Manuel Flores Lasarte

    Many thanks for your contributions here so far. Lots of interesting points that I’d like to draw your attention to:

    Your experience seems to be quite similar to the one of most second language learners:

    • You started your second language learning once you were a fluent speaker of your L1. Most of you started in your adolescence.
    • In all cases, you had some formal teaching (i.e. you were explicitly taught the language you had to learn and then practised it using a variety of exercises). The methods you have mentioned so far include:
      • Learning done through repetition / habit formation (what Anna mentions as ‘Audio-Lingual method’)
      • Traditional grammar-translation approaches in which learners study the grammar rules and then apply them to controlled practice exercises (e.g. gap-fills, matching exercises, error correction, etc.). The new language is generally explained in the students’ L1 and every new structure is translated from L2 to L1. This method is quite common in compulsory education in many countries (e.g. Spain, as Angela mentions).
      • Communicative approaches in which students are guided to use the language in tasks that imitate real-life tasks. This is the common method used in teaching nowadays.
      • A combination of all different approaches (‘the eclectic approach’). As Anna mentions, there is some good in each of the previous approaches so a combination is also commonly used nowadays.

    We’ll learn more about these approaches in week 5 but thanks to your discussions I’ve been able to introduce them already.

    Like you, most L2 learners face the following difficulties:

    • No motivation / can’t see the practical application (like Jennifer)
    • The language is too challenging to learn (see for example Yi-hsuan experience with French)
    • Learners can be confused if learning two similar languages (e.g. French and English, Italian and Spanish)
    • Too many formal lessons can be tiring (see Emma’s experience learning German)
    • Language may seem illogical or strange (see Angela’s or Yi-hsuan’s posts)
    • Difficult to remember new vocabulary, especially if they are trying to memorise random lists (see for example Liuyizhi Wang)
    • Lack of exposure (even when living in a country that uses the target language)

    However, these are some of the things that can be done to overcome those difficulties:

    • Be motivated to learn the language (compare Jennifer’s learning experience with German and French)
    • Trying a variety of methods to find out which one best fits their learning style.
    • Use the language in natural contexts (e.g. by working in a country where the target language is spoken)

    From your posts, we can also see that some people manage to learn a second language successfully even when they start at a later age if they have enough exposure. However, we know that living in an environment in which the target language is used is not always enough and that some formal teaching is needed (see Emma’s post).

    Based on all these reflections, let’s have some follow-up questions:

    If you have not contributed yet, is your learning experience similar to the ones mentioned here?

    If you have already contributed, what can we do in our teaching to ensure that our learners improve their language skills as much as possible? Consider:

    • Motivation
    • Exposure to the target language
    • Opportunities to use the target language
    • Range of skills
    • Ways of remembering new language more easily

    Sorry for the long post but I think you’ve mentioned very good points and I wanted to expand on them! I look forward to reading your ideas on the follow-up questions!