CoverAcknowledgements1. Language and Identity1.1. What Is a Speech Community?1.2. Coercive vs. Collaborative Relations1.3. Language Minority Stories2. Who Are English Learners?2.1. Reflection Model2.2. Inclusive Pedagogy2.2. Makoto Critical Incident2.3. Assumptions to Rethink about English Learners2.4. Critical Learning Domains3. Understanding Theory3.1. Communication, Pattern, and Variability 3.2. Five Curriculum Guidelines3.3. Indicators of Instructional Conversation (IC)3.4. Indicators of the Standards for Effective Pedagogy3.5. Standards for Effective Pedagogy3.6. Examining Current Realities4. Input4.1. Input and Native Language Acquisition4.2. Input and Second Language Acquisition4.3. The Interdependence Hypothesis4.4. The Threshold Hypothesis4.5. Vocabulary Development and Language Transfer4.6. Text Modification5. Interaction5.1. Code Switching and Interaction5.2. Characteristics of Modifications for Interaction5.3. How Can Teachers Help Second Language Learners Begin to Communicate?5.4. Classroom Routines and Participation Structures5.5. We Can Talk: Cooperative Learning in the Elementary ESL Classroom6. Stages of Development6.1. Proficiency Levels Defined7. Errors and Feedback7.1. Points to Remember About Errors7.2. Effective and Appropriate Feedback for English Learners8. Types of Proficiencies8.1. Fostering Second Language Development in Young Children8.2. Instructional Conversation in Native American Classroom 8.3. Student Motivation to Learn8.4. Language Learning Strategies: An Update8.5. Three Misconceptions about Age and L2 Learning9. Types of Performances9.1. Understanding BICS and CALP9.2. The Order of Acquisition and The Order of Use9.3. Schumann's Acculturation Model9.4. Implications From the Threshold and Interdependence Hypotheses9.5. Lily Wong Fillmore’s Cognitive and Social Strategies for Second Language Learners10. Classroom Practices and Language AcquisitionIndex

Lily Wong Fillmore’s Cognitive and Social Strategies for Second Language Learners

Variability Summary E

Cognitive strategies “enable learners to figure out how the new language is structured, to interpret meanings in it, and to begin expressing themselves using it” (Fillmore, 1976, p. 633). Social strategies involve “ways to receive input on which to base the language learning and making efficient use of the social setting in which language is used as an aid in that learning” (p. 633). Fillmore expressed these strategies as maxims to guide second language learners’ cognitive and social participation. We have added recommendations for how teachers can support these activities.

Cognitive Maxims:


“Assume that what people are saying is directly relevant to the situation at hand or to what they or you are experiencing. Metastrategy: guess” (p. 634).

  • Teachers can help learners make sense of what they hear.


“Get some expressions you understand and start talking” (p. 639).

  • Teachers can encourage learners to produce language.


“Look for recurring parts in the formulas you know” (p. 644).

  • Teachers can help learners notice the structure of language.


“Make the most of what you’ve got” (p. 649).

  • Teachers can help learners feel good about their efforts to communicate and encourage continued language production.


“Work on the big things; save the details for later” (p. 655).

  • Teachers can help learners focus first on the language structures that are most important for understanding and defer feedback on particular details until it is developmentally appropriate.

Social Maxims:


“Join a group and act as if you understand what’s going on, even if you don’t” (p. 667).

  • Teachers can help learners structure social settings and understand the importance of listening.


“Give the impression—with a few well-chosen words—that you can speak the language” (p. 669).

  • Teachers can help learners and native-speakers understand the importance of production in language acquisition. 


“Count on your friends for help” (p. 688).

  • Teachers can help learners seek feedback and encourage peers and native-speakers to be helpful.


Fillmore, L. W. (1976). The second time around: Cognitive and social strategies in second language acquisition. (Doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, 1976). Dissertation Abstracts International, 37(10), 6443A.

Adapted with permission from:                                                                                             

Teemant, A. & Pinnegar, S. (2007). Understanding Langauge Acquisition Instructional Guide. Brigham Young University-Public School Partnership. 

Suggested Citation

& (2019). Lily Wong Fillmore’s Cognitive and Social Strategies for Second Language Learners: Variability Summary E. In , Principles of Language Acquisition. EdTech Books. Retrieved from

Copyrighted: This work is copyrighted by the original author or publisher with all rights reserved. You are permitted to access the work here, but for additional permissions, please contact the original author or publisher.

End-of-Chapter Survey

: How would you rate the overall quality of this chapter?
  1. Very Low Quality
  2. Low Quality
  3. Moderate Quality
  4. High Quality
  5. Very High Quality
Comments will be automatically submitted when you navigate away from the page.
Like this? Endorse it!