Teach English in Qingjiang Zhen - Bazhong Shi

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In recent decades, the world has become more global with increases in international business and tourism and the demand and desire to speak two or more languages has significantly increased. As children, individuals begin to learn their native language, often referred to as the mother tongue or L1, and are generally fluent at a young age. Any language learned after the first language is a second language, typically referred to as a foreign language or L2. While an individual’s first language is learned through subconsciously acquiring the language that is around them and using trial-and-error to accurately produce the language, the learning process of the second language is often more difficult and clinical. (Unit 3, 2) With dedication, motivation, and an understanding of the similarities and differences between the acquisition of a native and a second language, learning a second language can be achieved by any individual. In the article Comparing and Contrasting First and Second Language Acquisition: Implications for Language Teachers by Hulya Ipek, Ipek identifies several similarities and differences in the acquisition of native languages versus foreign languages. In general, Ipek notes that language learning often follows a similar developmental sequence and acquisition order regardless of whether one is learning a first or second language. The second significant similarity is input, otherwise known as feedback, which may positively or negatively impact the language learner as well. Positive feedback will encourage the learner to continue the behavior into the future and instill confidence, while negative input may cause anxiety and uncertainty in the learner. Ipek discusses several differences in the language learning process as well, beginning with the Acquisition/Learning Hypothesis. With this hypothesis, it is believed there are two main manners in which an adult learns: acquiring subconsciously or consciously. Unlike learning the mother tongue, subconscious acquiring does not occur as readily with an older learner and they often must rely more on conscious acquisition of the language in the classroom. However, subconscious acquisition may occur during natural conversations with a native speaker or while reading a book; therefore, it is important to encourage language learners to extensively explore all opportunities to encounter the second language outside the classroom. The second difference Ipek presents is the Critical Period Hypothesis, which indicates that language acquisition occurs with less effort during early childhood. After this period, factors such as brain development, attitude, and the mental solidification of certain speech patterns begin to affect the language learning process. Finally, Ipek addresses the effects of the social setting on the language learner. In particular, Ipek highlights the importance and advantage of acquisition in a native speaking country, stating “the greater contact with L2 speakers and culture takes place the more acquisition occurs.” (160) If a student is dedicated and motivated to their studies and a teacher is passionate and understands the similarities and differences in first and second language acquisition, a second language can be learned and taught in the classroom. However, students that strictly speak the second language in the classroom often do not gain the same degree of fluency as those that are immersed in the language or often use it outside of the classroom. Additionally, teachers cannot rewind to early childhood while the brain is developing or before speech and grammar patterns have solidified in the mind in order to make learning easier and more natural. Despite this, although one cannot replicate or fully apply the fundamentals of first language acquisition to a second language, a teacher can strive to create a natural, realistic environment in the classroom that encourages students to communicate in the second language frequently and fosters growth and confidence in their students. (Unit 3, 2) Ipek, Hulya. "Comparing and Contrasting First and Second Language Acquisition: Implications for Language Teachers." English Language Teaching, vol. 2, no. 2, June 2009, pp. 155-60, files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1082388.pdf. Accessed 26 July 2019. "Unit 3: Theories, Methods and Techniques." International TEFL and TESOL Training, ittt, 2011. Accessed 26 July 2019.