Second Language Learning: Factors Affecting Success in Learning a Second Language

Second Language Learning: Factors Affecting Success in Learning a Second Language

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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 lear...


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...t/cupidlucid/3-factors-affecting-l2-learning-presentation, n.d). Just like in intelligence, successful language learners are not necessarily strong in all the components of aptitude.
In conclusion, success in second language learning depends on many factors; motivation, aptitude and intelligence are just a number of important ones. For motivation, it has been found that, motivated students are more successful than those not motivated. Motivation is the most important factor compared to intelligence and aptitude, though it has to be considered in light of other factors. This is because, as long as an individual is motivated, even if his IQ and aptitude are low, he will be able to succeed in language learning. In a nutshell, the greater the motivation, intelligence and aptitude levels of a student, the greater the chances of succeeding in learning a second language.

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