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Second Language Learning: Factors Affecting Success In Learning A Second Language

1547 words - 6 pages

Second language learning is the process of learning a different language other than one’s mother tongue resulting in the ability of an individual to use one or more languages different from his first language. It can take place in a natural setting or through classroom instructions; however, the degree of proficiency differs (Gomleksiz, 2001).
Learning is a conscious process that includes thorough explanation of grammar rules, practice of those rules, as well as memorizing lists of vocabulary, usually in a classroom setting (Wisniewski, 2007). Learners usually use their culture, first language, environment, background and personal experiences among others to learn a second language.
Second Language learning is necessitated by the different situations of different people. For instance, it can be for social or academic purposes. Learners are affected by many factors in the second language acquisition process such as level of cognitive development, socio-economic and cultural background, age, motivation or ability and intelligence (Gomleksiz, 2001; Wisniewski, 2007). This paper will however concentrate on how intelligence or aptitude and motivation affect the learning of a second language.
According to (Wisniewski, 2007), second language learning process differs from first language acquisition, with the latter taking place usually from infancy in a community using a specific language and affected mainly by neurological developments in the brain (McCain, 2000) while the former taking place usually in schools or later in life and affected by age and associated characteristics (McCain, 2000).
It is necessary to draw a distinction between foreign language and second language learning. According to (Wisniewski, 2007), a language learnt in a community that uses a different mother tongue, is said to be a foreign language, and the process, a foreign language learning. For instance, a Kenyan student learning French in Kenya is said to be learning a foreign language, since French is not the common language in Kenya. In contrast, a language learnt in a community that uses the language, is said to be a second language. For instance, a Kenyan student studying is Spain will study Spanish as a second language.

According to Holt (2001), motivation in second language learning is the learner’s orientation with regard to the goal of learning a second language. It is a desire for learning (Gomleksiz, 2001). That is, it is the inner force or strength that drives an individual toward learning a second language. A below average student with the motivation to learn a second language is likes to succeed than an intelligent student not motivated. Motivation is divided into two basic types- integrative and instrumental (Holt, 2001; McCain, 2000).
Integrative motivation is the learner’s positive attitude towards the target language group and the desire to integrate into that target language community. For instance, if an individual loves and would like to identify...

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