Learner’s Language Learning Experience
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The English language has become one of the most widespread languages in the entire world, used in almost every country in communicating. I started taking lessons on the English language as at the age of 12, primarily pushed by its importance in the international arena. This would essentially increase my chances of getting a job in any part of the world, as I would be able to communicate with people of different nationalities. My first encounter with the English language course was in Malaysia where I attended the British Institute. This course took a total of 4 years and was composed of seminars on the English language, skill development, as well as language development. On the same note, the course did not merely focus on enhancing my proficiency in the English language but also assisting me in personality development. The fundamental aspect of the course was the interaction with the native English speakers. Not only did the interaction provide me with the opportunity to perfect my English but it also drove me to seek more proficiency so as to smoothen my communication with them (Birdsong, 2006). Even more motivating was the ease with which they used the English language, which not only enhanced my admiration of them but also created a notion in my mind that maybe learning English was not so difficult after all.
After the four years, I moved to Australia where I have been pursuing advanced professional development course in English. While varied factors have played an immense role in assisting me learn English, I would credit my current proficiency to age and motivation. Scholars have noted that individuals that start learning English at an early age are able to grasp its concepts faster and gain the proficiency of native speakers compared to those who start at an advanced age (Wesely, 2012). Starting my English lessons at an early age gave me a head-start and allowed me to lose my accent and align my pronunciations appropriately, while improving my vocabulary (Birdsong, 2006). On the same note, young age comes with an element of flexibility with regard to what one can learn and unlearn (Firat University, 2001). Young people have sufficient agility to absorb new ideas and learn new skills as they do not have much troubling them (Hansen, 2006). Research has also shown that policymakers, parents and educators have increasingly been in support of the concept of exposing their kids to foreign languages at an early age so as to prepare them for a multilingual environment and future that comes with increased globalization. This, however, does not mean that the earlier a person starts learning a foreign or second language, the easier (or quicker) it is to become proficient. Indeed, I am happy that I started learning the second language at 12 as research has shown that adolescents and older adults have a unique long-term advantage as far as learning vocabulary or even reading comprehension is concerned. This is because such students can access a considerably broader scale of conceptual knowledge pertaining to their varied native languages, alongside a significantly broader scope of overall knowledge. Research shows that successful learning would be primarily based on the current or existing language. This is the same case in instances where words used in the language that an individual is learning may be deduced on the basis of the native language. In addition, the varied techniques that an individual develops in the course of learning a native role have a crucial role to play when one takes up a second or foreign language.
My enrolling for a professional course at an older age also allowed for the development of metalinguistic capabilities, alongside the capacity to solve problems. In addition, external and internal motivation played an immense role in enhancing my proficiency. Internal motivation emanated from my personal desire to be proficient in English so as to enhance communication with my peers and widen my opportunities (Cook, 2008). External motivation mainly came from my teachers and fellow students who understood the immense task that was learning English as a second language. In essence, not only did they simplify the lessons and exhibit patience but also taught it as a way of comprehending an entire way of life (Gass & Selinker, 2008). On the same note, they acknowledged the differences in our backgrounds, in which case they customized the teaching material and styles so as to cater for everyone’s needs. This allowed for ease in adapting to the English way of life (Lorenzo, 2008). Even more motivating was the feedback that I got in the course of my learning irrespective of the grade or the performance that I managed. In all the cases, the teachers would give a verbal feedback, which was not only more personal but also came as a reflection of the necessity of personal improvement. The teachers would never interpret the failure of a student as being the product of any deficiency in the personality or aptitude of the learner. Indeed, the rules of pedagogy underline the necessity of ensuring that improvement remains an attainable goal, with the teachers providing feedback that reveals possible steps that could be taken to ensure that proficiency is developed (Hansen, 2006). The internal and external motivations are complemented by the integrative motivation that I have had in the course of taking English as a second language. Having moved to Malaysia where English happens to be a dominant language, it became necessary that I gain proficiency in the language so as to operate socially and get a sense of belonging through operating socially. Research has shown that students that become most successful in learning a target language are those that like the people who use the language, have a desire to be familiar with the society that uses the language and admire the culture of the people using the language (Hansen, 2006). For me, learning the language is not only imperative but also a necessity especially considering the global village that the world has become. It would increase my chances of getting a good job, not only in this country but also in others especially with multinational corporations, which means that learning the language is in line with my career aspirations.
Of particular significance is the use of patterned writing plans that allowed for specialization of the topic covered, as well as its key points. This prevented generalization and enhanced proficiency through ensuring correct grammar, vocabulary and tenses in the sentences, thereby enhancing uniformity and correction of any mistakes (Kormos & Csizer, 2008). Moreover, they allowed for active learning, which enhanced confidence and reading capabilities. On the same note, interviews and sample questionnaires were used so as to comprehend the unique priorities and needs of the students.
Overall, I would term my language learning experience as successful. This, however, is a result of the external and internal motivations, as well as the efforts of teachers in customizing the teaching styles to enhance our capacity to comprehend the English language.
Birdsong, D., (2006), ‘Age and second language acquisition and processing: A selective overview’, Language Learning, 56 (1), 9-49.
Kormos, J. & Csizer, K. (2008), ‘Age-related differences in the motivation of learning English as a foreign language’, Language Learning, 58(2)
Lorenzo, F., (2008), ‘Instructional discourse in bilingual settings’, Language Learning Journal, 36(1), 21-33
Gass, S., & Selinker, L., (2008), Second language acquisition: An introductory course (3rd ed.), New York: Routledge.
Cook, V., (2008), Second language learning and language teaching (4th ed.), London: Hodder
Firat University (2001) ‘The Effects of Age and Motivation Factors on Second Language Acquisition’, Journal of Social Science, 11(2)
Hansen, J. G. (2006). Acquiring a non-native phonology: Linguistic constraints and social barriers. London [etc.: Continuum.
Wesely, P., (2012), ‘Learner Attitudes, Perceptions, and Beliefs in Language Learning’, Foreign Language Annals, 45(1)
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