Second language learners are individuals who are learning a new language after they have already learned one or more languages. Pineman’s Processibility theory (PPT) holds that a second language learner’s proficiency in a language is determined by their ability to process its individual units (phonemes, morphemes, and lexemes) (Dalamu, 2018). The learner must be able to process the smallest unit of sound (phoneme), the smallest unit of meaning (morpheme), and the smallest unit of word form (lexeme) to be considered proficient in a language. PPT is also divided into five developmental stages: pre-production, early production, speech emergence, intermediate fluency, and advanced fluency. The five PPT language learning developmental stages are essential in learning a second language successfully.
The pre-production stage is the earliest stage of language learning, and it is when learners begin to develop an understanding of the new language. During this stage, learners focus on developing basic vocabulary and grammar skills, and they start to learn how to use the new language for communication (Onibon, 2017). In order to determine a learner’s language proficiency during this stage, PPT focuses on their ability to use grammar rules and vocabulary in context. This theory similarly considers a learner’s fluency level, pronunciation, and error patterns. By using all of these factors, PPT can provide educators with a better understanding of a learner’s current level of language proficiency.
Similarly, during this stage, the learner responds nonverbally by drawing, nodding, gesturing, or pointing. Students give such responses because they do not have adequate oral skills; some of them engage in active listening while others may copy from the board (Alam, 2020). They are also trying to figure out the meaning of words and sentences by putting them together. This is an important step because it helps the learner understand how the language works. It is also a time for them to practice making sounds and forming words. For some languages, learners also need to learn different verb tenses. Learning these tenses can be difficult for some students, but with enough practice, they will be able to use verbs correctly in conversation (Onibon, 2017). Learners at this stage struggle with the language, but by using real and visible items, teachers may give students plenty of opportunities for active listening.
The early production stage of PPT refers to the time period when a second language learner begins to produce utterances in the new language. This stage is marked by great variability in terms of both form and meaning, as learners are still in the process of acquiring the grammar and vocabulary needed for full communication (Husna, 2021). During this stage, learners will use whatever they know about the new language to generate sentences, which often result in errors. However, through exposure to comprehensible input, such as language that is appropriate for their level of comprehension, learners will gradually begin to make more accurate and fluent productions. Moreover, during this stage, it is recommended for teachers to ask simple questions, such as no/yes questions or those requiring few words responses, and use pictures to build vocabulary (Onibon, 2017). Similarly, the teachers can simplify the texts while focusing on concepts and vocabulary, as well as supporting questions using pictures and charts.
In PPT, the speech emergence stage is when a learner begins to produce meaningful utterances in the second language. This usually happens when a learner has achieved a certain level of proficiency in the second language and has acquired enough linguistic knowledge to be able to use it properly (Husna, 2021). During this stage, learners will gradually increase their production of utterances, making more mistakes as they practice. However, they will also make progress in terms of their ability to use the new language correctly. Therefore, while there will be plenty of errors during this stage, learners will likewise start showing signs of proper grammar and usage. Furthermore, the students can comprehend simple stories accompanied by images and as well match definitions with their vocabulary (Alam, 2020). Learners writing about themselves or illustrating short stories generally become easier.
Second language learners in the speech emergence stage should be encouraged to communicate as much as possible in the new language. This can be done through interactions with classmates and teachers, as well as through various activities and exercises (Alam, 2020). It is equally vital to provide positive reinforcement whenever a learner attempts to use the new language. This aids in building confidence and encourages further communication. In some cases, it may also be helpful for learners to receive corrective feedback to improve their pronunciation and grammar. However, this should always be done in a gentle and supportive manner. Likewise, teachers may create relevant situations for students to communicate and express themselves in writing or speaking for various audiences and objectives.
The intermediate fluency stage is the fourth stage and is the point at which the learner has acquired a large enough vocabulary and grammar to be able to communicate in a wide range of situations. They can similarly apprehend most of the ideas spoken to them, although they may still have some trouble with idiomatic expressions or complex sentence structures (Husna, 2021). At this stage, learners generally understand the culture associated with the language they are learning and can use it for practical purposes such as traveling, shopping, or socializing. They may also begin to take an interest in reading and writing in their new language.
Furthermore, learners continue to develop their fluency and accuracy as they use the target language for communication. Additionally, they can understand a wider range of topics, although there may still be some difficult topics for them to comprehend (Alam, 2020). In addition, learners at this stage typically have a good command of grammar and vocabulary and can use these skills to produce accurate and fluent sentences. Teachers can support the students learning by creating chances for the learners to write or present oral narratives.
In the advanced fluency stage, learners are able to use the language for communication with native speakers. They can produce language effortlessly and can communicate on a wide range of topics (Husna, 2021). In order to achieve fluency, learners must first achieve mastery of the language. This involves understanding all of the grammar rules and being able to use them correctly. They must also be familiar with all of the vocabulary words and be able to use them correctly in sentences. Once they have mastered the language, they can begin developing their fluency (Onibon, 2017). To improve their fluency, learners need to practice using the language in real-world situations. They need to talk with native speakers as often as possible and listen to recordings of native speakers talking. Utilizing activities that blend language arts and subject-specific material, teachers may offer continual linguistic skills.
In conclusion, PPT provides a useful framework for understanding the language proficiency of second language learners. The five stages outlined by the theory allow educators and students to track the learners’ progress and identify any areas in which they may need additional support. Additionally, Pineman’s theory emphasizes the importance of real-world interactions in enabling second language learners to reach their full potential. Using objects, and visuals, asking yes/no questions, and allowing oral and written activities are ways teachers can help students with their second language learning.
Alam, G. (2020). Impact of English as a second language in India. Language in India, 20(7), 51-58.
Dalamu, T. (2018). English language development in Nigerian society: A derivative of advertising communications. Complutense Journal of English Studies, 26(2018), 263-286.
Husna, H. A. U. (2021). The relationship between the students English speaking skills and their closeness to English. Language Circle: Journal of Language and Literature, 15(2), 229-240. Web.
Onibon, N. O. (2017). Novice learners of Arabic in the Lagos state university and stages of the second language acquisition (SLA): A preliminary study. American Academic Scientific Research Journal for Engineering, Technology, and Sciences, 30(1), 37-46.