Speaking in the Target Language Is the Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

speaking in the target language is the expectation that a proficient speaker will sound like a native speaker. Is this an appropriate or realistic expectation?

Not a long while after the emergence of the subject of second language acquisition (SLA), which most of the scholars think came around the time of initial years of 1970s, there has been a need to develop ways by which to measure the development of the second language, aside from the usage of detailed homogeneous skill tests which were mostly appropriate to fulfill other objectives.

As per Freeman's (2009) information, the first declaration of this need was made by Kenji Hukuta (1976). Kenji Hakuta was concerned in knowing the path of his subject Ugusiu's English language development over a period of time. Besides the aforementioned practitioners, other L1 acquisition scholars had carried out for the pupils learning English as a national language. In the research of Brown, researches depended upon the mean length of utterance (MLU) as an instrument to gauge development. One hand, the MLU was apparently difficult to use in particular cases. However, the problematic nature of this imperfect mean of measuring development is not suitable in the case of the acquisition of second or nonnative languages, where the students are mentally mature and depend hugely on a set of utterances (Freeman, 2009).

In this paper, we will use these past studies as basis to determine whether or not it is a realistic approach to believe that one of the most of the significant barriers to speaking in the target language is the expectation that a proficient speaker will sound like a native speaker. The paper takes a negation stand i.e. It is not one of the most of the significant barriers to sound like a native speaker for a proficient second language speaker when speaking in the target language (English as a Second language). In this case the target language is English for an Asian student. The paper will present support on some of the real barriers that students have when trying to stain ESL standards and then highlight different useful ESL techniques that have been used in different situations before. The paper will also highlight some of the aspects for teachers to consider when designing the ESL curriculum.

Barriers to attaining ESL Teaching Standards

In this section of the paper, we highlight what we believe to be the real barriers to speaking in a target language i.e. English. This is done in order to provide support to negate the statement that 'one of the most of the significant barriers to speaking in the target language is the expectation that a proficient speaker will sound like a native speaker'.

Communication Apprehension

Communication Apprehension is anxiety connected with interacting with another individual. As per the studies, more than thirty percent of primary school ESL learners undergo certain level of communication apprehension. It is identified as a personal level of fear or stress related with either real or expected interaction with other individual or groups of people. For instance, several individuals are not comfortable with the idea of talking about their sexual accounts as they do not want to be judged (Horwitz et al., 2009).

Other causes that impact whether or not communication fear is existent and to what extent. The level of assessment that is what the person considers to be at stake, whether or not the member feels inferior to their audience; how noticeable is the member; the level of uncertainty in the circumstances; the level of dissimilarity between the speaker and the audience, the level of dissimilarity between the second language speaker and the native speaker in terms of the use of the language, memories of past outcomes, positive or negative and the presence or absence of interactive skills are all some of the causes that instill fear in the level of communication and worsen or alleviate it as the case may be (Horwitz et al., 2009).

Communication Anxiety

Stressfulness about language revolves around the anxiety and commonly cognitive response activated when learning in the second language (L2) setting. After a time of some conceptual problems and vague and inconclusive statistical findings, it would seem that the SLA researches have agreed on the notion that language fear is an emotional experience distinctly brought about by L2 scenarios (Horwitz et al., 2009).

An explanation to the conceptual description in this realm includes the differentiation between the circumstances faced by the speaker which include a situation-based circumstance, an attribute or trait that lead to certain choices and degree...
...Each of these offers a meaningful but somewhat a varied viewpoint on the methodologies being studied as part of ESL learning techniques. At the situation-based level, the issue is to understand the concepts that stay for longer time and across varied circumstances; as the attribute level, the issue is for experiences based in a particular moment in time without much of stress about how many times those experiences took place earlier or whether they are likely to happen again; at the conceptualization level the issue is to identify and develop wide and common trends of behavior (as cited in Macintyre, 2007).

We might be aware of a neurotic individual, who appears fearful all the time, or an individual troubled by speaking in the L2 or an individual feeling stressful at a given point in time. Respectively, these are all instances of attribute, situation-based and conceptualization anxiety. All the three degrees are present in the literature and each has a valuable part to perform in comprehending the language acquisition process (as cited in Macintyre, 2007).

Willingness to Communicate (WTC)

In second language learning, willingness to communicate (WTC) revolves around the notion that language learners who are ready to interact in the second language (L2) in fact seek opportunities to interact and even more so, these students in reality do interact in the L2. Thus, the eventual objective of the learning process should be to create in language learners the readiness to communicate and interact (MacIntyre, Clement, Dornyei and Noels, 1998). Language sessions that do not incorporate this are far from being successful programs. However, the WTC for individuals is believed to low when studying in the L2 environment due to the curriculums employed which is another major barrier in ESL learning.

Supporting ESL teaching/learning Techniques

The researchers discovered that the Asian ESL students, learning the language within the United States of America were prone to make a substantially greater number of practical than grammatical mistakes. This was in contradiction with the EFL group of students analyzed from within Asia who were prone to making more grammatical flaws as compared to the practice or speech ones. The severity of grading for the two forms of mistakes also depicted a variation in the respondents' language perceptions and differences between the two learning settings aforementioned. The ESL and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners' severity ratios for practical and grammatical mistakes were more or less exactly at the opposite ends of each other i.e. The mistakes made by ESL students within the U.S. were never made by those in different parts of Asia. The primary difference was that the ESL students thought the pragmatic inconsistencies to be graver while for EFL students the grammatical mistakes held more importance (as cited in Schauer, 2006). Hence, both these aspects can be considered to be strong barriers for local and international Asian students engaged in ESL learning systems negating the statement that the overall need for the second language speaker to sound like a native speaker is a barrier for appropriate SLA.

Bardovi-Harlig and Dornyei (1998) later subcategorized their EFL and ESL structures and designs as per the students' proficiency with the language. They discovered that the learners who belonged to a high proficiency category in Asia had both the practical and grammatical errors greater than the members who belonged to the low proficiency EFL category. When talking about the Asian students in the United States, the high proficiency category considered the practical inconsistencies to be more serious than the low proficiency category; but simultaneously, they regarded the grammatical mistakes less seriously (Schauer, 2006). Hence, both these aspects can be considered to be strong barriers for local and international Asian students engaged in ESL learning systems negating the statement that the overall need for the second language speaker to sound like a native speaker is a barrier for appropriate SLA.

However it is important to note here that the conclusions depicted in the study included the ESL respondents who had only in the recent times landed in the United States associated lower severity scores to the pragmatic flaws as opposed to the ESL students who had been learning for a period of 3 months or more in the specified environment before the research was carried out (as cited in Schauer, 2006).

The conclusions of this research depicted that a total of three variables have a significant role to perform in the student's knowledge and…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Dornyei, Z. (1998). Do language learners recognize pragmatic violations? Pragmatic vs. grammatical awareness in instructed L2 learning. TESOL Quarterly, 32, 233 -- 259.

Bialystok, E. (1991). Achieving proficiency in a second language: A processing description. In R. Philipson, E. Kellerman, L. Selinker, M. Sharwood Smith, & M. Swain (Eds.), Foreign/second language pedagogy research: A commemorative volume for Claus Faerch (Vol. 64, pp. 63 -- 78). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Bialystok, E. (1993). Symbolic representation and attentional control in pragmatic competence. In G. Kasper & S. Blum-Kulka (Eds.), Interlanguage pragmatics (pp. 43 -- 59). New York: Oxford University Press.

Bouton, L.F. (1988). A cross-cultural study of ability to interpret implicatures in English. World Englishes, 7(2), 183 -- 196.

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