Various factors affect the acquisition of a second language. Some of such aspects encompass age and reading motivation whose relationship with second language acquisition has been explored by numerous studies (Ellis, 2015). A wide pool of research has laid much emphasis on the learners aged between two and twelve years, resulting in the insufficient literature on the acquisition of a second language by adults. Age and reading motivation have a significant influence on the process of second language learning.
For a second-language learner to learn fast, an all-round mastery of the language, including reading, speaking, and writing is essential. Research shows that there is a significant relationship between the reading and the learning of a second language (Horiba & Fukaya, 2015).
People with a high interest in reading second language texts learn it faster and more effectively as compared to those whose motivation is low. Reading helps the learner to establish many connecting inferences and recall the content of the second language better (Yamashita, 2013).
Therefore, when a learner is motivated to read, the likelihood of becoming competent in the acquisition of second language increases. It is vital for a second language learner to have reading motivation for him or her to develop an inner drive and positive attitude towards understanding the texts. The motivation can be developed through reading for pleasure or using comprehension supporting strategies (Ahmadi & Ismail, 2013).
A second language learner who is motivated to read texts of the new language as a vital factor in their routine activities copes up with reading process issues hence has high chances of becoming successful in its acquisition. Reading motivation is considered one of the most important factors for successful second language acquisition since it helps learners to develop rapidly the capability of reading and comprehension of texts related to the new language purposefully, resulting in increased interest.
Although there has been a series of studies aimed at finding out if an individual’s age at the time of learning a second language influences the ultimate proficiency, researchers have not succeeded in the identification of a uniform conclusion about the relationship between the two. However, the majority of literature indicates that the effectiveness of learning a second language reduces as people grow older, especially from adolescence stage to late adulthood.
The Critical Period Theory and Fundamental Difference Theory are some of the major theories that support the relationship (Deng & Zou, 2016). According to the Critical Period Theory, which was first proposed in 1967 by Lenneberg, individuals are more likely to acquire a second language easily and effectively in their early ages between two and twelve years, after which the predisposition starts reducing.
The Critical Period Theory argues that the brain of a person during puberty and adulthood normally loses plasticity and has a completely developed language function lateralization. Since the acquisition of a second language is a natural process influenced by humans’ biological factors, it becomes difficult for a person who is past puberty stage to acquire a second language (DeKeyser, 2013). According to Bley-Vroman’s Fundamental Difference Theory, there is a significant difference between how children learn a language and the way adults do. A child can learn a language implicitly, but an adult has to do it explicitly (Dong & Ren, 2013).
While learning a second language, adults usually broaden the language categories that they have already established from their primary languages, but children tend to create new classifications for the second language features. In adults, the acquisition of a second language is similar to acquiring any other skills. In conclusion, the literature used in this paper shows that age and reading motivation factors have a significant influence on second language acquisition. The acquisition of a second language in adults and adolescents is more difficult as compared to children.
Ahmadi, M. R., & Ismail, N. I. (2013). The relationship between students’ reading motivation and reading comprehension. Journal of Education and Practice, 4(18), 8-17.
DeKeyser, R. M. (2013). Age effects in second language learning: Stepping stones toward better understanding. Language Learning, 63(1), 52-67.
Deng, F., & Zou, Q. (2016). A study on whether the adults’ second language acquisition is easy or not-from the perspective of children’s native language acquisition. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 6(4), 776-778.
Dong, G., & Ren, H. (2013). The role of age in second language acquisition: A psychological perspective. British Journal of English Linguistics, 1(1), 1-6.
Ellis, R. (2015). Understanding Second Language Acquisition (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Horiba, Y., & Fukaya, K. (2015). Reading and learning from L2 text: Effects of reading goal, topic familiarity, and language proficiency. Reading in a Foreign Language, 27(1), 22-25.
Yamashita, J. (2013). Effects of extensive reading on reading attitudes in a foreign language. Reading in a Foreign Language, 25(2), 248-250.