Thursday October 27, 2011
Barriers to learning a language
REAMS of ink are spilled over “how to learn English successfully” in high school year books perennially.
But the suggestions given unanimously fall short of bringing one pivotal prerequisite to light – overcoming the many psychological and societal factors involved, namely the learner’s attitude towards the target language, context, and the learner’s gender, among others.
Given the presence of the aforesaid articles written by linguistically competent English teachers with their individual feasible learning strategies, they are in practice intangible and virtually non-applicable to most learners when they overlook the foregoing prerequisite.
At this juncture, situational inspired teaching strategies employed by teachers to help overcome the affective entities of learners can be a remedy, if any.
It is evident that all the mentioned affective factors will, in all ways and always, affect the learner’s learning progress.
Take attitude for instance: if a learner has negative attitude towards English, she/he is not likely to learn the language successfully. If a learner resides in a non-English-speaking context, lack of real-life practice will be the bone of scarce improvement.
As for gender, according to research done globally in diverse communities, females tend to learn the dominant target language wholeheartedly and successfully as they see it as a life-and-death matter towards higher position and esteem in prevailing male-dominated societies.
English learning strategies abound, informed by linguists and language teachers all over the world.
These strategies include comprehensive discussion, listening to radio/TV/Youtube broadcasts, role-playing and reading for pleasure.
But with the existence of the affective factors, those recommended strategies are not going to work effectively and fruitfully as the said prerequisite is inextricably central in successful second language learning. – Khei Yok Man