second language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A second language (L2) (for English second language acquisition also "SLA") is a language that a person can speak in addition to the mother tongue (L1) (for English first language acquisition ). Second language must be separated from the term foreign language (also L2). One speaks of a second language when the L2 is vital for daily use because it is e.g. B. is the language of the country in which the speaker lives, or because one parent speaks only that language. If this is not the case, L2 is called a foreign language.

The need to acquire a second language is particularly evident among children and young people with a migration background , as in the family of origin often only the mother tongue is spoken , the national language of the host country, on the other hand, not or only rudimentary . In some cultures, such as the United States , it is the rule that migrant children, conversely, learn the national language better than their mother tongue.

Even in bilingual regions such as South Tyrol , learning a second language is an integral part of school lessons.

In Germany, the Immigration Act, which came into force on January 1, 2005, aims to improve the integration of migrants. In addition to other content, integration courses should also impart knowledge of the German language in the sense of a second language.

Definition of a prototypical second language according to sociolinguistic criteria

The prototypical second language is characterized by the fact that, in contrast to the first language, it was learned later, both passively uncontrolled and actively partially controlled. Reading and listening comprehension are fully developed, writing skills are fully developed, but may have fewer stylistic registers. Speaking skills show fewer stylistic registers in relation to that of first-language learners. The receptive competence is judged by the second language learning itself as a high productive skills, however, as deficient. The second language is rarely used for communication, depending on the communication situation. It is expanded, standardized and less limited in terms of communicative range than the first language. Your prestige depends on the situation. As a rule, the speakers do not identify with the second language, which for them represents functionality and distance.


  • Andrea Ender: Vocabulary acquisition and use of strategies for multilingual learners - activation of knowledge and successful linking when reading to understanding in a foreign language (diss.). Schneider-Verlag, Baltmannsweiler 2007, ISBN 3-8340-0193-7 .
  • Gabriele Kniffka: German as a second language - teaching and learning . Schöningh UTB, Paderborn 2007, ISBN 978-3-8252-2891-0
  • Susanne Rieckborn: First and second language acquisition in comparison - a study on the acquisition of tense and aspect in German and French (diss.). Kovac-Verlag, Hamburg 2007, ISBN 3-8300-2905-5 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Second language  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations