The Idea of an Essay, Volume 4

Research Writing 107 An Overview of Second Language Acquisition Adam Rinehart, J.D. Lewis, Sara Passamonte, and Matthew Beal Summary What are the traits of successful second language acquisition, and what causes difficulty in acquiring a second language? These are questions that students at Cedarville University explore in LING 3080 (Linguistics for Language Learning). In LING 3080, students determine how much of a language can be acquired within a semester through trial and error. During this process, students track their progress and determine the factors that lead to the success or failure of acquiring a second language. Working in groups of two or more, students are given a high degree of freedom regarding the methods they use and are free to choose the language they wish to study. Additionally, they aim to become as fluent as possible in that language during the semester (approximately four months). There are several stated reasons for desiring to acquire a second language. The writer of essay 15 mentions studying Arabic out of an interest in Middle Eastern countries with a highlighted need for missions work. Some drew their enthusiasm from a previous experience with second language acquisition. The author of essay 9 writes, “From seventh to twelfth grade I had learned Spanish and thought it fairly easy to learn (Essay 9, pg. 2).” Most writers, however, base a majority of their decisions on a keen interest in the culture associated with their chosen language. The writer of essay 10 tells of having an interest in Russia’s history and architecture, while the author of essay 14 wishes to use American Sign Language to effectively communicate with people afflicted by hearing impairments. Some common threads exist among the writers of these essays. First, all the writers have previous experiences with learning new