Schumann’s Acculturation Model


A.  What is acculturation?

“By acculturation I mean the social and psychological integration of the learner with the target language group” (Schumann, 1978, p. 29). It consists of the following social and affective factors.

                                                                Social dominance patterns

                                Social                     Integration patterns (assimilation, preservation, adaptation)

                Factors                   Enclosure, Cohesiveness, Size,

Congruence, Attitude, Intended length of residence


                                                                Language Shock

                                Affective               Cultural Shock

                                Factors                   Motivation



B.  Relationship between acculturation and SLA

“I also propose that any learner can be placed on a continuum that ranges from social and psychological distance to social and psychological proximity with speakers of the TL, and that the learner will acquire the second language only to the degree that he acculturates” (Schumann, 1978, p. 29).


SLA is just one aspect of acculturation and the degree to which a learner acculturates to the TL group will control the degree to which he acquires the second language” (Schumann, 1978, p. 34).




                                Acculturation       3





                                                                                 1   2   3   4   5        


C. Research Evidence

1.  The Heidelberg Research Project (1976).

      The study of acquisition of German by 48 immigrant works showed that their syntactic development is closely correlated with social and affective factors, as shown below:

a.  leisure contact with Germans      (.64)

b.  age upon entering Germany          (-.57)

c.  contact with Germans at work (.53)

d.  length of education                        (.33)

e.  sex                                                     (.12)

f.  mother tongue                                  (.13)

2.  The Alberto Data

            The study of six immigrants in the USA showed that the one who acquired the least amount of English was the one who was the most socially and psychologically distant from the TL group. This learner was a 33-year-old Costa Rican named Alberto. Several tests given to Alberta and others led Schumann to conclude that Alberto’s lack of development is related to the social and psychological distance, not age and intelligence.


D.  The Pidginization Hypothesis

1. What is a pidgin, a Creole, pidginization, or decreolization?

2. SLA = pidginization à creolization à decreolization (baselangà Mesolang à acrolang)

3. The level of acculturation will determine the level of decreolization.


E.  Limitations: e.g., explain naturalistic SLA only; overemphasis on sociolinguistic factors