Best way to learn a second language videoDeveloped by Mark Halley

Competencies Addressed:  Message Coherence

Time Required for Activity: 30 mins

Objective:  To improve message coherence when interpreting a fast and challenging English text into American Sign Language.

In this video, Dr. Sapna Parikh discusses the process of language acquisition, focusing on second language acquisition for children and adults.

The activity in this post is based on:

Winston, E.A. & Monikowski, C.M. “Discourse Mapping: Developing Textual Coherence Skills in Interpreters” in Roy, C.B., ed. (2000). Innovative practices for teaching sign language interpretersWashington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.


You will watch a video in which Dr. Sapna Parikh, a multimedia journalist, explains how children and adults acquire a second language. Considering what you already know about second language acquisition, predict some topics she might discuss, as well as some terms she might use.

Watch the Video

Watch the video in its entirety. Notice that Dr. Parikh speaks rather quickly about a variety of complex topics. To improve your comprehension of how ideas in English are connected together, create a discourse map of Dr. Parikh’s explanation.

Watch source video. (The video will display in a pop-up window.)

If you want an example of a discourse map, you can check out this blank map. (The video will display in a pop-up window.)

Check Your Work

Take your own discourse map and compare it with this sample discourse map. Note: the sample discourse map does not include all of the details from the video. Hopefully, it will give you a sense of one possible way of making visual the relationships between the ideas in the text.

In terms of the sample, the blue oval with “Best Age to Learn Second Language” represents the main point of the video. The green shapes at the next level describe the main structure of the text, and then the yellow rectangles share the main units.

If your map captured the majority of the same points and relationships, but looks different, do not worry about the appearance. The point is to pay attention to the relative importance of information and how the ideas are connected together.

After checking your discourse map against the sample, see if you can fill in more information on your own map.

You can watch the video again or review the transcript.