Learning a language

Published: 2019-06-04 15:35:32
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Learning a language can come with many challenges and difficulties, especially where one is learning a language as their second language. This has been the trend in many societies as non-English speaking peoples struggle with the learning of a new language. However, it is important to note that the English language is made of many parts of the language for example grammar, syntax, pronunciation and many more phenomena found in the languages. As a result, it may be quite challenging to learn all the aspects of language foreign to one all at the first instance. This part of the paper is the theoretical analysis explaining why there are challenges in acquiring language skills. We look at different theories of learning and their application in the use of the English language as a second language to learners.

Linguistics has the area of language acquisition as well as development, which is the area of concern for this particular paper. Research has widely been done on the acquisition of a second language and its challenges as well as the phenomenon of becoming a bilingual speaker. The first main theory of examination, in this case, will be Krashens theory, which expounds on the principles of second language acquisition skills. His work has been widely accepted in the linguistics world and is a leading resource in this area.

Krashens theory

This theory is based on five main hypothesis upon which we are going to base the first of our arguments concerning the occurrence of grammatical errors in the expression of persons which is less likely to become the case in the written form. The first of these hypotheses is the acquisition stage. According to Krashen, this is the most important phase of the language learning process, where the speaker first encounters the language. This process is quite similar to the one that children undergo during the assumption of their first language, where the person has to open up their mind to acquire the basic expressions of the language in question. This stage requires a natural communication with the language and speakers of the language. The focus of this stage is to ensure that communication is achieved rather than focus on the subject of the communication (Brown, 1987). Under this hypothesis, there is also the learned system, where the student has a formal instructor for the purposes of learning the language. This process becomes a conscious process of learning where the learner becomes aware of the rules of the language. Krashen sees this process as less important than the acquisition process (Halliday, 1993). Research has gone further to prove this fact and assert that despite the educational side of the language learning process, the acquisition skill becomes paramount in ensuring that learners (children in this case) can derive the formation of the language from simple verbal expressions and observations.

When considering this learning phenomenon with the situation on the ground concerning communication, this could explain some of the issues that people face with expressing themselves in the language of choice, namely the second language. It may be that they are in the acquisition stage of the language and have just acquired enough for the passing of the message rather than the other grammatical requirements that are there with expression in the language. Furthermore, there is a possibility that the transition from this stage is incomplete and thus the person, even after exiting this stage, is unable to express themselves in a better way for lack of the understanding of the boundaries of this stage. The result is that the person ends up wrongfully extending this period and thus hampers their language of communication. Furthermore, there are other individual considerations to make when considering the change of persons from one stage of the learning process to another (Winke, 2007). Some of these differences can be motivational, self-regulation of the student in terms of their learning, their aptitude for learning the language among other factors that play their part in this process. As a result, it is not just a matter of moving from one stage to another. Rather, it is an interplay of factors to move from the one stage to the other.

The second hypothesis that Krashens theory argues on is the monitor hypotheses, where the relationship between the learning and the acquisition is made. In this stage, monitoring happens immediately after the acquisition of the grammar. The monitoring process ensures that what the learner learns is edited into the right grammatical requirements of the language. This way, this stage is like the filter that ensures all the wrong things are kept out of the speech of the learner. However, three factors become a requisite for the proper functioning of this rule: the sufficiency of time on the part of the learner; their focus on the correctness of the statements they are making; and their knowledge of the rules (Gordon, 1986). The role of this hypothesis is to ensure that the kind of speech that the learner is using is polished in nature and is free of common grammatical errors. Furthermore, it is the choice of the learner on their frequency of the use of the monitor in their speech, where some have the disposition to use the monitor in excess while others use the monitor appropriately and others fail to use it at all. Psychological profiles thus help to determine the kind of person that they are and their disposition to use the monitors (Gardner & Lambert, 1972).

When considering the application of this hypothesis, it can be seen clearly in the speech of learners. Depending on the kind of personality that they have, their reaction to the implementation of the monitor will vary so that some will be more susceptible to using proper language while others lack the motivation. Psychological factors and the personality types of learners play a part in the learning process. Furthermore, it boils down to a personal choice to determine ones use of the monitor in the learning of the language. This can be seen in the second factor required, that is the focus of the student on the specifics of the language to know when to apply the monitor. Also, the other factors mentioned above can play a part such as the lack of the knowledge of a specific rule of language. Where the learner is unaware of the rule in the language concerning a particular blunder that they are making in speech, it is likely that that mistake will be repeated both in writing and speech.

The third hypothesis comes in the line of the natural order of learning a language. In this order, it is expected that the grammatical intricacies of a language will follow a predictable order of absorption for the learner. This order is independent of outside factors that characterize the learner such as their age as well as conditions of exposure to the language. This happens purely at the stage that the natural mind of the person is able to absorb. For example, in some learners this comes up quite early while, for others, there will be an experience of delay. Nonetheless, it was noted in the course of research that it was not always the case that the learners were engaged with studies when their natural learning came to them. However, there was much evidence pointing to the existence of a natural order of learning and acquiring languages (Lantoff, 2000). This natural order of learning the language suggests that there may be gaps within the grammatical areas of the second language that came as a result of naturally absorbing the language rather than taking time to learn it. Learners like these often end up knowing how to communicate, rather than how to express themselves in the second language. So far as they are concerned, the natural language that they learned is sufficient for their communication with the speakers and thus becomes a non-issue to them whether or not they are aware of grammatical requirements of the language. On the other hand, it is possible that natural learners tend to dismiss the grammatical requirements of the acquired language altogether as the quicker means to the end of communication. As a result, such communicators will be content with the passing of the message rather than how it is passed the true embodiment of the end justifying the means in the case of linguistics.

There is a fourth hypothesis that Krashen begins to explain the acceptance of the second language. This is the input hypothesis. Again this process is to do with the acquisition process and not learning. When the learner receives a higher level of input in the language that they are progressively obtaining in the natural sense, then they become more competent for the reason of that input and are able to express themselves better in the second. For example, if a learner is level 1 and then some necessary input is applied so that the level of the learner now moves to level 2, then such a learner has acquired the necessary input under the natural process to move to the next level of competency in the language. As such, this is the method in which syllabuses can easily be made (Brook, 1964).

If we consider this method of learning, it is dependent on the natural learning processes that have their challenges especially regarding the person hoping to gain knowledge from the natural methods. Furthermore, this method is also limited by the interaction that the person has with others so that it is impossible to determine when the person is naturally going to acquire a level of language higher than their own. As a result, the learner may have difficulty moving to the next level because of the absence of this interaction and the subsequent loss of opportunity to learn the language more.

On the final hypothesis under this theory, we look at the affective filter factors. These are factors that play a role in the acquisition of a second language. Motivation, self-awareness and confidence, as well as anxiety, play a role in the learning of a second language, lack of which may cause the delay in learning the language. Characteristics such as high motivation, the viewing of oneself in high esteem and low anxiety levels provide the learner with optimum conditions of send language acquisition. The opposite of this may breed disaster during the acquisition process because of impending mental factors. There is the place for positive and negative motivation in the language acquisition process, thus why positive self-image and motivation alone are not sufficient factors in the acquisition process.

When looking at the possible factors that could go wrong with this concept, the higher concentration of negatives as opposed to positives can cause a negative reaction towards learning. As viewed above earlier, it is possible that the self-image of a person cause them to become over-users of the monitor and thus impede the acquisition process. As a result, the speakers of the second language may have such psychological impediments.

An overall look at the theory of second language acquisition reveals that there are many factors behind the difference in the accuracy of the written and the spoken English. Written English is largely governed by rules that have been set down and learned. However, the challenges of acquisition of the oral language present the chief challenge in the proper expression of ones sentiments in the second language. The summary of the theory brings out these challenges clearly.

Methodology and Design

From the research, it was clear that both explicit and implicit feedback that were issued during the process of learning for persons who were out to learn subsequent languages enabled individuals to learn subsequent languages at a very fast rate. Although both explicit and implicit corrective feedbacks have been analyzed in the past, one thing that remains...

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