In the very beginning, I want to thank to all those who visit my blog. Thank you so much. On the other hand, I have to say that I was a little bit lazy during my annual leave, so I did not post anything for a while. In this post, I will emphasize the things which are very rewarding during the process of learning the second language. I used to say some things about it in my previous post, so this is the continuation of it.
The natural order hypothesis
This hypothesis states that we acquire the rules of a language in a predictable sequence.The rules which are the easiest to state are not necessarily the first to be acquired. Krashan asserts that the natural order is independent of the order in which the rules have been taught.Most of the evidence for this hypothesis comes from the morpheme studies, in which children`s speech has been examined for accuracy of certain grammatical morphemes(mostly noun and verbs `endings` such as plural-s and past tense-ed in English).
The input hypothesis
Krashan asserts that we acquire language in only one way by receiving comprehensible input, that is, by understanding messages.If the input contains forms and structures, then both comprehension and acquisition will occur.Krashan admits that comprehensible input is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for acquisition.
The affective-filter hypothesis
The `affective filter` is an imaginary barrier which prevents learners from using input which is available in the environment.`Affect` refers to such things as motives, needs, attitudes and emotional states.Thus, depending on the learner`s state of mind or disposition, the filter limits what is noticed and what is acquired.The filter will be `up` or operating when the learner is stressed, self-conscious or unmotivated.It will be `down` when the learner is relaxed and motivated.What makes this hypothesis attractive is that it appears to have immediate implications for classroom practice.Teacher can understand why some learners may be successful while others are not.The difficulty with the hypothesis is that it is difficult to be sure that the affective factors cause the differences in language acquisition.
Factors affecting second language learning
It was pointed out that all normal children, given a normal upbringing, are successful in the acquisition of their first language.Some learners never achieve native-like command of a second language.The factor which makes it difficult to reach conclusions about relationships between individual learner characteristics and second language learning is how language proficiency is defined and measured.Some studies report that learners with a higher level of motivation are more successful language learners then those with lower motivation.Other studies report that highly motivated learners do not preform any better on a proficiency test then learners with much less motivation to learn the second language.A link between intelligence and second language learning has been reported.Intelligence levels were a good means of predicting how successful a learner would be at language learning. One factor which often affects motivation is the social dynamic or power relationship between the languages.
There is evidence in the research that some individuals have an exceptional `aptitude` for language learning.The most widely used aptitude tests are the Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT). The test measure characteristics such as:
1)the ability to identify and memorize new sounds,
2)the ability to understand how words function grammatically in sentences,
3)the ability to figure out grammatical rules from language samples,
4)memory of new words.
One of the most serious problems is that it is not clear what the abilities are that constitute aptitude.
A number of personality characteristics have been proposed as likely to affect second language learning.It is often argued that an extroverted person is well-suited to language learning.Another aspects of personality which has been studied is inhibition.Inhibition discourages risk-taking which is necessary for progress in language learning.However, in general, the available research does not show a clearly defined relationship between personality and second language acquisition.
This research suggests that different learners approach a task with a different set of skills and preferred strategies.We have all heard people say that they cannot learn something until they have seen it.Such learners would fall into the group called `visual` learners.Other people, who may be called `aural` learners, seem to need only to hear something once or twice before they know it.However, there is clearly some truth to the intuition that certain way of approaching a task are more successful for one person then for another.
Age of acquisition
Age is a characteristic which is easier to define and measure than personality, aptitude or motivation.The relationship between a learner`s age and his or her potential for success in second language acquisition is the subject of much lively debate.It has been widely observed that children from immigrant families eventually speak the language of their new community with native-like fluency.The critical period hypothesis suggests that there is a time in human development when the brain is predisposed for success in language learning.Developmental changes in brain change the nature of second language acquisition.Language learning which occurs after the end of the critical period may not be based on the innate structures believed to contribute to first language acquisition or second language acquisition in early childhood.Older learners depend on more general learning abilities.These general learning abilities are not as successful for language learning as the more specific.It is difficult to compare children and adults as second language learners.
Children are intrinsically better learners.The reason for children`s apparently speedy learning may be the sheer amount of the time they are usually exposed to the language.Adult`s capacity for understanding and logical thought is greater, and they are likely to have developed a number of learning skills and strategies which children do not yet have.Another reason is that most adults are learning voluntarily.Teachers commonly notice that they cannot get children to concentrate on certain learning activities.The problem is not the concentration span itself, but rather the ability of the individual to persevere with something of no immediate intrinsic interest to them.Older learners do exhibit noticeable superiority, because they tend to be more self-disciplined. One implication for teaching is the need to devote a lot of thought to the interest value of learning activities for younger learners.It is easier to motivate children.You can raise children`s motivation and enthusiasm more easily than that of older.On the other hand, you can also lose it more easily: monotonous activities quickly bore and demotivate younger learners.Younger learner`s motivation is more likely to vary.In general, children have a greater immediate need to be motivated by the teacher or the materials in order to learn effectively.Prizes and similar extrinsic words can help, but more effective on the whole are elements that contribute towards intrinsic motivation.Three very important sources of interest for children in the classroom are: pictures, stories and games.The teaching of foreign languages to adults is arguably less important, worldwide, than the teaching of children.Teaching adults is on the whole easier and less stressful.It is, however, often directed towards special purposes(for business, for academic study and so on). Even in an adult class, the teacher`s status as an authority is usually maintained.In return for conceding authority to the teacher in the classroom, adult learners demand ultimate returns in terms of their own benefit in learning outcomes.
Patrowski found that age of acquisition is a very important factor in setting limits on the development of native-like mastery of a second language.Older learners will not have native-like language skills and are more able to differ greatly from one another.The motivation to learn and individual differences in aptitude for language learning are also important determining factors in both rate of learning and eventual success in learning.
I hope that some of you will find something constructive in this post.