Essay Example. Second Language and Identity

Published: 2023-02-10
Essay Example. Second Language and Identity
Type of paper:  Argumentative essay
Categories:  Culture Languages Language development
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 895 words
8 min read

Language is a critical element that helps in identifying an individual's culture, attributes, and personality. Despite the contemporary society actively advocating for the studies of a second language, such advocacy often results in diverse impacts such as losing the original identity. Identity encompasses the attempt for people to establish an understanding of their relationship built through time and space in relation to the possibilities of the future. Through the configuration of the contemporary environment, language plays a great role of defining the personalities, behaviors, and beliefs of an individual as identity actively relates to the willingness to affiliate and recognize one's desire for safety and security (Murray & Christison, 2019). According to Norton (2008), language is an instrumental motivation that depicts an individual's need to attain a specific identity to conform within a specific society. As many people engage in the second language, they often acquire attributed that makes them to either alienate their original customs and cultural practices or totally feel uncomfortable (Norton & De Costa, 2018). Despite pro-bilinguals acknowledging the effect of second language in changing identity, many monolingual authors have contested the notion precluding that second language, on the contrary, helps an individual to appreciate actively and get rooted in its culture and identity more than ever before. Therefore, irrespective of the divergent perception, it is agreeable and acknowledgeable that learning a second language changes an individual's identity such as self-esteem, self-worthiness, and cultural practices.

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Learning a new language encompasses acquiring diverse unique traits which consequently changes an individual's perception, worldview, and attitude (Oxford, 2016). While conforming only to only language significantly narrows one's worldview, bilingual gives people a wider understanding of different global phenomena which is critical for the advancement of contemporary society. Moreover, as it makes one informed of divergent phenomena and more sensitive to the surrounding environment (Oxford, 2016). Unlike being conformed to only one language, learning another language substantially propel and individual to eliminate the barbaric concepts that are often discriminative and marginalizing as he or she attain a wider perception of another culture. For instance, learning English as a second language significantly enable Chinese citizens to appreciate and relate appropriately with other individuals in the international platform rather than discriminating others for not sharing in the Chinese belief system. Nevertheless, many pro-cultural personalities aggressively argue that learning another language such as English only propel cognitive development of an individual such as boosting brainpower, enhancing decision-making skills and improving memory but do not affect the identity acquired by an individual (Murray & Christison, 2019). However, since identity like language is subject to social environment which dictates a person's state of mind, socially acquired traits like language positively propel people to attain new identity as they learn new notions that either previously deterred them from elevating to greater jurisdictions.

Additionally, embracing new language in a host country significantly makes people to grow distant to their original country and identity as they adapt to new language, new persona and new concepts. The adamant disconnection with the initial language makes an individual to positively relate to a new environment and a new cultural custom which helps in exploring other universal dependents (Oxford, 2016). Consequently, unlike feeling of being caged, learning the second language often promotes the feeling of liberation as the literary phenomenon substantiates the desire to connect the barbaric conceptualization to the international platform (Murray & Christison, 2019). Despite the argument that individuals' identity is deeply rooted in their predestined customs. The change in language and environment subsequently determined the current attributes and identity that an individual acquires (Saville-Troike & Barto, 2016). From learning a new culture to adapting to new environment, learning second language actively enables one to attain insight and explore different parts of other culture, which often make people alienate their original customs and identity as the new language might propel positive connection to new custom and environment. Learning a second language especially a foreign language like English helps in boosting relations and transcending above social and cultural constrictions.

Conclusively, learning English has not only propelled my cognitive development but also positively changed my identity. Rather than adopting a narrow and marginalized worldview, learning English has enabled me to confidently and progressively widen my social notion and changed my attitude towards diverse global phenomena. Despite pro-bilinguals acknowledging the effect of the second language in changing identity, many monolingual authors have contested the notion precluding that second language, on the contrary, helps an individual to actively appreciate and get rooted in its culture and identity than ever before. English being a language spoken in different international platforms ranging from education, business, religion to politics, it promotes acquisition of a large pool of positive knowledge relevant to the progression of the contemporary society. Therefore, it is a critical element for social advancement that learning a new language like English promotes acquisition of mutual socio-cultural attitude, identity, and perception. As one relates with foreigners in a foreign language, they actively tend to forget their original identity, and they constantly feel liberated engaging in a second language.


Murray, D. E., & Christison, M. (2019). What English language teachers need to know Volume I: Understanding learning. Routledge.

Norton, B., & De Costa, P. I. (2018). Research tasks on identity in language learning and teaching. Language Teaching, 51(1), 90-112.

Oxford, R. L. (2016). Teaching and researching language learning strategies: Self-regulation in context. Routledge.

Saville-Troike, M., & Barto, K. (2016). Introducing second language acquisition. Cambridge University Press.

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