After a few years of teaching ESL in higher education, I started to ask myself about how I could make my teaching and the learning environment more productive based on the learning differences and individual particularities of different language learners that I had observed during my classes: that language learners possess a wealth of personal experiences that they bring to the language classes; that they filter all information through their personal experiences; that there are differences in the abilities of learners to learn a second language; that all language learners can become proficient in a foreign language, given enough opportunity, time, exposure, and adequate teaching. Bearing this in mind, in an attempt to find methods to improve SLA I decided to investigate some of the factors that I believed affected and influenced language students, and eventually (following the difficult path of analyzing and considering a multitude of factors that I identified as interfering with and influencing language teaching and learning) decided upon the following: age, bilingualism, identity and emotions.
Consequently, I set up to examine existing research in the field of SLA and to plan and organize a research strategy that would help me investigate the influence of age, bilingualism, identity and emotions, find out how these factors can be used to the benefit of the language learner, make some pertinent suggestions on how to improve higher education second language learning and teaching and draft some considerations for further language learning and teaching practice. The conclusions are that second language acquisition is influenced by the language learners’ age, cultural identity, emotions, and by their being bilingual/plurilingual. All these factors, along with some others, appear to shape and affect the acquisition of English in a multiplicity of ways. From the findings and results of studies conducted during the realization of this volume, some considerations for practice emerged in connection with the findings of the research studies.
Anca Maria Slev