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SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

Lecturer : Dr. Tagor Pangaribuan, M.Pd

By:
DARWIS SIMBOLON
Reg. Number : 1710202007

POSTGRADUATED PROGRAM OF ENGLISH EDUCATION


NOMMENSEN HKBP UNIVERSITY (NHU)
MEDAN
2019
Problems in learning language acquisition
Learning a second language is never easy. Learning English as a second language is
even less easy. Particularly if you are learning English outside of an English-speaking
country. For instance, English language learners in Indonesia, and some other Asian countries
face a lot of challenges because English is not the native language of these countries. For
many learners of a second language, multiple factors complicate learning the oral component
of a new language. Firstly, they have to learn how to segment speech that they hear into
phrases and words, so that they can decode what these mean. This is not a simple task, as
speech is in fact a continuous acoustic signal, and the burden is on the hearers to know where
to segment the signal. Furthermore, there is a great amount of variability – or lack of
invariance – in second language speech. Coarticulation, where the context of the words can
affect how the same sound is produced, can lead to variation within a single person’s speech.
For instance, the /d/ is acoustically different in [di] and in [du] (and probably sounds quite
different to the naked ear), as the vowel influences the sound of the preceding consonant.
However, there are also variations in the nature of the sound signal received due to
physiological reasons: gender, age, and even weight has been shown to affect the quality and
frequency of speech.
Across speakers, regional accents can also make it difficult to understand what the
speaker is saying. For example, second language French classrooms often teach based on the
Parisian French accent, but second language learners can then face problems when trying to
decipher the French of speakers from Marseille or Bordeaux, who have different accents. The
context of understanding speech is also rarely perfect: there is often background noise which
prevents hearer from obtaining the complete acoustic signals from speech. Hence, second
language learners have to develop skills to normalize all this variation within and across
speakers, whose speech they have to understand within imperfect and noisy settings.
Native speakers of a language develop particular faculties in order to manage the
challenges of perceiving speech. They can use top-down processing, where contextual
information helps them to guess what was said. For example, if you are in a noisy
environment, and your friend tells you “I’m going to the toilet” while pointing in the
direction of the toilet, even if you only hear the word “going”, you have sufficient
information to guess, based on non-linguistic cues such as pointing and prior background
knowledge of where the toilet is, that your friend is going to the toilet. Conversely, L2
learners have no such recourse, and it will be more difficult for them to understand the same
sentence if placed in a similar situation.
Furthermore, categorical perception is developed by native speakers to aid in the
discrimination of sounds as they are categorized by that particular language. This categorical
perception could be different for second language learners whose native languages are
dissimilar to the target language, such as Japanese. Native Japanese speakers learning English
have been found to have problems differentiating between the English /r/ and /l/ (and also
producing them), as Japanese does not possess an explicit distinction between the two
sounds, which in fact exist on a continuum (Iverson et al., 2003).
As for speech production, there may be sounds that the learner has not produced
before. Imagine if someone who has never spoken an African language now has to learn
different kinds of clicks which are so prevalent in African languages like Xhosa (Lewis &
Roux, 1996). This would certainly take some time and effort to acquire. Therefore, some sort
of training is required to train the learner’s muscles that are used for speech, such that they
can now produce these novel sounds, as researchers have tried to do with students learning
English as a second language (Owolabi, 2012). Difficulty is increased when L2 learners
acquire sounds in isolation, but then have to incorporate these sounds into the contexts of
words, phrases, and sentences. Coarticulation implies that learners also have to be aware of
when the sounds should be altered, but learning sounds in isolation does not provide this
range. For example, in the phrase “report book”, native speakers tend to elide the /t/ sound,
and second language learners who are unaware of that may pronounce it, which could make
their speech sound odd to native speakers.
Lastly, perception and production do not have a direct relationship. Even if a second
language learner is able to correctly discern L2 sound categories, accurate production of these
categories is not guaranteed. After all, children have been found to be able to distinguish
sounds not found in their native languages from native speech sounds after 8 months of age
(Kuhl et al., 2014). Furthermore, native Cantonese speakers who are English second language
learners in Hong Kong (Chan, 2014) produced English consonants that they perceived to be
similar to their Cantonese counterparts poorly, even though they should have been easier to
produce. They also had difficulties in producing certain sounds that they showed high
accuracy in perceiving, like the consonant found in the English word “they” (Chan, 2014).
Just as there are problems faced in learning English as foreign language, so there are
challenges in learning English as second language. These English language learners often
face the following challenges, some of them are:
1. Unqualified teachers
This is the most significant and the most overlooked problem. What makes this
problem so difficult to solve is that, since many communities are English language learners,
they cannot determine who is a good English teacher and who isn't. Whatever the teacher
says, whether correct or incorrect, will be taken as correct by the learner. This has led to a lot
of confusion among learners because different teachers tell them different things. One of the
main causes of this problem is the difficulty teachers have translating from their native
languages. For instance, the word ‘cup’ is pronounced by different teachers as either [kap],
[kop], or with a vowel sound that does not exist in English. For instance, the sound /Λ/ does
not exist in the sound systems of many African languages, so even teachers sometimes have
problems pronouncing it.

1.1 The theory related to the needs of qualified of teachers


Teachers are considered the most important in-school impact factor on the quality of
student achievement. In the McKinsey report How the world’s best-performing schoolsystems
come out on top this is stated clearly: ‘The available evidence suggests that the main driver of
the variation in student learning at school is the quality of the teachers’ (Barber and
Mourshed 2007: p12). Based on a large scale survey on factor influencing learning outcomes
of pupils, Hattie (2009) suggests that the quality of teachers has a larger impact on the
learning of pupils than the quality of the curriculum, the teaching methods, the school
building or the role of parents. As a result of the widely acknowledged importance of
teachers, much attention is given to policies with respect to teacher quality, both on a national
and the European level. The European Council and the European Commission have published
policy documents and recommendations for quality improvement of teachers and teacher
education and stimulate national governments to invest in the improvement of teacher quality
(Commission 2005, 2007; European Council 2007, 2009).

2. Limited learning environments


When I talk about limited learning environments, I'm not referring to the weather, the
availability of furniture in the classrooms, or the location of the school. While all of these
factors can affect learning, in learning English, what happens outside of class matters most.
In most cases, students only make an effort to speak proper English in the classroom when
they are under supervision. Moreover, students don’t always hear people around them
speaking proper English. As a result, it becomes more difficult to learn correct English.
Learning materials refer to items that aid in the learning process. Books may be a
necessary material, but books are not enough by themselves. Audio tools are also needed. As
observed above, if a student sees a sound symbol in a book, how does he/she know how to
pronounce it? The fact is, students of English Language graduate into teachers of the English
language without ever getting to hear the correct pronunciation by a native speaker.
Students also study haphazardly. They have books to read but they can’t tell how
certain words are said. How would a student know how to pronounce the word ‘ewe’? He/she
must hear the right pronunciation from his/her teacher or from a native speaker of English.
Students tend to learn from movies they watch but they often learn the wrong things because
movies contain slang and dialects that are not appropriate in many forms of communication.

2.1 The theory related to the effect of envirenment on learning second language
Environmental factors have significant impact on learning second languages,
especially learning vocabulary (Collentine, 2004) and reading comprehension (De Jong and
Leseman, 2001). The environment impacts vocabulary learning through the degree of
authenticity of the L2 environment (Collentine, 2004; Dewey, 2004; Hakansson and Norrby,
2010) and the home literacy environment (Reese et al., 2000; Suter, 2006). For the degree of
L2 exposure, the influence on students’ vocabulary development is unclear. Evidence among
studies has failed to prove the existence of significant advantages in studying abroad over
studying domestically in terms of the development of vocabulary knowledge (Dewey, 2004),
proper written vocabulary usage (Freed et al., 2003), and speed of vocabulary acquisition
(Collentine, 2004). A student’s home environment may also account for the student’s
vocabulary development. A majority of studies showed that predictors such as a family’s
socioeconomic status (SES; Reese et al., 2000) and the literacy activities parents engaged in
with their children (Hart and Risley, 1995) may be related to literacy development.

2.2 The Effect of Environment on Reading Comprehension


Environments also influence learners’ reading comprehension in both first language
(L1) and L2 (De Jong and Leseman, 2001). For L2 learning, external factors such as home
literacy environment and instructional environment may have influence on students’ reading
development (Dreyer and Nel, 2003; Reese et al., 2008; Netten et al., 2016; Yao and Renaud,
2016). Instructional environments may also have impacts on learners’ reading abilities such
as reading time and accuracy (Yao and Renaud, 2016) and use of reading strategies (Dreyer
and Nel, 2003).
Many studies examined environments by investigating their effects on either
vocabulary or reading comprehension. Few research studies attempted to examine
environmental effects on both variables. Moreover, fewer studies tried to compare the L2
authentic environment with a mixed language learning environment in terms of their effects
on vocabulary development and reading comprehension. The present study tried to examine
whether immersing students in a high level of L2 authentic environment would help them in
acquiring vocabulary knowledge and promoting reading comprehension. This study would
also measure learning gains when presenting students with bilingual form-meaning. These
two types of environmental settings would be compared and analyzed based on their
effectiveness of vocabulary learning and reading achievement.

3. Students don't take their study seriously


In this case, students often think that the same English they speak at home or on the
street is the same they will write in their exams. However, because communication doesn't
have to be grammatically correct in order to be intelligible, students don’t always always
abide by the rules they learned in school and therefore do not get fully educated and/or pass
their tests. It is also the case that students don’t study English as much as they study other
subjects. In most cases, students study English only in the classroom when the teacher is
teaching. After the class, they drop their books and wait for the next class. They don’t study
pronunciation, they don’t study essay writing, and they don’t make an effort to learn new
words. They bring every little problem to the teacher during classes, even things they could
just look it up in the dictionary. When learners make mistakes and are corrected, they often
say “It is not my language after all.” This greatly affects their ability to learn English.

3.1 Theory related to make the students study seriously


We all know the importance of good education, which is why we push our children to
achieve academic success. However, too much stress and pressure on children to do well in
academics can cause them to start disliking school and shun studies. As a parent, for your
child to do better in studies, you need to help her learn how to manage her time and establish a
daily routine for homework, study and other activities. Not only will this prevent her from
feeling stressed, but also motivate her. Here are some effective strategies that can help you
encourage your child to study better and develop an interest in academics.
3.1.1 Create a positive learning environment
Let your child know that your love and support for him are unconditional, and not tied
to how he performs in school. So, create an environment of warmth, acceptance and
encouragement. We all crave appreciation for a job well done, and children are no different.
Highlight your child’s achievements and progress, using positive reinforcement to build self-
motivation. This approach is far more effective than punishing him for his failures. Also,
avoid using rewards or gifts as a bribe to make your child do what you want him to do. Most
important of all, avoid comparing your child’s academic performance with that of his
schoolmates, siblings or other family members. Instead of motivating him to try harder, this
approach is likely to decrease his interest in studies by making him feel discouraged. Giving
him long lectures and using threats or manipulation will not help either.

3.1.2 Give control and choices


You could draw up a study plan for your child to follow, but it’ll be wiser to get her
involved in planning and organising her study schedule. Begin by allowing her to make simple
choices such as choosing a desk and chair for her study area, the part of the house where she
wants to study, and which subjects to study first. Let her take more complex decisions as time
goes by, such as how much time she should spend on studying a specific subject, doing
homework and revisions, watching TV or playing and so on. This strategy will help nurture
your child’s sense of independence and self-awareness, as well as the learning skills she will
need throughout her life. It will also demonstrate to your child that you trust her decision-
making skills and abilities.

3.1.3 Know the areas of struggle


Every child learns at a different pace. Trying to meet high expectations of parents is a
common reason for stress and lack of motivation in children, when it comes to academic
performance. Review your child’s homework and his performance in tests from time to time.
Ask him if there are topics or subjects that he thinks are difficult to understand. Listen with
attention to what your child says and make it clear to him that he can approach you with his
problems at any time. Also, speak to his teachers to find out about his strengths and
weaknesses. It’s important for you to understand what kind of help your child needs, so you
can provide it to him.
3.1.4 Help with studies, but don’t take over
When you sit down with your child to help her with her studies, instead of just
monitoring and giving instructions, also offer your support and encouragement. Also, don’t
correct her mistakes the moment you spot them. Instead, encourage her to find her mistakes
and correct them on her own. Step in only after she has tried her best. And, when you give
instructions, remember to break down difficult concepts or topics into simpler parts and be
specific. Understanding your child’s interests and preferences can go a long way towards
helping her with studies. If your child likes to study alone, give her the space she needs. If she
prefers your company, remain nearby but carry on with your work. Make it clear that you’re
there to help her with problems, and not to do her homework for her.

3.1.5 Be a good role model


Children learn by example, and they are more likely to do things the way they see
other adults doing them, especially their parents and family members. If you want to motivate
your child to study, help him learn the right habits by setting an example. Avoid
procrastinating or complaining about your own work and household chores in front of your
children and project an air of confidence when dealing with challenges. You’d be surprised
how quickly your little one picks up on this! Try to schedule your work around your child’s
study routine as well, to avoid distractions such as noisy housework or a blaring television.
Also, encourage other family members to wear earphones if they’re listening to music or
watching television. Motivation can be internal or external, and, as a parent, you’re in the
perfect position to help your child understand what motivates her. Also, remember that
disinterest in studies may signal other problems, so talk to your child, be a good listener, and
provide extra help such as tutoring for extra study materials.

4. The lack of motivation or commitment to learn


The student with the lack of motivation or commitment to study will be left behind.
Sometimes they will be a source of problem to teachers and other students. Finally they are
characterized as follows:
 Makes little effort to be involved in the lesson and may disrupt the learning of others
instead.
 Fails to act on feedback, and as a result may make little progress.
 They are not interested in being challenged, and may give up without trying.
 Spends an inadequate amount of time on tasks and takes little pride in their work.
 Takes little or no responsibility for their own learning and progress.

4.1 The theory of motivation in education.


Lack of motivation in education can undermine the process of their learning.
Motivation has been central in both educational and psychological research. It plays a
significant role in several theories of human development and learning. There are some
expert who define the word motivation. According to Krause, Bocherner, & Duchesne,
(2003) the word motivation refers to getting someone moving. When we motivate ourselves
or someone else, we develop incentives or we set up conditions that start or stop the behavior.
David Myers (1996:297) states that “motivation as a need or desire that serves to energize
behavior and to direct it towards a goal.” Hamer (1988:51) states that motivation is some kind
of internal drive which pushes someone to do some things in order to achieve something or to
reach the goal.
According Jennifer George (2000:427) motivation is “ psychological force that
determine the direction of a person‟s behaviour, a peson‟s level of effort and a person‟s level
of persistence in the face of obstacles”. Brown (2001:75) states motivation is a factor of high
or low of the goal.
Based on the definition above, it can be concluded that motivation is an arousal,
impulse, emoticon or desire that consciously drives one doing particular action and order to
achieve goal. In short, motivation is concerned with the factors that stimulate or in hibit the
desire to engage in behavior. The educational equivalent to “location, location, location” is
likely to be “motivation, motivation, motivation,” for motivation is probably the most
important factor that educators can target in order to improve learning (Olson, 1997).
Motivation is defined as the act or process of motivating; the condition of being motivating; a
motivating force, stimulus, or influence; incentive; drive; something (such as a need or
desire) that causes a person or student to act (Merriam-Webster, 1997); and the expenditure
of effort to accomplish results (DuBrin, 2008; Williams & Williams, 2011, p. 2). Palmer
(2007) review the “student motivation as an essential element that is necessary for quality
education. How do we know when students are motivated? They pay attention, they begin
working on tasks immediately, they ask questions and volunteer answers, and they appear to
be happy and eager.”(Williams & Williams, 2011).
In the late 1987s, according to Brophy motivation to learn is a competence acquired
“through general experience but stimulated most directly through modeling, communication
of expectations, and direct instruction or socialization by significant others (especially parents
and teachers)” (Gregory, 2009, p. 2; Nukpe, 2012), offers some definition for motivation
where, Cherry (2010) views motivation as “the process that initiates, guides and maintains
goaloriented behaviours”. Brennen, (2006, p.4) believes motivation to be “… the level of
effort an individual is willing to expend toward the achievement of a certain goal” Guay et al.
(2010, p. 712) describes it simply as “reasons underlying behaviour” (Nukpe, 2012, p. 11).

5. Students become too dependent on the teacher


Part of learning anything means figuring out how to solve problems on your own. If a
student goes to the teacher with every little problem she/he runs into, then the student will
never be able to learn the language on their own. If students insist that they don't know how
to say or do something on their own, they need to be reassured that they actually can with
positive feedback and encouragement.
5.1 Theory and more explanation about students become too dependent on the
teacher
Today’s kids may be more helpless than at any time in history. They’re sheltered from
hurt, shielded from risk, and are expected to do less on their own, lest they face the horror of
failure. Literary, they are taught to depend on teachers for solutions to the simplest of
problems. The key, then, to students unlearning helplessness is teachers relearning
helpfulness. This starts with a shift from the teacher as the fountain of information to the
teacher as the facilitator of learning. Teachers should provide students access to the resources
they need to be successful, and empower them with the skills they need to use those resources
to support self-directed learning. An overly dependent student can command so much of your
attention that you have little time left for other students. This consequently limits his
involvement with his peers, thus minimizing opportunities to develop essential social skills
and stifling his social development.
The goal in working with an overly dependent student is to help him become more
self-reliant and to develop more trust in his own judgment. Normally, they are reluctant to
think, make decisions or even talk for themselves. Instead of looking inward for answers,
they tend to look to you for support and assistance- so much so that they risk becoming your
constant companion: spending more time at your desk than at his own, as he bombards you
with a blizzard of questions or simply hovers by your side. It then requires that you give him
attention in ways that foster his independence by communicating to him your expectations
and setting firm limits on your interactions instead of interacting with him in ways that foster
his dependence.
Another thing is to try to lessen the student’s reliance on others by helping him build
confidence in his own judgment and ability to solve problems. If he asks you a question, have
him share his ideas first, and then find a way to support what he says. If he struggles to
answer a question, encourage him to figure out the answer while giving him some hints and
leading him toward the correct answer. If he has a conflict with another student, encourage
both students to solve the problem themselves. Subject the student to the five-minute rule: tell
the student that he must work on a task for five minutes before he may ask you a question. It
might also help to identify what’s behind the student’s clinginess. Some children are
temperamentally shy and clingy, while others might be reacting to a specific problem. If you
notice a child becoming more dependent on you, talk with him and with his parents to find
out if something in particular is upsetting him.
Ultimately we need to empower students so they know how to advocate for
themselves. We do this by offering them opportunities to be in charge of their learning while
giving them room to ask for help where needed. Explicitly teaching reflection and modeling
the behavior, is a positive way to ensure that all students do learn to ask for help when they
need it, but to try on their own first. After working alone, they should reach out to peers and
then beyond that the teacher is available for help and always will be.