368172.pdf

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Acculturation Model

by sesavoie


Public - 7/21/16, 10:04 PM