The Journey of Learning a Foreign Language: Triumphs and Trials
Frank Smith once said, "One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way." As the generation moves forward and advancements take place, languages evolve and continuously adapt within societies.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author, an alumni of ITTT (International TEFL and TESOL Training). They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of ITTT. The content provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as official endorsement or representation by ITTT.
In the constantly escalating globalization, language learning serves its purpose of allowing communication between people of different countries and cultures, breaking down the barrier that prevents connection and network.
Furthermore, it serves a variety of significant purposes such as for job employment, studying abroad, businesses, career choices, and international communications. Language learning is a discovery and continuous experience that will bring learners into different cultures, traditions, literatures, and connections across the board. It is a gate that opens up for opportunities and growth on diverse factors.
Languages are unique and influence aspects such as culture, socialization, and continuous advancements in education. The variation in languages differs from country to country and place to place, providing a sense of identity for each country.
One of the official languages of the world, as stated by the United Nations, is English, both in written and spoken form. According to data published by the Statista Research Department (2023), there were approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide who used English either as a native or second language.
In most countries, English is considered a native or first language. However, in some countries such as Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, etc., English is not considered an official language and was introduced into the education system at a later time.
In the perspective of students who are not natively fluent in the English language, the time it takes to fully grasp the understanding and usage of this language might be a challenge. This foreign language experience is filled with difficulties and thorough learning but also with great advantages and benefits in the near future.
In the current generation, learning English as a foreign language is done with different methods that can capture the attention of students while also maintaining an interactive and fun environment. These methods are incorporated into teaching and educational programs, specifically: Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
Through these methods of learning the language, students or learners can fully embrace the experiences and knowledge gained from learning a foreign language. However, despite the variation in learning methods, the full experience still depends on the learners.
In accordance with the study by Quimosing (2022), foreign language anxiety was one of the known difficulties encountered by students, wherein the failure to learn English can result in problems such as low grades, learning difficulties, and poor developmental skills. The personal experiences of the students are a significant factor to consider when learning a foreign language. Different experiences vary from person to person; it can all result in a great advantage or disadvantage.
Teachers and educators worldwide play a significant role in the foreign language experience. As indicated in the study by Bao, Lawrence, and Dixon (2021), sustainable learning of a foreign language requires a teacher's high level of self-efficacy and engagement.
However, despite being the mediator of conflicts within a classroom and a nurturer who provides knowledge and skills to the students, teachers also have good and bad experiences in teaching a foreign language. These experiences include exhaustion, stress, or difficulties within their profession.
Teaching is considered a stressful and challenging career as it has numerous challenges and requires forming rapport with all students. The stress that teachers can acquire from this can affect their value of teaching.
Particularly, teaching a foreign language has a lot of additional burdens for teachers as it requires mastery of the language and later presenting it creatively for the students to learn (Yang, 2022). It can be an extremely challenging experience for foreign language teachers whose native language is not English, as it requires them to have both mastery of the language and professionalism in the work environment. It is a cause and effect that affects both parties, wherein a teacher's well-being can affect the student's learning experience, and vice versa.
Experiences and benefits of learning a foreign or second language differ among people. It may be learning experiences coming from students or teaching experiences from the teachers. These experiences may vary from great or bad experiences, but it all comes back to the root, which is learning a foreign language.
As Winston Churchill said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts." Similarly, it reflects the study of a foreign language, wherein these experiences, whether good or bad, can help a person achieve success. It is the courage and perseverance that count, and every failure has room for improvement and continuous learning.
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ReferencesThe most spoken languages worldwide 2023 | Statista. (2023, June 16). Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/266808/the-most-spoken-languages-worldwide/#:~:text=In%202023%2C%20there%20were%20around,at%20the%20time%20of%20survey.
Quimosing, A. (2022). Learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL): A Narratology. SALTeL Journal (Southeast Asia Language Teaching and Learning), 5, 13-21. doi: 10.35307/saltel.v5i2.85.
Bao, C., Zhang, L.J., & Dixon, H.R. (2021). Teacher Engagement in Language Teaching: Investigating Self-Efficacy for Teaching Based on the Project "Sino-Greece Online Chinese Language Classrooms". Front. Psychol., 12:710736. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.710736
Yang, H-m. (2022). English as a Foreign Language Teachers' Well-Being, Their Apprehension, and Stress: The Mediating Role of Hope and Optimism. Front. Psychol., 13:855282. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.855282