Teaching M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Cavalier, Meghan


Teaching English to multilingual adolescent learners has its challenges. Pedagogy for English language learners is based on outdated language learning research. Curriculum available for the English language teacher (ELT) has relied on research related to monolinguals acquiring first language (L1). For the practitioner, these resources were not proving themselves to be effective in the classroom. The practitioner came to the literature review with these questions: What does the current brain research tell us about the language learning process for adolescents 10-24 years of age? What influence does L1 literacy skills have on the second language (L2) learning experience? What are the best practices for teaching English language to adolescent learners? This thesis pursues the research question: Based on current brain research and language development theories, what research-based pedagogy could be designed for teaching linguistic awareness skills of phonology and morphology to adolescent English language learners? Most recent brain research reveals how neuroplasticity in the brain makes learning language possible across the lifespan. The Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) is no longer the end of the discussion when considering if older students can successfully learn a new language. The teaching and learning methods must be different though in order to stimulate the brain’s plasticity. Specifically, the practitioner reviewed how phonology and morphology contribute to the language learning experience and the framework for effective pedagogy for these literacy skills. Recent research related to the language theory of crosslinguistic transfer shows that adolescent learners do transfer L1 literacy skills to the L2 learning experience many years after acquiring L1. As a result of the literature review, the practitioner adopted the best practice of using metacognition to guide the learning experience for phonology and morphology in the classroom. Metacognition facilitates the brain’s plasticity and helps the adolescent language learner grow in the literacy skills of phonology and morphology.

Degree Name

Teaching M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis