“Second language acquisition is the process by which people learn a second language” (Rathod, 2012). When it comes to learning a new language, some persons will learn quickly and effortlessly, while others will have great difficulty. Many people have learnt a second language while in school, and knows that in order for them to successfully learn a second language they had to work hard and be determined and persistent in their efforts. But even as everyone gave their best effort in learning a new language the results varied across the student body. This variance is due to the fact that successfully acquiring a second language has numerous factors, both internal and external that influences the level of success for each individual.
The internal/individual factors that may affect a person’s ability to learn a second language may include any one or a combination of the following: Age is one factor that has minimal effect on language acquisition. Older learners (teenagers and adults), who have strong literacy skills tend to learn a second language better than those with inadequate literacy skills, but tend to struggle with pronunciations in the native-like accent. On the other hand younger learners (children) will acquire the native-like accent, especially in a natural setting as opposed to a classroom environment, but have difficulty with grammar (Flege, James E, et al, 1995).
Personality that is being either introverted or extraverted, will slow or progress the learner respectively. Introverts tend to have slower progress than extraverts, mainly in the oral development of the new language because they are less likely to have opportunities to speak in the new language. While people who are outgoing will have much more opportunities to practice and develop their oral skills. Experience and Cognitive Ability refers to persons who have been exposed to different cultures with varying languages have a sturdier platform for learning a second language. Individuals with higher intellectual abilities tend to progress faster when learning a new language, than those with less cognitive abilities.
Native language speaks to when persons learning a second language that is the same language family as their native language will find it easier, than if the language being learnt was outside the family of their native language (Walqui, 2000).. For example, a native English speaker will find it easier to learn Spanish or Dutch than Vietnamese or Arabic. The learner’s level of proficiency in his or her native language will also determine how quickly and easily the second language is learnt (Ryan and Deci 2000).
External factors are exactly that, factors or elements outside of or surrounding the person learning the second language, and may include but are not limited to the following: the Learning process, which takes into consideration that fact that everyone learns differently. The motivational aids, meaning those who receive positive motivation from parents and teachers/instructors generally progress better than those who don’t get any motivation. Additionally, pupils who are self-motivated get engaged in the learning process for their own interest, challenge and value (Dergisi, 2001). And for those learning in formal settings, classroom interaction and curriculum are added factors to consider.
Instruction is a factors that plays a major role because there will obviously be teachers or instructors who are deemed better than others because they create effective learning experiences. Those who are exposed to opportunities that create meaningful language interaction will better able acquire a second language. Learning language is not a transmission of facts but comes from constant interaction and practice with target language. Therefore, those imparting the new language should utilize more interactive methods such as instructional conversation and conversational group work. Another factor is culture and status which speaks to the difficulties face when placed in various learning environments. Individuals in environments where their own culture is seen as less than the culture they are now experiencing, tend to progress slowly in language acquisition. People from the lower social classes generally are less successful in learning a second language than the more elite social classes, mainly due to the lack of world experience or exposures that their socio-economic class allows.
People seeking to learn a second language come from diverse cultures and have various needs and goals. Which makes success in learning a second language dependable on many elements both internal such as age and personality, and external such as culture and motivation. It has been found that adult learners have the advantage of learning the grammar in language acquisition better than children, while children quickly learns the pronunciations in native-like accents. And people who are exposed to positive motivation whether intrinsic or home support or role models are more successful in second language acquisition than individuals who are not motivated. Therefore, the desire and ability of people to acquire a second language are affected by various factors that instructors and teachers must take into consideration when imparting a new language.
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