The Effects Of Age And Motivation English Language Essay

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Second language acquisition is concerned with the study of the way in which an individual becomes able to use one or more language different from his first language. This process can take place in a natural setting or through formal classroom instruction, and although the degree of proficiency that can be attained is a controversial topic, it can start at child hood or during the adult age (krashen, 1982).

Although the age is an important factor to learn a second language but isn¢t the most important one. There are some another factors like motivation anxiety, and the other affective factors, but in this research we are concerned about the age and motivation factors.

In this research we are looking for finding relation ship bet ween age and second language acquisition and to answer this question is more successful in childhood or adulscence? And also to answer this question that how motivation can influences an the second language acquisition.There are many elements in learning a second language that we constrast them between children and adults.

According to our research adults are more successful in some aspects of second language acquisition that children, but children have more native-like accent and of course are successful in some another aspects. Additionally there are some differences between older children and younger ones to learn a second language too.

Also, we talked about that children and adults have different motivation to learn a second language because, their goal of learning a second language differs with each other.

Age and motivation

critical period



Language learning has always become an important work-field both in schools and

other private sectors dealing with language teaching and learning process. Second

language learning is a process which is affected by many factors. It is accompanied by

different kinds of factors including the learner's environment both in and out of school. In

this article the age and motivation factors in the second language learning process will be

analyzed, discussed and some perspectives will be put forward.

Collier (1988), expresses that successful language aquistion depends on the learner¢s age. Obviously there is a manifest difference between children and adults in second language aquistion but we don¢t know which of them is the best learner.

To find the answer of this question that what relation ship there are between age and motivation and learning a second language, we want to compare children and adults¢s learning in some ways according to some aspects of language.

What is critical period1?

Second languages have hed to the development of the critical period hypo thesis which states that there is "a biologically determind period of life when language can aqcuired more easily and beyond which time language is increasingly difficult to acquired."

Interestingly to investigate in relation sheep between age and second language acquisition one of the major areas in which many research have been done is critical period. There is a hypothesis that says language can be acquired only within a critical period, extending from early infancy until puberty, in it¢s basic from, the critical period hypothesis says that children are better second language learners than adults and should consequently reach higher levels of final proficiency in the second language (lennebery, 1967).

A learner's age is one of the important factors affecting the process of second

language acquisition. Collier (1988), expresses that successful language acquisition

depends on the learner's age. In one of the earliest studies on second language acquisition

Lenneberg (1967), claims that there is a certain period in acquisition of a second

language. In this period, which is identified critical period hypothesis in language

acquisition, Lenneberg theorizes that the acquisition of language is an innate process

determined by biological factors which limit the critical period for acquisition of a

language from roughly two years of age to puberty. Lenneberg believes that after

lateralization, which is a process by which the two sides of the brain develop specialized

functions, the brain loses plasticity and lateralization of the language function is normally

completed by puberty, making post-adolescent language acquisition difficult.

After Lenneberg, in some other studies examining subjects' pronunciation after

over five years of exposure to the second language, it was found that the large majority of


Lenneberg believes that after lateralization, which is a process by which the two sides of the brain develop specialized functions, the brain loses plasticity and lateralization of the language function is normally completed by puberty, making post-adolescent language acquisition difficult. Fathman (1975), found that in the first year of study, 11-to 15-years old were significantly better at aquiring English as a second language than 6-to 10 years old in pronunciation, morphology, and syntax.

Pronunciation Age and motivation


The critical period hypothesis holds that first language acquisition must occur before cerebral lateralization is complete, at about the age of puberty. One prediction of this hypothesis is that second language acquisition will be relatively least, successful, and qualitatively similar to first language only if it occurs before the age of puberty. This prediction was tested by studying longitiudinally the naturalistic acquisition of dutch by English speakers of different ages.

In the test which we talked about the main points to be tested was the effects of age on morphology, pronunciation, auditory discrimination, sentence repetition, sentence translation, sentence judgement, vocabulary test, story comprehension, and story telling. The results showed significant differences between the levels of achievement of the beginners and the advanced groups existed only on auditory discrimination, sentence repetition and sentence translation, could be expected for the adults often 1 year¢s exposure to the second language but that acquisition of dutch by the 6-15 years old was essentially completed within 1 year. In addition a few studies have shown that oldes children are faster than younger one in acquiring second language (Ervin Trip 1974; fathman 1975; Ekstrad, note 1).

The conclusion was this: the 8-10 and 12-15 years old had achieved the best control of Dutch and the 3-5 years old scored lowest on all the tests employed. Some results of this research shown in table 1 in the table section.

There are many elements which we want to compare children and adults learning to find relation sheep between age and second language acquisition: pronunciation, perception to speech in noise, duration of sentence, classroom practices, and affective factores.


Another way in which we can search in relation ship between age and language acquisition is pronunciation. Some researches have been done to find if the age has any important effect on the language acquisition.

A closer look at the long-term studies reviewed by larson-freeman and long reveals that most were concerned with naturalistic acquisition and dealt with one aspect of language ability only, notably phonology. This has led spolsky to one of his 74 conditions for second language learning: "The younger one starts to learn a second language, the better chance one has to develop a native-like pronunciation." (1989, p.96). Look at figure 1.

adults retain their accent when the second language is acquired after puberty, whereas

children initiating second language acquisition before puberty have little or no foreign

accent. In two different studies on assessing students' acquisition of pronunciation after

three years of exposure to the second language, Fathman (1975) and Williams (1979),

found that younger students had retained more accent-free pronunciation when compared

to adolescents just past puberty.

While critical period studies usually focused on child-adult differences and

suggested that younger learners should be superior learners, studies of oral language skill

acquisition by children of different ages have led to the conclusion that older children

acquire faster than younger children (Collier, 1988). In a study made by Ervin-Tripp

(1974), it was found that after nine months of instruction in French, 7- to-9-year-olds

performed better than 4- to 6-year-olds did in comprehension, imitation, and


Fathman (1975), found that in the first year of study, 11- to 15-year-olds were

significantly better at acquiring English as a second language than 6- to 10-year-olds in

Perception of speech in noise Age and motivation


pronunciation, morphology, and syntax.

As to academic purposes, students need to acquire as complete to a range of skills

in the second language as possible. In school language becomes abstract and focus of

every content area task, with all meaning and all demonstration of knowledge expressed

through oral and written forms of language as students move from one grade level to the

next. Some researchers made comparisons on the performance of students of different

ages on language tasks associated with school skills, including reading and writing. Some

researches have been conducted by comparing the performance of students of different

ages on language tasks associated with language skills, including reading and writing, In

some of these studies, both short-term and long term, it was found that students between

the ages of 8 and 12 are faster in early acquisition of second language skills, and over

several years' time they maintain this advantage over younger students at the age of 4 to 7

years (Collier, 1988).

From these studies, it can be asserted that older students between the ages of 8 to

12 are faster, more efficient acquirers of school language than younger students between

the ages of 4 to 7. In many of the studies, young children beginning the study of a second

language between the ages of 4 and 7 take much longer to master skills needed for

academic purposes than older children do. The reason why students acquire the language

skills better is that children who enter school at the age of 5 or 6 have not completed

acquisition of their first language, which continues through at least age 12. From ages 6


Perception of speech in noise

Another points in relation sheep between age and second language acquisition is perception of speech in noise. To determine how age of acquisition influences perception of second language speech, the speech perception in noise (SPLN)2 test was administered to native mexcian-spanish listeners who learned fluent English before age 6 (early bilinguals) or after age 14 (late bilinguals) and mono linguals American English speakers (monolinguals).

Results show that the level of noise at which the speech was intelligible were significantly higher and the benefit from countent was signigicantly greater for monolinguals and early bilinguals than for late bilinguals. These findings indicate that learning a second language at an early age is important for the acquisition of efficient high-level processing of it, at least in the presence of noise.

Duration of sentences

There is also another way in which some researches have been done related to age and it¢s effects on the duration of sentences produced in a second language.

The aim of the current study was to determine wether a linear relation ship existed between age of arrival (AOA)3 and L2 processing rate. Given the close relation ship of speech rate to other measure of processing rate (faverau & segalowitz, 1982, 1984). L2 processing rate was indexed here by the duration of reported L2 sentences under controled conditions. A correlation between AOA and sentence duration could indicated that the more established the L2 is at the time of first exposure to an L2, the more it inferences with L2 production and the greater the processing resources required to suppress it.

Duration of sentences Age and motivation


A number of previous studies have examined the duration of sentences spoken in an L2. Munro and Derwing (1995) had 70 adult mandarion learners of English who had lived in Canada for 4 years on average read 40 English sentences. The Mandarian subjects sentences were significantly longer than those of the native English subjects (2, 290 vs. 1, 770 ms-a 29% differences).

The first task of this study was to determine wether sentence duration differences between native and nonnative subjects are relation and whether a linear relation ship between sentence duration and AOA exists.(Table2)

The subjects were given a list of 344 English sentences to study. They heard these sentences over headphone in blockes of 40 native Dutch speakers producted sentences that were significantly longer than the native English subjects. Speech rate, defined as the number of syllables spoken per unit of time in a non speech task (with or without pauses. In addition, speech rate was found to be correlated with "fluency" rating (pennington, 1992) and also with global accentedness rating (Munro, 1999).

Taken together, the studies reviewed here suggest that non native speakers are apt to produced longer utterances in an L2 than are native speakers. In addition, the studies indicate that speech rate increases as proficiency in the L2 increases.(Table3)

The linear relation ship between AOA and L2 production proficiency can be analyzed as an effect of L1 and L2 interaction (flege, 1995). One hypothesis states that the more established the L1 is at the time of L2 acquisition, the greater the influence it will have on the L2.

This is because, as L1 phonetic catogories are established and elaborated through child hood and in to adolescence, they become more likely to assimilate L2 vowels and consonant.

As a results previous research has suggested that an L2 is produces more slowly than is the native language. However no previous study has examined the relation between the age at which L2 learning commences and duration of fluently produced English sentences.(Figure2)

Classroom practices

Certain language teaching methods maybe inappropriate for older adults for example, some methods rely primarily on good auditory discrimination for learning. Since hearing often declines with age, this type of the technique puts the older learner at a disadvantage.

Exercises such as oral drills and memorization, which rely on short-term memory, also discrimination against the adult learner. The adult learners best not by rote, but by integrating new concepts and material in to already existing cognitive structures. Speech is also a factor that works against the older student, so fast-paced drills and competitive exercises and activities may not be successful with the older learner.

Children have a good short-term memory, and, so they don¢t have which problem we talked about adults, and are better learner in spite of classroom practices.

Affective factores; motivation

Obviously, age is not the only factor which has influence on the second language acquisition, there are some another factors like affective factors that we want to integrate them with age, and observe it¢s results. Surely the results of affective factors are different in children and adults.

Affective factores; motivation Age and motivation


Affective factors such as motivation and self-confidence are very important in language learning. Many older learners fear failure more than their younger counterparts, maybe because they accept the stereo type of the older person as a poor language learner or because previouse unsuccessful attemps to learn a foreign language.

Adults studying a foreign language are usually learning it for a specific purpose: to be more effective professionally to be able to survive in an anticipated foreign situation, or for other instrumental reason.

Motivation is one of the important aspects of second language acquisition.

Motivation is a kind of desire for learning. It is very difficult to teach a second language

in a learning environment if the learner does not have a desire to learn a language. Taken

into consideration from that aspect, to be able to make the learner active and desirable in

learning process gains importance.

In the 1990s, researchers in the field of applied linguistics called for an expansion

of the motivational construct in second language learning (Skehan 1991; Oxford

&Shearing, 1994; Dörnyei, 1994). Preliminary evidence has emerged in recent research,

which not only demonstrates the relevance of the new motivational constructs (such as

goal-setting, causal attributions and so on) in language learning, but also shows that

incorporation of such new elements into the existing theoretical models is likely to result

in more elaborate models of language learning motivation (Tremblay & Gardner 1995).

Reece & Walker (1997), express that motivation is a key factor in the second

language learning process. They stress that a less able student who is highly motivated

can achieve greater success than the more intelligent student who is not well motivated.

Sometimes students may come highly motivated and the task of the teacher is to maintain

motivation of the students. The task of the teacher is to maximize the motivation.

Shulman (1986), expresses that students' learning is facilitated most effectively when

students are motivated, and that motivation can be enhanced through the creation of a

positive affective climate. Crookes & Schmidt (1991), defines the motivation in terms of

choice, engagement and persistence, as determined by interest, relevance, expectancy and


Motivation depends on the social interaction between the teacher and the learner.

To be able to create an effective learning environment having highly motivated students

necessitates strong interpersonal and social interaction. According to Cooper & McIntyre

(1998), if it is accepted that learning is claimed to be dependent on certain types of

interpersonal and social interaction, it follows that circumstances that make these forms

of interaction desirable or at least congenial become a necessary prerequisite of effective


learning. It can also be said that the appropriate forms of interaction help the learner solve

his or her problems in the learning process.

The importance of the teacher factor in having a high level of motivation in second

language acquisition cannot be neglected. The success of a teacher in second language

acquisition in school affects directly the success of learners. Cooper & McIntyre (1998)

underline the importance of the teacher factor in students' achievement. They add that the

more successful the teacher is in focusing and facilitating effective pupil calibration, the

more effective the teacher will be in facilitating effective pupil learning.

Affective factores; motivation Age and motivation


The choice of teaching strategy on motivation is emphasized by Reece & Walker

(1997). The choice of teaching strategy has an effect upon the motivation and interest of

the student. The manner in which the teacher approaches the teaching strategy will have

an effect upon motivation: an enthusiastic approach is more likely to motivate than a dull


Kristmanson (2000), offers that an effective learning environment can be achieved by:

- Encouraging and supporting students at all times but especially when they are struggling

or lacking confidence in certain areas.

- Being energetic and enthusiastic about what you are teaching and on those days when you

do not have that energy, provide activities that require the learners to put forth the

majority of the energy.

- Creating an atmosphere in which students are not afraid to make mistakes and are

encouraged to take risks.

- Avoiding tension-causing strategies such as surprise quizzes, overly competitive

activities, putting students in front of their peers with no warning or chance for

preparation, and correcting errors in a negative, accusatory fashion.

- Allowing students opportunities to talk about themselves, their interests, and their culture.

- Providing opportunities for interaction in the target language in and outside the language

learning environment through preplanned and spontaneous activities,

- Encouraging goal setting and a sense of dedication and continuous commitment to the

language learning task through meaningful, relevant and authentic language learning


- Encouraging learners to seek out opportunities in their lives that will help in the learning

of the target language.

- Creating, through the presentation of attainable goals and reasonable challenges, a

learning environment with a definite potential for success.

- Recognizing the "little successes", improvements and progress of all students both

individually and with the entire group.

Attitudes can also play a significant role in the language-learning classroom. They

have a close relationship with motivation. Krashen (1985), proposes that attitudes can act

as barriers or bridges to learning a new language and are the essential environmental



There have been several researches on learners' motivation in second language

learning. In a laboratory study performed by Gardner, Lalonde and Moorcroft (1985) a

French/English paired associates learning paradigm was used, and it was demonstrated

that learning was faster for subjects classified as having relatively high levels of

integrative motivation than for those with low levels. Subsequent studies have employed

the same paradigm but have administered all material by computer. In one such study,

Gardner and MacIntyre (1991), investigated the effects of integrative and instrumental

motivation on the learning of French/English vocabulary, and found that both

Conclusion Age and motivation


interactively- and instrumentally-motivated subjects learned the vocabulary faster than

subjects not so motivated.

In spite of all we find in the other¢s researches which are in different topics related to relation sheep between age and motivation and second language acquisition, there is a manifest thing which says surely there is an important effect of age on the second language learning.

Of course there are a lot of factors which have influences on the second language acquisition both in children or adults, but, isn¢t not deniable that in a natural way children are the better learner in overall learning, but adults also, can be good learners in spite of using their first knowledge of the language to communicate with the higher-order aspects of the second language.

Another point we should focus on is that the older children are the better learners than younger ones, but it¢s not still documented thing to firmly say which one is the best learner of second language; adults, older children, or younger children.

So, the last but not the least thing we shoud say is emphasizing that, the success in second language acquisition depends on many factors. age and motivation factors are among themost important ones. In studies, it has been found that if a learner has a competency in his or herown language, he or she is more advantageous than those who have not completed his first language. as to motivation, it has been found that motivated students are more successful in second language acquisition second language acquisition than those who are not motivated.

References Age and motivation



Schleppegrell, Marry. (ERIC clear house on language and linguistics). Whashington DC: 1987-09-00. Age and language learning.

CUHK journal of primary Educational Tool. 4 No. 2, pp. 49-54, (July, 1994). Age and language acquisition.

F.O. Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi. 2001, 11 (2). The effects of age and motivation factors on second Language.

Collier, V.P. (1988). The National clearing house for Bilingual Educational, No: 2, winter: 1987-1988.

Johnson S. New port EL. Journal of speech, language, and Hearing Research vol. 40686-693 June 1997. Critical period Effects in second Language Learning.

Susan G. Gulon; James E. Fleg and serena H. Liu; Grace H. Yeni-komshian. Printed in the United States of America: Applied psycloinguistics 21, 2000, pp. 205-228. Age of learning Effects on the Duration of Sentences produced in a Second Language.

Ellen Bialystok, PHD. Published online febrauray 9. 2006, Revised October 15, 2008. Second-language Acquisition and Bilingualism at an Early Age and the Impact on Early Congnitive Development.

Catherin E. Snow and Marian Hoefnagel-Hohle. Blackwell publishing on behalf of society for Research in child Development: Dec, 1978. The critical period for language Aequisition, vol 49, No. 4, pp. 1114-1128.

Appendix Age and motivation