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L2 development of Mohammed - Essay Example

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Introduction This report examines the factors that influence the L2 development of Mohammed, an Iraqi child who came to Australia as a refugee one year ago. The factors that will be considered in this report are: similarities and differences between L1 and L2, psychological factors, and social factors…
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L2 development of Mohammed
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Download file to see previous pages Context Mohammed is an Arabic ten-year old boy who immigrated to Australia from Iraq as a refugee one year ago. Mohammed received EFL instruction two hours a week in Iraq. He is familiar with some basic English vocabulary, grammar, and writing. In Australia, Mohammed attends the local primary school and Arabic classes on Saturday. He lives in Sydney's western suburbs with his parents and two older sisters. He is an average student who enjoys normal activities that boys his age enjoy such as videos, computer games and soccer. His parents completed year twelve schooling in Iraq and they highly value education and believe it is the way to success. L1 and L2 Mohammed's L1 is Arabic and it is quite different from the English language. The learner is familiar with basic English vocabulary, grammar, and writing which he learned in his EFL classes in Iraq. The relationship between the learner’s L1 and L2 can be explored by focusing on the following aspects. Similarities and differences Some researchers argue that if similarities between L1 and L2 exist, it will positively influence L2 development and that L1 serves as a cognitive resource in the learning of L2 (Swain & Lapkin 2005, cited in Forman 2010). For example, Schachter (1974) in his study of the use of relative clauses by four groups of students with different L1 backgrounds, Arabs, Persians, Japanese and Chinese, found that the Persian and the Arab learners used far more relative clauses than Japanese and Chinese learners did. Schachter explains that the Arabic and Persian learners already have such structures in their native languages whereas Japanese and Chinese learners are unfamiliar with these structures and tried to avoid using them. Other researchers, however, believe that differences between L1 and L2 negatively impact L2 development. Gass (1984) found that Spanish speakers were able to perform significantly better than Arabic speakers on a vocabulary test and this is due to the fact that the nature of Spanish language is close to English while Arabic is quite different. These are only two instances of similarities and differences between Arabic and English that might facilitate or delay Mohammed’s L2 development. L1 and L2 cultures In learning a second language, the learners cannot be isolated from their first languages and from their own cultures. However, L1 and L2 cultures may have similarities or the learner might have some knowledge of the L2 culture. It is assumed that Mohammed has some knowledge of L2 culture through the EFL classes he attended. His interest in videos and computer games might which represent youth popular culture could be another way to become familiar with L2 culture. His desire to be part of youth popular culture in Australia would positively impact his L2 development. Psychological factors There are three main psychological aspects that influence the learner’s L2 development. Age Mohammed’s age, which is ten years old, is an important factor that should be considered in examining his L2 development. According to Patkowski (1980, cited in Lightbown & Spada, 2007, p.69), second language learners can definitely achieve full native-like mastery of L2 only if they began learning before the age of fifteen. D?rnyei (2009) also examines the effect of age on the development of L2 and argues that learning L2 at a younger age is better only if it occurs in naturalistic contexts in which rich interactions with a variety of native ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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