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An Interview With an English as a Second Language Learner


The acquisition of a second language is a topic of substantial debate in linguistics. This area is fascinating since it involves a wide range of disciplines, such as psychology and education. This, for example, may show how it may be used in a variety of ways, not just for language acquisition or learning, but also for illuminating how the mind works. Even if you do not think about it, language may be the sole way to transfer knowledge. In recent years, there has been a spike in interest in second language learning. The vast majority of the world’s population only speaks one language, not two or more (Dewaele & Li, 2020). While 300 to 400 million people speak English as their first language, the 1 to 2 billion who do so as a second language outnumber them. Many children grow up in villages, speaking one or two languages at home, another at school in a nearby town, and yet another when they move to a larger city or province for university or job. Furthermore, a rising number of people are learning a second language or dialect to travel to other countries, attend college, or marry. In light of the aforementioned, the paper provides an analysis of the interview conducted on the English second language learner.

Fundamental Difference Hypothesis

The Fundamental Distinction and the Critical Period Hypotheses appear to be important to people who study second or foreign languages. The age of a person has a significant impact on both language acquisition and development. There is a widespread perception that the best time to learn a new talent is while one is young. Adults are less capable than children of learning a new language. According to the study, they do appear to be capable of good communication in their tongue. Children develop native-language competency between the ages of 10 and 15 (Bley-Vroman, 2009). Furthermore, during the early stages of language learning, they continue to improve and perform better than their younger counterparts, demonstrating that puberty is not a good cut-off point for long-term language learning (Bley-Vroman, 2009). Due to the fundamental features of foreign language learning, children may be unable to learn specific languages. Adults study foreign languages in the same way that they study other subjects that do not necessitate the use of specialized learning techniques. Assume that adults do not learn to speak the same manner that children do. If we believe the acquisition technique is flawed, we may be certain that it will likewise fail. When adults are allowed to invest the necessary time, effort, and mindset, as well as the proper learning environment, many of them may achieve extraordinary results. It is difficult to convey both the high level of proficiency that can be attained and the vast range of variation that can be found when learning a new language.

The Input Model

Furthermore, it appears that Stephen Krashen’s Input Model takes into account the learner’s background and ability to communicate verbally and in writing. By going over Krashen’s Model, you can understand how he came up with many ideas that have shown to be successful in practice. One of these theories proposes a separation between acquisition and learning (Krashen, 2007). They are unaware that they are communicating in a language until they recognize it. Another unanticipated effect of language acquisition is the acquisition of great command of a language. As a result, we are not always familiar with the rules of the languages we use. This provides one with an “impression” of whether or not anything is correct. As such, we should utilize appropriate language and terminology that seem or feel proper, even if we are ignorant that a guideline has been broken. To learn a second language properly, you must be aware of and able to explain the laws of the language. The student statements appear to corroborate the previously expressed views on this study in various ways (Krashen, 2007). Although several of the word forms are incorrect, he appears to have produced grammatically correct terms. When he speaks, he appears unskilled with the precise grammar of his words. While he appears to be satisfied with some of his assertions because he “feels” they are genuine, this does not mean he is not embarrassed by others.


The purpose of this assignment is to see if a participant’s history of second language acquisition corresponds to current trends. To more clearly answer the question of why people acquire a second language, this study will investigate if an individual’s desire to comply with the target language’s cultural norms or modern globalization tendencies contributes to his motivation to learn the language. Furthermore, this study looks for links between ideas of second language learning and an individual’s background and method of acquisition. The participants’ inputs will be used to determine these associations. An attempt will be made to generate reasonable or possible suggestions for the participant’s learning needs based on all of these diverse inputs and linkages.

Research Questions

  1. What is the motivation for language acquisition as a second learner the society?
  2. What is the primary motivation for persistent learning of English as a second language in a desire to interact with foreigners?
  3. What are the linkages with the prominent theories of second language acquisition?

Participant Information

This particular assignment piqued the curiosity of a 54-year-old adult Chinese participant. He spoke fluent Chinese as his first language and stated his intention to study English as a second language as part of his educational ambitions. He began studying the English language at the age of nineteen and has been interested in the topic for nearly four decades. After ninth grade, he enrolled in a high school elective course targeted expressly at it. This accomplished his goals of learning English to communicate with people from different nations and enabling him and his family to travel the world.

Interview Analysis

In terms of motivation, when the participant wants to communicate with people from other countries, he learns English as a second language because he believes it will be incredibly useful during his travels across the world. He also remarked that when he speaks English fluently, he feels as though he has a wonderful sense on the inside. According to what he mentioned, he does not appear to have an imminent need to learn English. He has no desire to study English because he has no intention of relocating to an English-speaking country. He lists several reasons for his unwillingness to learn English. This is his goal: To become an expert in the English language; nevertheless, he recognizes that this is unlikely to happen. There are various options available to him, and he is willing to investigate any of them. Demotivation can also emerge from discussing your age and comparing yourself to other students who are much younger. Younger students, he observes, have a better ability for recall, attentive listening, and imitative behavior. This could imply that he has difficulties in certain areas. His lack of time and opportunities to practice English also contributes to his incapacity to communicate in more authentic or mainstream circumstances. People learn English for a variety of reasons, including the Acculturation Model, which emphasizes the need of connecting with strangers and learning about people and cultures other than one’s own. The learner’s immigrant status in a new country is substantially more challenging than a student’s immigrant status in a new country.


The following are some of the key findings from the interview: He started learning English when he was 19 years old and has not stopped since. He picked it as a high school elective when he was in ninth grade and excelled. He wants to enhance his English so that he can communicate with people from all over the world and travel faster. It was against the law for him to do so when he was a child. He has, nevertheless, shown an interest in broadening his global understanding. At the time this narrative was written, foreign languages and additional schooling were illegal in his own country. “You will be imprisoned as long as you are captured”. He used to distrust his English lecturers because of their inadequate command of the language. As a result, he had to learn the language on his own.

To begin, he viewed English-language DVDs or CDs, listened to educational radio, and watched instructional television. Because he had not been able to communicate with anyone in English for a long time, his initial thought was that they were meaningless. He now likes online sessions since they allow him to communicate with native English speakers as well as receive feedback from the teachers who are training him. He is still having difficulty learning English since he does not have many opportunities to utilize it in his daily life, such as a job, in his career, or his personal life. That is why he must strive so hard to obtain it. When it comes to language development, he believes that age is crucial. He believes that because children have greater memory, hearing, and imitating abilities, they have a huge edge over their parents.

To make his point, he compared people to computers and phones, particularly in terms of memory capacity. He was not hired in the end. He likens today’s youngsters to a brand-new smartphone with plenty of storage. As the capacity of their memory store reduced, their performance deteriorated with time. His best (receptive) abilities are reading and listening, while his worst (expressive) abilities are writing and public speaking (production). He argues that Chinese college students are better at reading and writing than listening and speaking (communication skills) (oral). He added that they are unable to communicate successfully in English owing to a lack of linguistic control since they must first think in their original language and then convert it into English.

Learning how to speak in a second language demonstrates that you can react to queries from the interviewer in a second language. Even though he asked for clarification several times during the interview, his ability to deliver relevant and appropriate responses shows that he is a reader. If he can speak another language, he may be able to express himself more fully. He continues to repeat words and sentences while seeking to expand. This is just another flaw that should be highlighted. They also highlight how tough and restricted his capacity to communicate in this second language is for him. Several times during the interview, parties are seeking to interpret what the other is saying. This is a positive indicator because many children did not appear to be able to express themselves in the manner that would be required in a variety of situations. During the interview, his self-awareness and vocabulary recall appeared to be failing, as he was compelled to look up the word intellectual in a dictionary in the midst after using other adjectives such as smart. This raised some doubt about the learner’s intended intention.

Similarities and Differences

In terms of similarities, it is plausible that universal grammar has an effect on both the participant’s and my ability to learn a second language. Universal grammar may influence how well a person learns a second language, whether independently or through their native tongue. Throughout our lives, we both go through predictable stages and learn about specific structures in predictable ways. Each person chooses how quickly or slowly they go through these stages. Furthermore, I feel that making mistakes is an essential part of learning. To create an internal representation of the language, students must construct and evaluate beliefs about how it works. We can use large expanses of language without breaking them down or viewing them as independent units of thinking at times. We may make even more mistakes later on when they begin deconstructing each piece of text into its basic parts. I used the correct form of an irregular verb as part of a linguistic chunk, but then made the mistake of prefixing the same verb with a regular prefix, as he did.

For the differences, when it comes to learning a new language, universal grammar is all one needs to get started. When I first started learning a new language, I wanted to start with what I already know about my native speech. When one learns a second language, one may experience both positive and negative linguistic changes. For a long time, I could not understand even the most basic vocal remarks until I learned to read and listen to telegraphic speech and to speak and read text. On the other hand, it took the participant less time to compose sentences when learning a second language than it did when studying their native language. Success informal second language learning was connected with the use of higher metacognitive processes in older persons. Language experts can not only explain how language works, but they can also change its structure. There is a chance that this will help you learn more quickly. Everyone brings a lot of life experience and expertise to their studies of a second language. He is better qualified to acquire a second language than the majority of people since he has a bigger number of schemas and learning tools at his disposal.

Personal Insights

It becomes plain, if not obvious, that the learner’s second language learning history, motivations, learning styles, and language performance all match numerous assumptions about how people have traditionally learned second languages. He wants to learn English as a second or foreign language to reach a certain level of proficiency. As a result, he can communicate and interact with people from other countries and cultures without having to leave his home country of China. However, because the learner is unable to fully immerse himself in a new culture, he or she is unable to fully assimilate. Individuals learning a new language may endeavor, even if it is difficult, to generate and maintain a sense of “cultural variety” in their imaginations. As a result, the learner will be unable to fully integrate into the target culture, preventing him or her from learning the target language correctly.

It is vital for instructors to help children develop the ability to adjust to these types of situations while yet preserving their identities outside of school. In his work, Krashen (1985) suggested a strategy for achieving this goal by introducing his “comprehensible input hypothesis.” While he does not feel that learning a new language is vital or relevant in general, he does believe that this learner’s position may necessitate it. The primary reasons why people learn languages are individuals who are unable to obtain input elsewhere, individuals who are unable to obtain input elsewhere due to their circumstances (for example, foreign language students who lack input sources outside of the classroom), and individuals who are unable to obtain input elsewhere due to their abilities (those unable to understand the language of the outside world). As long as a learner’s current situation remains constant, the most difficult and crucial role of a teacher is almost certainly to construct classrooms that are easily understood by students and encourage them to develop their cultural heterogeneity.

Furthermore, the learner should be aware of the different talents that adults possess, which provide them an advantage in terms of learning over younger students. Adults have significantly higher cognitive load and anxiety than children and adolescents, which might be considerable. However, there are certain benefits to learning a second language when you are young. I could be better at abstract reasoning and problem solving than I am now.

Personal Reflection

There has been a tremendous shift in the manner in which children can learn over the years. The participant started attending courses as soon as he started studying English. However, he quickly learned that other techniques to learning were superior. His options to learn English were limited at the time, similar to why foreign language instruction was outlawed. This could have jeopardized his capacity to further develop his second language skills and, given the opportunity costs, could have affected his level of proficiency. Even if a person’s first language is difficult, the structure of two languages (the first and second) can help them acquire a new language. Even if the learner’s native language is a barrier, this is true.


Bley-Vroman, R. (2009). The evolving context of the fundamental difference hypothesis. Studies in Second Language Acquisition31(2), 175-198.

Dewaele, J. M., & Li, C. (2020). Emotions in second language acquisition: A critical review and research agenda. Foreign Language World196(1), 34-49.

Krashen, S. (2007). Stephen Krashen’s theory of second language acquisition. Stephen Krashen’s Homepage Website. Retrieved April18, 2007.


Interview Transcript

Interviewer: It was a nice evening. How did you acquire your English language skills, and wherein the United States are you from? Ok?

Participant: It is alright

Interviewer: What am I on the lookout for? When did you begin your English studies?

Participant: It is fine. I started studying English in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I am unsure. Eh. That was more than three decades ago.

Interviewer: Ok. As a result, why did you decide to learn English?

Participant: That is a fantastic suggestion. Simply put, senior high school. I am not certain. I am not certain. This is a senior high school class from my senior year. I am a senior in high school. This is a class in which I am enrolled. In high school, every student should learn how to speak and write English.

Interviewer: That is right, thank you. That is incredible. Because you have already earned a high school diploma. You proceeded to learn or study English out of a sense of necessity.

Participant: That is OK to me. You must have heard me express at some time how vital it is for me to learn English. To improve my English: I am not sure. That is accurate. I am here for a reason. This is something I am capable of completing. This is something I am capable of completing. English is a language that I am capable of learning. I would like to practice speaking English with a foreigner. As a result, I adore touring the world and speaking English enables me to do so easily. I am not certain. This is somewhat tough for me to articulate. When I was a child, well, in my native place… We relied solely on the newspaper for information. Because I had lost trust in the Chinese newspaper, I wanted to see whether there were any credible tales. I attempted to determine this because I desired to know whether the world was real or not. You can obtain a better knowledge of our real-world if you study English.

Interviewer: That is correct. We appreciate your time.

Participant: Can you. Are you in a position to assist me? Is what I said understood? My grammar or how I express myself may be improper, but there is no way for me to know.

Interviewer: What information do you seek? I believe I understand. If I am correct, I believe I know. I believe I correctly grasped what you were saying. You assert that the government previously banned you from conversing with anyone else. There was no other way to learn about it except through the newspaper. Contrary to what you read in the papers, do not believe everything you read. It may have been tampered with or altered.

Participant: Are you interested in accompanying me? China has become increasingly receptive in recent years. Chinese people are adept at communicating with the rest of the world. That is why I desired to study the foreigner’s beliefs, not their own. As an example, I am currently conversing with you. I am capable of establishing your beliefs. I dislike it when my translations are handled by someone else! This is precisely my intention (3) times to improve one’s English.

Interviewer: If you want to know the truth or what we believe, you should study English.

Participant: Yes

Interviewer: That is fantastic. That is incredible. Acceptable, and many thanks for bringing this to my attention. I am not certain… Could you please describe your method for learning English?

Participant: I’m interested in learning fluent English because it will be of help to me in communication and my working environment. What drives me the most in learning this language is the need of me wanting to be employed in this company. It has a good reputation. Moreover, English is used globally. That’s an advantage to connect and expand in the business field.

Interviewer: Okay, so have you enrolled in any classes or what are doing to perfect your English?

Participant: I read a lot of English books and documentaries, I am taking some classes online, so yeah

Interviewer: That’s impressive keep up and soon you will be there. So, I will get back to you by Monday. Thank you for your time. Next time. Bye.

Participant: Okay am looking forward to your feedback. Bye


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