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The Impact Of Culture On Second Language Acquisition

959 words - 4 pages

The issue of English language learning has been always a controversial one for almost all non-English language countries around the world these days. However, it seems language learning difficulties are not restricted to those who attempt to learn English. This is the same issue when an English speaker attempts to learn another language especially the Middle Eastern or Asian Languages. There are several hypotheses and theories concerning the language learning difficulties from different perspectives. One of the theories to explain second language acquisition issues from the sociocultural/sociolinguistic point of view is Brown’s (1980) Optimal distance Model, which is in parallel with Schumann’s (1986) Acculturation Model. Brown (1980) and Schumann (1986) state that both second language learning difficulties and the level of mastery in that language can be determined within the period of culture adaptation known as acculturation (Brown, 1980; Schumann, 1986).

Statement of the Problem
As Hidasi (2004) indicates, there is a hypothesis suggesting the existence of an intensive correlation of communication tactics as well as teaching-learning tactics, which are all acquired during childhood as a part of the subconscious culture (Hidasi, 2004:1). In other words, the notion of learning as well as teaching can differ depending on the culture. Apparently this is not easy to interpret culture. According to Brown (2007), culture refers to customs, beliefs and ideas which represent a particular group of people in a particular period of time (Brown, 2007:380). To learn a new language, in fact, is to learn a new culture. Better to say, language learners go through a process of developing identical relations between cultural representatives, which affects their feeling, thinking and acting pattern (Brown, 2007). Accordingly, this can be presumed that there is a culture acquisition process parallel with the language learning process. In fact, the term acculturation refers to this adjustment process to the new culture or as mentioned acquisition of the new culture (Spackman, 2010). Seemingly, Brown (1980) and Schumann (1986) have employed this term when describing the Optimal Distance Model and the Acculturation Model. They, also, defined motivation as an instrumental factor regarding acculturation (Spackman, 2010; Schumann, 1986).

Optimal Distance Model
Based on the critical period theory, the natural factor to limit the language acquisition process in the brain is age. However, Brown (1980) stated that acculturation is the main defining factor regarding the critical period. He proposed the Optimal Distance Model, defining acculturation as the most optimal stance to acquire a second language for a second language learner. Brown (1980) also suggested that there is a certain period within acculturation for learners to master the second language and that is the Optical Period (Brown, 1980). Cultural adjustment or acculturation come...

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