This is our rough draft for the Content Analysis group project.
Language Analysis Paper
by Adrienne Krater, Alex Paat, Morgan Phillips, and Michael Pickett
Learning a new language is not only an art, it can also be a very long and daunting task. Students from a Linguistics class at Cedarville University were granted a semester to learn a new language. We discovered that a resounding failure echoed throughout the essay responses written by these students. While some of the students say they found some benefit to this assignment, many of the students felt they were unsuccessful on the acquisition of a new language. There are many reasons for this defeat that were emphasized throughout the essays, but we were able to deduce a few common themes that reverberated in the papers. Having the right motivation and enough time set aside will assist in the acquisition of a second language with traits such as attitudes, pitfalls, benefits, and useful practices, but each experience will be unique and different.
There are many factors that come into play when there is either a desire or a need to learn a new language. It can be argued that one of the most important themes that comes into play during this language acquisition process is your attitude and motivation for learning this new language. Often times, the person learning this new language is interested in the country and the culture that is associated with it but not always driven to learn the new language fully. Learning a new language is no easy task and if you don’t have the proper motivation to learn it, it prompts for an even harder task. Many of the students had proposed that they did not successfully learn the new language as much as they had liked. Often times, they accounted this to the fact that the motivation to learn the new language was just not there. In essay 10, they promoted the idea that “…it is easier for someone to learn a language out of necessity than for leisure. Whether it be the person is submerged in a culture and needs to understand the language to go about daily life, or the person is planning on going into a culture of different language, both are equally more motivated than a person who is not planning on using the language they wish to learn.” This idea holds true throughout most of the essays that were written during this assignment. While they had a desire to learn it, they simply did not have the right attitude about learning it due to the tight time schedule and lack of necessity to learn it. Expanding on this idea, many of the students complained that they did not have enough time to learn the language with all of the other classes and busy schedule that were accompanied with this assignment. As a direct result of the lack of time granted for the assignment, the students felt much more pressured into learning the new language and as a result lost much of their motivation to continue this language learning process. Ultimately, many of the students approached this assignment by choosing a language that they simply had a small or even a fairly significant interest in. In essay 12 it was stated that “I think that the only problem that I had issue with was because I lacked the motivation to learn it and wasn’t as devoted to learning it as I could or should have been…Although I like the language, I do not plan on ever visiting a country that speaks Portuguese.” Although many of the students expressed an interest in the language and the culture that accompanied this language, they did not have the right motivation to fully acquire a new language.
In addition to lack of motivation, another pitfall to this method of language acquisition is the fact that learning individually without a teacher was difficult. The student who wrote paper 10 explains how their experience in public school led to them being used to having an instructor instead of learning on their own. “I grew up in public schools all of my life, and my teachers would teach me all the information, and if I didn’t understand it, I would ask them for help.” One of the students who felt the most successful about their experience was the student who wrote paper 9; one of the reasons that she felt so successful was because someone in her group was more experienced with the German language and helped her along the way. (CITE THIS PERSON’S PAPER) It is clear that language acquisition in an isolated environment is a definite pitfall to learning.
“I had developed a systematic way of learning language because I had taken the methods that I had usd to learn Spanish and applied them to learning French.” The writer of Essay 13 knew what worked in his or her learning and what wasn’t beneficial to the learning process. Each of the essays followed the theme that everyone learns differently, one needs to have a proper understanding of how they learn. However, there were common themes that were useful for each author in learning a new language.
One of the bigger themes in each of the essays was that it is hard to learn a new language on your own. The author of Essay 10 says, “It’s also hard when you’re not being taught the language but must teach yourself.” Five out of the six essays we read, at one point in the essay, focused on the difficulty of learning a language without a teacher or a group. The author of essay 9 combats this difficulty by effectively meeting with a small group. The author says, “A big part of our success, however, came from the accountability of the meet-ups. The authors who met with groups regularly and had accountability during the learning process felt more successful learning their chosen language, opposed to those who didn’t meet regularly.
The theme that appeared in all of the essays was the theme of motivation. The author of essay 14 says, “Also, I do believe that my failure had to do with lack of effort and motivation partially as well.” The author of essay 13 describes the two kinds of motivations, “Integrative motivation is the motivation that results from the learner wanting to incorporate himself or herself into the language’s community or culture and comes simply out of the desire to learn more about the language and culture.” Integrative is the type of motivation that will drive the learner to be successful even without a teacher. Wanting to learn the language for the sake of gaining the knowledge and using it in the future will create a successful learning program. The author then continues to describe the second type of motivation, “, instrumental motivation, which results from wanting to learn a language in order to get some sort of practical benefit from it, such as getting a higher salary or fulfilling an academic requirement.” Neither of these motivations are necessarily bad. The author of essay 13 even told the reader that he had both type of motivation. However, integrative motivation will drive to learn for the sake of gaining knowledge and accomplishing something, while instrumental motivation lacks the drive to learn and stems from wanting to benefit you. The authors all agreed that, even if they had both types of motivation, the instrumental always overrode the integrative motivation, causing them to not be as successful as they could have been. Motivation is key. With the correct motivation you can accomplish almost anything you set your mind to, even learning a new language on your own.
“I was not successful in my attempt to learn the Russian language due to my lack of motivation, but I did learn some things about the Russian language in the process.” (Essay 10, Paragraph 1) All of the papers had a similar ring to them with failure in the forefront and benefits finishing last. Though there were some benefits in each paper, each person would say that from every failure they experienced they gained beneficial knowledge in some area. For example in Essay 10 the benefits may not have outweighed the failure, but there were still benefits. He still knows more now about Russian language than he did before, and I would dare say that is quite a benefit.
Essay 9 talks about how, “overall the experience was very eye-opening and I feel like I learned more about the process of how someone acquires a language as a second language.” This student took on the daunting task of learning the German language and like all of those before him, felt as if he failed. Also like all of those before him though, he felt as if he grew through the task. His experience became more beneficial when he made his partner LL more of a teacher than a peer or when he realized how much you really have to work to learn a new language.
We uncover a similar problem in Essay 12, but they made the benefits of their situation stand out. She discusses how learning another language was a good experience for her, because it showed her that learning another language wasn’t impossible. She found benefits in growing closer to girls in her unit who were also trying to learn Portuguese. Unlike all of these experiences above, there was one essay where the benefits definitely out shine the negative aspects.
A positive vibe flows through the entire paper with success thick in every line. “I was able not only to dive into the Russian language but also learn a little about the language’s rich culture and its people as well.” (Essay 13, Paragraph 15) The benefits of learning a language are not held only to learning the words and how to communicate. Learning a language opens you up to new experiences such as learning about a whole other culture of people and how they live, and it can expand your view of the world in general. No matter where or how your experience falls, there are benefits that bloom out of every situation, especially when one is learning a new language.
Language is something necessary to life. These students took on the task learning a new one to expand their repertoire of life. Each one of these students that undertook the task to learn a new language experience different attitudes, encounter pitfalls, uncover benefits, and apply useful practices to get where they are trying to go. Each one came out with a new perspective on cultures and languages. “Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry, to savor their songs.” -Nelson Mandela