Factors That Affect Second Language Acquisition

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I strongly believed that languages were learned mainly through imitation. Unfortunately, after discussing this proposition with my classmates and teacher, we concluded that this statement was false. In my experience as a helper of teachers in ESL classes, I saw that, the Audio-lingual Method gave very positive results. On one hand, this method was designed to develop the ability of oral fluency in a second language in 9 months, which was also supported by a number of American linguists (Ellis R. 1990, p. 20). On the other hand, research has shown that, eventually, learners were not only bored by the repetitious drills that occupied so much of their time, but also they were not learning any more than they ever had (Chomsky, 1959. in Allwright, D., & Bailey, K. M.. 2006, p. 6). Repetition might not help in the second language learning, but can surely help to develop the ability of oral communication.

Another factor that my classmates and I thought is the most important factor in second language acquisition is motivation. It is logic to say that learners, who are motivated, will learn more and faster than those who are not. In fact, Gardner states that “Motivation involves four aspects, a goal, effortful behaviour, a desire to attain the goal and favourable attitudes toward the activity in question” (1985, p. 50, in Gass S. and Selinker L., p. 350). However Brehm and Self argue that effort is considered to be a result of motivation, not a component (in Gass. S and Selinker L., p. 351). I think that the important point is that motivation is a huge factor of Second Language Acquisition (maybe not the most important), and can affect in different ways in each learner.

M. Glass, S., & Selinker, L. (2001). Second language Aquisition(An introductory course. (2nd ed.). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum associates Inc.

Allwright, D., & Bailey, K. M.. (2006). Focus on the Language Classroom. (tenth ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ellis, R....
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