Posted by: 22tshah | February 27, 2009


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Introduction: The case study made on the basis of interviews and two adults were chosen based on the second language development. The first interview was conducted with Mr. Bruce who is a migrant from China and the second was Ms.Hema from India.

The reason for selecting the above two persons for my study was because they were residing close to my house and I knew them well as friends. I had the advantage of talking to them according to their convenience which allowed them to communicate in a friendly environment and in a relaxed state of mind.

Summary of informant’s history of second language : Mr. Bruce was first to be interviewed and it was interesting to know and hear about the progress of the second language. He is in his early thirties and migrated to US in 2006 from London .He was born and brought up in Shanghai which is a well developed modern city in China.

Mr. Bruce learned to speak his native language which is Cantonese and was educated in a vernacular school till he passed his high school. He began to learn English as a second language from grade six when he was around 11 years old. His teachers in school who taught him English were also Chinese. He did not pay too much attention to learning the language till he joined college and realized that to get a foreign degree from US or UK he had to learn the language well.

My second informant was Hema who migrated to US after her marriage. She is from the southern province of India and grew up in a rural place. The school she studied had English as the second language which was introduced in the elementary school. The language spoken at her home and neighborhood was Telugu as a result learning English was not developed till she was in high school and because she was interested in watching English movies she was motivated to learn and read more which improved her vocabulary and grammar. This greatly helped her with communication and improve her accent.

The main reasons students give for studying a modern language (Coleman, 1996)

1. For my future career
2. Because I like the language
3. To travel in different countries
4. To have a better understanding of the way of life in the country or countries where it is spoken
5. Because I would like to live in the country where it is spoken
6. Because I am good at it
7. Because it is an international language
8. To become a better-educated person
9. To meet a greater variety of people in my life
10. To get to know/make friends among the people who speak it

My two informants were from different countries and were motivated to learn the second language due to different reasons. However both knew a language which was the mother tongue before learning the second language. As stated by Cummins(2000)

Mother tongue promotion in the school helps develop not only the mother tongue but also children’s abilities in the majority school language. This finding is not surprising in view of the previous findings that (a) bilingualism confers linguistic advantages on children and (b) abilities in the two languages are significantly related or interdependent. Bilingual children perform better in school when the school effectively teaches the mother tongue and, where appropriate, develops literacy in that language. By contrast, when children are encouraged to reject their mother tongue and, consequently, its development stagnates, their personal and conceptual foundation for learning is undermined.

The learning of the second language was enhanced for the two informants and it took about 4-5 years to have a vocabulary of 6000 words and speak with proper grammar.

The age the my two informants began to learn the second language also differed .

1.  Adults proceed through the earlier stages of syntactic and morphological development faster than children (where age and exposure are held constant) 2. Older children acquire faster than younger Children (again, the early stages of syntactic and morphological development re time and exposure are held constant. 3. Acquires who begin natural exposure to second languages during childhood generally achieve higher second language proficiency than those beginning as adults.

(Krashen,Scarcella,long -Age in L2 Learning.)

The similarities seen in the language learning of my two informants had very surprising results. The learning of the language changed over time. The accents also changed over time .The vocabulary was seen to increase from a fixed expressions of greetings to good communicators and finally excellent conversationalists. Both my informants had no great external pressure when they began learning the language and were comfortable to learn in their own pace .Both used technology to improve the English language. Both benefited

in their respective careers in knowing to speak ,read and write English .

List of Questions:-

1.What is your mother tongue ?

2.What language do you feel most comfortable in communicating?

3.At what age did you began to learn English?

4.What methods were adopted to teach English in school?

5.Did you have help at home with learning English?

6.Narrate a incidence which helped in knowing English as a second language.

7.What was the social environment for learning?

8.Did you use technology to help you in learning English?

Current CD-ROM technology can supply the necessary supports or “scaffolds” to make a wide range of target language text comprehensible to learners and to build learners’ language awareness, thereby fueling the language learning process.(Cummins -e Lective language learning)

9.What strategies did you adopt to learn English?

10.What are the two most important benefits of knowing English as the second language.

A mouse saved her young from a ferocious cat by barking ‘bow wow’. After the cat ran away, the mouse said to her offspring ‘See, children, it pays to know a second language’

Tripti Shah.


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