Second Language Learning
o Second-language acquisition, second-language
learning, is the process by which people learn
a second language .
o Second-language acquisition also refers to the
scientific discipline devoted to studying that
o Second language refers to any language learned
in addition to a person's first language; although
the concept is named second-language
acquisition, it can also incorporate the learning of
third, fourth, or subsequent languages.
o Second-language acquisition refers to what
learners do; it does not refer to practices
in language teaching, although teaching can affect
o The issue of age was first addressed with the critical
period hypothesis. The strict version of this hypothesis
states that there is a cut-off age at about 12, after which
learners lose the ability to fully learn a language. This
strict version has since been rejected for second-
language acquisition, as adult learners have been
observed who reach native-like levels of pronunciation
and general fluency.
o Scholars believe that many factors can affect second
language learning and teaching practices, among them
age has been always regarded as a key factor.
o The starting age for learning a second/ foreign
language is a debatable issue about which different
ideas have been proposed by various stakeholders
o Some scholars refer to the critical period hypothesis
for L1 acquisition and believe that before puberty is
the best time to start learning/ teaching a foreign
o From another point of view, scholars reject the
appropriateness of this claim in second language
learning/ teaching regarding the evidence that adult
learners, in some aspects of language, are said to
acquire a foreign language more easily. These
researchers claim that concepts such as multiple
critical period and the presence of motivation based
on which any person can start learning a foreign
language at any age can be good examples.
The advantages of early second
o According scientific surveys, language aspects such as
pronunciation and intonation can be acquired easier during
childhood, due to neuromuscular mechanisms which are only active
until to the age of 12.
o Another possible explanation of children’s´ accent-free pronunciation
is their increased capability for imitation. This capability fades away
significantly after puberty. Another factor that we should take into
consideration is children’s flexibility, spontaneity and tolerance to
o Kids are more willing to communicate with people than adults, they
are curious and they are not afraid of making mistakes.
o On the other hand there are surveys which point out the risk of semi-
lingualism and advise parents to organize language planning
The advantages of late second
Consider the following factors:
Adults (meaning people after puberty) have an
a) cognitive maturity and
b) their experience of the general language system.
Through their knowledge of their mother tongues, as
well as other foreign languages, not only can they
achieve more advantageous learning conditions than
children, but they can also more easily acquire
grammatical rules and syntactic phenomena.
o It would be useful to point out that sometimes
incorrect pronunciation is not a matter of capability but of good will.
According to different surveys, adults do not feel like themselves when
they speak a foreign language and they consider pronunciation an
ethno- linguistic identity-marker. A positive or negative attitude
towards a foreign language should not be underestimated.
o Another factor to consider is the adults 'motivation to learn a
foreign language`. When an adult learns a foreign language there is
always a reason behind it: education, social prestige, profession or
social integration. The latter is considered a very strong one,
especially in the case of immigrants.
o So what is the best age for a person to start learning a foreign
language in situations where there is a choice, and where it is not
critical that a native-speaker-like pronunciation is acquired?
o The answer, according to current research, is early adolescence,
so about 11-13. And the more motivated the child is to learn the new
language, the more successful he will be!
Definition of the Affective Filter
o According to the affective filter hypothesis, affect effects
acquisition, but not learning, by facilitating or preventing
comprehensible input from reaching the language acquisition
o In other words, affective variables such as fear,
nervousness, boredom, and resistance to change can effect
the acquisition of a second language by preventing
information about the second language from reaching the
language areas of the mind.
o Affective filters can be raised or lowered as a result of the
environment that individuals are in, interactions with peers
and/or teachers, or due to personal factors such as insecurity
o In Krashen’s work, the affective filter hypothesis
explains the role of affective factors in the process
of language acquisition .
o It suggests that emotional variables can hinder
comprehensible input from reaching the part of
the brain responsible for acquiring language.
o Krashen postulated that an affective filter exists
that can increase or decrease the intake of the
o He found that a high level of stress and anxiety creates
a filter that impedes learning, blocks the intake, and
reduces L2 acquisition.
o When the filter is up, input can’t reach those parts of the
brain where acquisition occurs.
o Many language learners realize that the reason they
have trouble is because they are nervous or embarrassed
and simply can’t concentrate. In other words, the input is
o Krashen also concluded that a low affective filter on the
other side facilitates learning and promotes second
Affective filter and second language
o The Affective Filter hypothesis embodies Krashen's view that a
number of 'affective variables' play a facilitative, but non-causal, role in
second language acquisition. These variables include: motivation, self-
confidence and anxiety. According to him, it is easier for a learner to
acquire a language when he/she is not tense, angry, anxious, and bored.
o Krashen claimed that learners with high motivation, self-confidence, a
good self-image, and a low level of anxiety are better equipped for
success in second language acquisition. Low motivation, low self-esteem,
and debilitating anxiety can combine to 'raise' the affective filter and form
a 'mental block' that prevents comprehensible input from being used for
o In other words, when the filter is 'up' it impedes language acquisition.
On the other hand, positive affect is necessary, but not sufficient on its
own, for acquisition to take place.
How to make use of Affective filter
hypothesis in second language teaching
o Analyze students’ learning motivation, motivate
them, and help them possess a positive attitude
Some students have very poor performance on
the L2, only because they have little or not enough
motivation for it and there are mainly five reasons:
Teacher’s inappropriate teaching method.
Some negative national emotions against the
Students think it no use to learn.