Anxiety (fears and phobias) in the acquisition of a second language
A great number of researches about L2 acquisition in children and young students have been carried out, but we do not have enough information about the way in which adults learn a foreign language. Scientists support the hypothesis that our brain looses part of its ability to learn as we grow up, so the acquisition ofanother language in adults is harder than in the case of young people and children and the methodology should be different too, maybe more based on repetition and drills. However, methodology employed with adults is similar to that used with children. I would really like to research into adults' fears and phobias in L2 teaching-learning process, and how we can avoid them or get over by means of agood methodology adapted to the features of our students and their necessities. My aim is to prove that other methods, such the audiovisual method, are more productive and efficient than the traditional approach, and how this method can solve the problems of fears and phobias, making the learning process more natural, relaxed and meaningful for (adult) Spanish students of English. In addition, weshould bare in mind other relevant elements when we teach English, the environment, or atmosphere where our students are immersed and learn. Sometimes, a good atmosphere could solve the problem by itself or reduce it. Another element of great influence on the way fear to speak and participate in class is represented by the teacher's role.
In teaching a foreign language, teachershave to face a great amount of problems related to academic issues. In those cases in which we may observe that our students do not acquire the second language, we tend to think that the problem lies in the methodology employed, the activities developed in class, the level of difficulty of the theoretical contend, the material used, the cognitive difficulties of the students, etc. Teachers eventhink that is a matter of interest, those children who are not interested in the acquisition of a second language do not learn it.
Sara Vera Cano
Nevertheless, these reasons are not enough to explain why sometimes the acquisition of a second language is so hard for our students. As well as all the objective and academic reasons presented above, there are other more subjective aspects inthe teaching of a foreign language which block students' learning. Some of them are related to the way in we approach to the target language. In Spain,the traditional approach to English teaching has been focus on the so called grammartranslation method. The most important aspects of this method, deal with grammar correction, so everything is based on theoretical information about English grammarand on grammatical exercises lacking real meaning for students. This method has been used for years in teaching second languages, not just for English. Students learn by heart a series of grammatical rules of the language that they use to fill the gaps of the activities proposed by the workbook this is a mechanical process. This method just develops reading and writing skills. Nowadays, differentapproaches to second language teaching have appeared, and they all share the communicative perspective. These theories consider that the main aim in the acquisition of a foreign language is to be able to communicate in this language. Grammatical rules are important, but not crucial. The student should be able to understand and produce messages in the second language since the beginning of theprocess. This new communicative approach supports the total immersion theory, in other words, the Spanish learner is in direct contact with English, and all the input that he/she receives about this language is in the target language. The results show that this new approach is successful with children, specially in early ages, but we do not have the same results in the case of adults. When we work...
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