Acculturation Model (John Schumann)
Explanation of Main Features

  • Acculturation is adapting to a new culture. Schumann developed this acculturation model to demonstrate the factors that influence a person's L1 and L2. He notes that these sociocultural factors are complicated by society at large. The two main factors he focuses on in the acculturation model are social and affective factors. Schumann states that "the degree to which a learner acculturates to the target language group will control the degree to which he acquires the second language" (Diaz-Rico and Weed, 2010).
  • Schumann then goes on to add specific social factors that affect second language acquisition. All the following factors contribute to social distance between the minority group and the mainstream group. He takes a look at the dominance patterns within a culture and how those may inhibit second language acquisition. Enclosure is another factor, that to which someone shares the same church, schools, etc. of the target language. If someone shares these same social settings, enclosure is said to be low and language learning can be enhanced. Attitude, cohesiveness, size, similarities, and intended length of stay are all social factors that need to be considered during acculturation. Schumann focuses on psychological factors within the individual as well. He talks about motivation as a factor, going through language shock, and going through culture shock. These psychological factors raise the affective filters of our ELL students and can prevent comprehensible input in our students to reaching language acquisition.

Classroom Implications

In the classroom teachers must be aware that most of our ELL students “learn a second culture as well as a second language” (Diaz-Rico & Weed, 2010, p.19). If we are to help them successfully acculturate we must respect and acknowledge the culture that they bring into the classroom. We must also encourage them to find ways to add on to their culture parts of the American culture while not losing their personal identity and home culture. Teachers can acknowledge students' home cultures through conversation, allowing the student to teach others about their culture, providing materials in that student's home language, or teaching whole group lessons about their homelands.

Díaz-Rico, L. T. & Weed, K. Z. (2010). The Cross-Cultural, Language, and Academic Development Handbook, Fourth Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson
Freeman, David E., & Freeman, Yvonne S. (2004). Essential Linguistics: What You Need to Know to Teach. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Schumann, John H. Research on the Acculturation Model for Second Language Acquisition. Retrieved May 9, 2011 from