It is quite observable that some learners learn a new language
more quickly than others, because they are successful by virtue
of their strong determination, hard work and persistence.
Yet, some other learners are not very successful in learning a
new language, and it is obvious that there are some crucial
factors influencing success, which are mostly beyond the control
of the learner.
These factors can roughly be categorised as ‘individual
(internal) factors, external factors, and lastly as ‘affective factors’.
I. INDIVIDUAL FACTORS
6. Native language
the age of the learner
influences the 2LA
Children having strong
literacy skills in their own
language, seem to be in a
better position to acquire a
new language in a more
effective way. Very
motivated, older learners can
do it, but usually they should
try hard to become a native-
“You can't teach an old dog new tricks”
It has been hypothesised that there is a critical period in 2nd LA just like
there is for 1st LA.
CHP: there is a time in human
developement when the brain is
predisposed for success in language
learning. Opposite findings
Language learning that occurs after
the end of CP may not be based on
innate(biological) structures, but
rather depend on more „general‟
learning abilities, and innate
capacities are much more effective
The CP ends somewhere around
Patkowski (1982) found that age of
acqusition is very important factor
in setting limits on the
developement of native-like
mastery of a 2LA, and this limit
does not only apply to accent, but
also applies to syntax and
He found that learners who started
earliest achieved the higest scores
on the grammatical tasks, and
those who began later didnt have
native like language abilities.
Studies demonstrate that adults
and adolescents learnt faster
than children in the first year of
(Asher & Price, 1967; Snow &
Hoefnagle-Hoechle, 1978 cited
in McLaughlin, 1992)
Effects of age on RATE of second
Adults are superior to children
in rate of acquisition
Older children learn more
rapidly than younger children
With regards to morphology
and syntax, the adolescents do
best, followed by the adults and
then the children
Grammar differences diminish
over time, and children begin to
catch up, but adults outperform
children in the short term
Where pronunciation is
concerned, adults do not always
progress more rapidly than
Thus: adults learn faster
than children, and this is
more applicable to
pronunciation, although in
the case of formal learning
situations adults seem to
do better even in the
pronunciation area. It is
not clear when children
start to catch up.
Introverted or anxious learners
usually perform slower
progress, especially in the
development of oral skills.
They are less likely to take
opportunities to speak.
More outgoing students will not
worry about the inevitability of
making mistakes. They do not
care about taking risks;
thus they get more chances to
do much more practice in the
"I know one thing, that I know nothing“
Learners who have already developed general
knowledge and experience are in a stronger
position to develop a new language than
those who haven't. For instance, a learner
who has been to two/three foreign countries
and exposed to different cultures build a
stronger ground for learning an extra
language than those learners who have not
had such an experience.
•Intrinsic motivation shows itself when you
want to do something, an internal desire to
perform a particular task. People do certain
activities because they give them pleasure,
develop a certain skill or they are morally
the right thing to do.
Extrinsic motivation is when somebody else or
something tries to make you do something
Instransically motivated students are bound to do
much better in classroom activities since they are
willing and eager to learn. Yet, extrinsically
motivated ones may have to be „bribed‟ to perform
the same tasks.
apparently students with
greater cognitive abilities
make a faster progress.
Some Chamskyan linguists
suppose that there is a
specific, innate language
learning ability which is
believed to be stronger in
some students than in
II. EXTERNAL FACTORS
3. Culture and Status
5. Access to native speakers
Particularly for the ESL students, it
is essential that the totality of thier
educational experiences should
be suitable to their needs. If
learners are entirely submersed
into a mainstream program without
having any additional assistance,
then language learning is less
likely to occur.
Very clearly, if language learners are exposed to appropriate and effective learning experiences in their classrooms,
they will make faster progress. Thus, the job of the language teachers should be to provide suitable and effective input
though their instuctions.
Intervention. An academic intervention is a strategy used to teach
a new skill, build fluency in a skill, or encourage a child to apply an
existing skill to new situations or settings. An intervention can be
thought of as“a set of actions that, when taken, have demonstrated
ability to change a fixed educational trajectory” (Methe & Riley-
Tillman, 2008; p. 37). As an example of an academic intervention,
the teacher may select question generation (Davey &
McBride,1986.; Rosenshine, Meister & Chapman, 1996), a strategy
in which the student is taught to locate or generate main idea
sentences for each paragraph in a passage and record those „gist‟
sentences for later review.
L2 instruction can have an effect on how learners acquire a L2 (Ellis 1991, Long 1983, 1988;
Rutherford & Sharwood-Smith 1985)
"L2 instruction is effective in its own right" (Norris & Ortega 2000:480)
"while instruction may not always be necessary to achieve competence in the L2, it
undoubtedly helps"(Ellis 2005: 725).
In some contexts, for some learners, for some L2 features, or for some aspects of L2
proficiency, instruction may even be necessary(DeKeyser 2000; Doughty 2003; White 2003)
There is some evidence that students under the condition in which their
mother culture has a lower status than the target language’s culture
that they are learning will make a slower progress.
Social factors can affect motivation, attitudes and language learning
Children, just like adults, are quite sensitive to social dynamics and power
Imigrant learners are quickly labelled identities such as
successful/unsuccessful, talkative/quiet etc...
2.4. ACCESS TO NATIVE
Since native speakers of the TL can act as linguistic
models and since they can provide effective feedback
for the TL learners, it is very advantegous to have the
opportunity to interact with the native speakers, not
only in the classroom setting, but also outside of it.
It is obvious that those 2L learners having no extensive
access to native speakers of the TL are supposed to
make slower progress, especially in the aural/oral
aspects of language acqusition.
3. AFFECTIVE FACTORS
Affective factors are emotional factors which
influence learning, such as:
Self-esteem refers to a personal
evaluation and judgment of
worthiness that is expressed in the
individual's attitude towards him or
herself or his or her capabilities.
Low motivation, low self-esteem,
and debilitating anxiety can lead to
a raise in the affective filter and
form a 'mental block' that hinders
comprehensible input from being
employed for acquisition. (Krashen
cited by Schütz, 2007)
Inhibition in a person
emerges when he/she
attempts to defend or protect
his/her self-image. If the
learner considers the
mistakes he/she makes in
the second language as a
threat to his/her emotional
well-being and self
perception, then acquisition
will not take place or will
occur much more slowly.
3.3. RISK TAKING
One of the characteristics
that has been found to
exist in "good" language
learners is the willingness
to guess. If the learner is
less inhibited, he/she is
more willing to take a
chance on producing a
"correct" utterance in the
Anxiety is associated with the
feelings of uneasiness, self-
doubt, worry or fear that a
person feels under certain
circumstances. A threatening
environment does not promote
language acquisition. Factors
such as an emphasis on
competition between students
or forcing students to produce
in the second language before
they are ready can cause
Empathy refers to an individual's
ability to put him/herself in the
other's shoes. When a learner is
acquiring a second language, he
or she is also acquiring, in a
sense, a new personality, and a
new culture. It is essential in the
language acq. process to open
yourself to new cultural
experiences and adopt these
experiences as your own.
Being successful in second language acquisition depends on many
factors. Age and motivation factors are among the most important ones.
In studies, it has been found that if a learner has a competency in his or
her own language, he or she is more advantageous than those who lacks
competence in his first language. As to motivation, it has been revealed
that motivated students are more successful in second language
acquisition than those who are demotivated. Also, the role the
psychological aspects play in gaining an extra language cannot be
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