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Write an essay on Second Language Acquisition?

There has been a rising interest in the relationship among motivation towards second language acquisition (SLA). Interest in individual differences has grown since the 1970s to the point where it has become a major area of enquiry in SLA (Ellis, 2004). Traditional motivation research has focused on trait levels of motivation and has discussed the relationships between ID variables and language achievement; most of these studied have found that trait motivation had a direct effect on achievement (e.g., Gardner et al., 1997; Masgoret and Gardner, 2003; Tremblay and Gardner, 1995, cited by Koga, 2010). Language teachers use the same material and language to instruct; however, the academic performance of each learner is totally not the same since each learner has individual difference. For second language learners to make maximum progress with their own learning styles, their individual differences must be recognized and attended to (Zhang, 2006). Personality, cognitive and affective play the essential roles in motivation. In the case of second language acquisition, learners vary not only in the speed of acquisition but also in their ultimate level of achievement, with a few achieving native-like competence and others stopping far short (Ellis, 2004).
Personality is an important factor that influence deeply the learning of L2. Scholars and experts have used different methods and designed questionnaires to study how important that personality affects L2 learning. The results clearly indicate that different personalities affect the L2 learning result. This can be concluded partly why some L2 learners can achieve the success in L2, even close to native speakers and others cannot.
The other factor is cognitive. Benson and Lor (1999) deï¬Âne “conceptions” as “concernedwith what the learner thinks the objects and processes of learning are,” whereas “beliefs” are “what the learner holds to be true about these objects and processes” ( Ellis, 2004). Human beings are born with a cognitive learning capability that is genetically transmitted (Escribano, 2004)
The motivation research has been heavily influenced by Gardner’s socio-educational model of second language acquisition ( Gardner 1985; Gardner and Lambert 1972, cited by Kyriacou and Zhu, 2008) and in particular, his distinction between pupils’ holding an intergrative orientation and holding an instrumental orientation (Kyriacou and Zhu, 2008). There are three dimensions of motivation (e.g., Belmechri and Hummel 1998; Chambers 1999; Kyriacou and Kobori 1998). Intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and integrative motivation show that different goal of learning second language. It is noticeable that some learners have been changing their dimensions of motivation during their L2 learning process.
In Ellis (2004) opinion, in the earlier era the primary concern was to provide a basis for selecting which learners should be chosen to receive foreign language instruction.However, to this end, the main purpose of individual difference research was to predict which learners would succeed. I think this is an interesting claim and it gives us insight into SLA research.
In this paper, I would like to use motivation theory and the analysis of personality and cognitive to reflect the SLA process and the results of my students. Also, I will take the scholars’ questionnaire’s result to compare with my students and to examine whether they respond my students’ results.
This essay is divided into four sections. I would like to briefly discuss my former working context in the first section. As for the second section, personality and cognitive will be analyzed and collocate with my students’ learning process. Also, the syllabus and curriculum are going to be discuss in this section. Because of the design of them, my students have different achievement. The following section is three dimensions of motivation (e.g., Belmechri and Hummel 1998; Chambers 1999; Kyriacou and Kobori 1998). I think most of my students have the same motivation; however, a few of them are different. It is interesting to observe some of my students’ motivation have been changing during the learning process. My teaching strategies would be briefly discussed here for that they are related to the achievement of my students. The last section are the implications towards SLA and conclusion.

Teaching English as a Second Language

The context in this essay is where Iam from, New Taipei City, Taiwan. After I graduated from the university, I have been teaching English for the past one year. I worked in a Foreign Language Center which is called English Generation Language Institute. The subject I taught is Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). It is divided into four parts, listening, speaking, reading and writing. The average number of students in my class is fifteen. They are university students and people who have already graduated from the university. The reason why they need to learn this subject is because they must to have the test of it before they graduate from the university and need to present the score of it when applying for jobs.

Teaching English is an important task which produces a number of rewards. The teachers may feel proud as they are teaching the students or learners a different way of life. When you are teaching English, you are contributing towards the international community by fabricating a new speaker of the English language, a person who can converse with people worldwide and across the cultures. The learners of the English language maybe the business people, immigrants, artists or students, who share their love of learning the language. Teaching English to students as the second language is that we are sharing the tools to students, which they need to take on new ventures and reach their dreams (Cohen, 2014).

When the speaker from a foreign country or non-native English speaker learns English, they can create a deal of potential inspiration and success in life of a person. To create a positive space of English learning, one should have a positive attitude, courage and dedication. Without the attitude factor, one may get frustrated for the long time to learn the language and may be they give up the effort to learn English (Moskovsky, 2013).

There is researches to examine the relationship between three selected factors, i.e. foreign language motivation, foreign language anxiety and foreign language learning strategies. To research the educational phenomena, the various methods used by the researchers. Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh and Sorensen (2010) explained the qualitative research methods as examining the setting in connection with context not attempting to predict the future by producing a rich account of the events. Quantitative research methods, attempting to predict the future by determining dependant factors associated with the phenomenon under examination by testing the relationships. After analysis, the conclusion would be formed by the deductive reasoning and would be dictated by statistical analysis of the results (Ary et al. 2010).

Research Methods for Second Language Acquisition

This study also examines the relationships between various factors as foreign language motivation, foreign language learning strategies and foreign language anxiety learning the second language. These factors try to predict the factor which collectively or individually influenced the achievements to learn the foreign language. The three basic instruments that have been used in the present study is extensively tested, developed and implemented in various situations of language learning program. These instruments are found to be highly reliable and fit for the purpose. So, quantitative research methodology deploying established the survey instruments used for this study appropriately (Dahmardeh and Hunt, 2012).

The studies of motivation in learning a second language requires the additional methods to enhance the usual methods of data gathering and analysis. Statistical and quantitative methods are typical, where individual differences usually explored and identified on the basis of the responses of that individual on the questions asked. Responses gathered from the individual are subjected to several types of correlation analysis and the factor analysis. The research on second language acquisition motivation usually followed the other branches of the educational psychology in the ascendancy of the cognitive dimension (Hinkel, 2011).

Since personality and cognitive are related to each other, so in this paper I would like to discuss them together. Intuitively, personality is a key factor for explaining individual differences in L2 learning (Ellis, 2004) as well as cognitive. Learners have different level of success in L2, one of the essential reason is their personality. Studies have shown that extraverts (or unreserved and outgoing people) acquire a second language better than introverts (or shy people).Benson and Lor (1999) deï¬Âne “conceptions” as “concerned with what the learner thinks the objects and processes of learning are,” whereas “beliefs” are “what the learner holds to be true about these objects and processes” (Ellis, 2004). 

There are several misconceptions about how personality traits are relared to language learning. Many people falsely believe that introvert section of the society have congnitive ability that helps them in understanding a new language. At the same time, few section of the socrity feel that extroverts are better at human communication in general, so this helps them to speak new languages better. In order to learn a English language, it takes determination and a variety of practice techniques – and introverts and extroverts together can become fluent speakers of any language they work hard at,regardless of personality type. However, both introverts and extroverts have different ways of learning new languages, even if both the personality types mentioned have the same result. While conversing with a introvert person, they have the tendency of listening to other people and are more comfortable weighing the exact meaning of the words before they start talking to other people. Wheras, many people learn grammar and syntax rukes through textbook learning and some introverts can absorb grammar rules by simply paying heed to what one says. While, on the other hand an extrovert concentrates more social experiences that is energizing and motivational. Introverts on the other hand have large passive vocabulary,meaning that they can understand the words more quickly when in a written format than while communicated with others. Since extroverts have more speaking capability therefore, they rely more on actual experiences. Whereas introverts use more hypothetical situations when talking with others. Learning a second language is a highly personal experience and people simply learn best in variety of ways. Although there are slight differences in their way of learning yet they may prefer different language practice techniques but ultimately there is no evidence that one set of technique is more than another set.    

Factors Affecting Second Language Acquisition

Due to some social factors, second language acquisition becomes difficult for people. The highly studied factor in regard of language development is the issue of the difference between extroverts and introverts. By various researches, it is shown that extrovert or outgoing people can acquire the second or foreign language better than that of an introvert or shy people. Many researches showed that in learning the second language, extroverts try to communicate with the others, even though not sure that they will succeed to speak. With introversion, a person cannot be succeeded in studying the second language, and has the negative effect over the second language acquisition. Extroversion is one kind of social skill that is involved in the acquisition of the second language (Hosoda 2013). Wesche (1977) found that there is a correlation between the proficiency in role-playing, listening comprehension and speaking skills. Role-playing means the student has willingness to participate in a role-playing situation. It reflects the satisfaction, extroversion, and/or self-confidence with learning situation, with the level of general anxiety. Many students avoid any interaction with the native speakers as they are not comfortable to speak their language. On contrary, some people will grab the opportunity to talk with the native speaking people because they can speak the other language. People, who avoid the interaction with the native speakers are typically reserved, quiet, or introvert people. Therefore, if the teachers correct any mistakes of introvert students, then those students feel embarrassed and shy. This situation may isolate the learners or students in their classes (Beauvois and Eledge, 2013).

Language is central in our lives. In our society, this is the case not only of our mother tongue, but also of other second languages required to communicate within the international society in different contecxts. Knowing a language involves more than knowing what form it takes and what are the involvements and how it functions too. According to Widdowson, in context of adults, what is different about learning a linguistic language is abstract and requires the potential of explaining language itself. Language may be considered from different complimentary points and the ability to acquire it and to use it in concrete situations. Both the aspects should be considered by the teachers of  L2 while teaching the learners different approach of understanding second language. The ability to learn languages is the cognitive specialization of our species thus, language is considered to be an essential human feature. Language is the only way that distinct other people from animals.This explains why explain why children are capable of learning complex grammar rules in contrast with how parrots pick up isolated sentences. Human beings are higher in nature than animals. Linguistic communication is the strongest way of communication and that is possible because we are capable of assigning semantic representations to verbal expressions which imply mental representation of words. Thus, it is through words we are capable of acquiring semantic representations to verbal expressions. Language and communication build the gap between heart and blood. Language is the creation of human congnition and instrument in its services. Therefore, essential nature of humans to learn language is reciprocal.

Implications for Second Language Acquisition

Based on Kyriacou and Zhu’s (2008) research, they designed a questionnaire which includes five sections. There are three items in each section. All sections are on a five-point Likert response scale ranging from “dislike very much” to “like very much” (scored 1 to 5 respectively) (Kyriacou and Zhu’s, 2008). The participants are high school students in China. The result indicates that the item which has the highest score is “It will help me in my future career development”. The item “Learning English is fun” has very low score. From the finding, we can find that Chinese L2 learners’ motivation is because of instrumental reason such as future careers and exams.

A principal component analysis of these 15 items identified three factors that were then subjected to varimax rotation with an orthogonal solution (Kyriacou and Zhu’s, 2008). The first factor is life/career aspect, accounting for 24.5% of the total variance. The second factor is integrative orientation, accounting for 18.1% of the total variance. The last one is external pressure, accounting for 10.2%of the total variance. Actually, their reasons for English learning are same as my student. They are dominated by instrumental or extrinsic motivation.

Mainly, self-esteem is the frequent feature of the human activities. The cognitive or affective activity cannot be performed without any quantity of self-confidence, self-esteem, believe in own capabilities and knowledge about that activity. Some researchers stated that all the human beings have a need for the phatic communion, finding acceptance and defining oneself in expressing that self in relation to valued others. To describe self-esteem, Coopersmith stated that self-esteem would be a personal opinion of worth, which is articulated in the approaches that individuals embraces for themselves. Person obtain self-esteem from the gathering of experiences from others,from the external world around them and themselves also (Dixon et al. 2012).

The self-esteem of oneself has been discussed for capturing its multi-dimensionality:

Global or general self-esteem must be stable in mature adult and is opposed to the alter except by vigorous and comprehensive therapy.The general evaluation can be made of one's own worth over the time and did not depend on any situation. The situational or specific self-esteem means in a particular life situations one’s self-appraisals. The quantity of specific self-esteem could be varied on situations depending on the attribute in question. The task of self-esteem describes to specific tasks within one particular situation.For example, the self-evaluation of one in particular aspect of second language acquisition process like speaking, writing, a particular class in a second language (Bitchener and Ferris, 2012).


Anxiety is a major characteristic of personality that influenced the learning of the second or foreign language. Brown described that anxiety is the emotional state that associated with the thoughts of worry, frustration, uneasiness and self-doubt. MacIntyre and Gardner distinguished the anxiety in two types. They are trait anxiety, which is a general tendency to be anxious and the state anxiety, i.e. one may experience in a specific situation. In addition, they explain that there are three mechanisms of anxiety in learning a second language, which are communication uneasiness, fear for pessimistic social evaluation and test anxiety (MacIntyre and Gardner, 1989).

Some researches stated and examined the motive of the state anxiety in any classroom. Bailey opined that the relationship of the students with a teacher, students’ competition among themselves and tests might increase the anxiety. Skehan found that anxiety can be a consequence of low achievement. Average and poor students are very rapidly meet the failure due to debilitating anxiety than the high-ability students. You can find different types of anxiety in every level of students. The more facilitating anxiety the learners have experienced, the learners become more proficient (Plonsky, 2011).

There are different reasons for learners to learn second language. In many countries, English is a compulsory subject and it is a requirement when entering university or graduate school. Moreover, it is also a condition of applying for work or getting the promotion. Some recent research in China indicates that while many pupils in China strive to do well in English, this is largely motivated by extrinsic reasons with little genuine interest in the subject (Ge 2006; Jiang 2003; Liu 2001; Qing 2002; Wang and Zhang 2005; Wen 2001, cited by Kyriacou and Zhu, 2008).

Gardner’s dichotomy of integrative and instrumental motivation, which is clearly related to the integrative and instrumental types of orientations (Orio, 2013). In Dornyei’s (1994:274) opinion, integrative motivation refers to the positive one of L2 learners because they would like to be part of the member of L2. On the other hand, instrumental motivation can be considered as the potential pragmatic gains of L2 proficiency, such as getting a better job or higher salary.

There are about fifteen students in my class. They can divided into two groups. One group instrumental motivation. The reasons why they signed up for TOEIC course are because they need to pass the English standard test in their university. When I was telling the strategies of how to solve the questions quicker, they were always paying lots of attention to it and taking note. However, when the speaking section was conducted, they become very quiet and did not want to speak out and improve their speaking ability. The other group is integrative motivation. They have already pass the standard score but they set higher goal and would like to get better grades. They always enjoyed the speaking section and were willing to share their ideas among the topics.

Learners, who possessed integrative motivation, use to learn a language other than his or her mother tongue in order to integrate with the orators of the native place. In contrast, the instrumental motivation means that one uses the language uses a tool or instrument that allows him or her to attain a goal for some reason (Salazar-Campillo, 2015).

The famous researcher is Robert Gardner in the field of motivation, who has been researching on the topic since 1970s. Gardner has developed socio-educational model made by him from time to time and has examined the motivation from the instrumental and integrative perspective. Integrative motivation embraces the wish to integrate one person into one target culture chosen by him by adapting the parts of it into one’s identity. For example, Taiwanese students always use their English name. Instrumental motivation described as desiring awards by which action can be taken. For example, increasing rate in job opportunities and meeting requirements to the graduates (Gardner, 2005).

Mao executed the research on motivation of a second language and its application in a reading class of senior division of the high school to recognize consequence of motivation on studying. He has collected data and concluded that the integrative and instrumental motivation together can influence on the improvement of the reading class. English teachers can take initiative to awaken students’ motivation by effective application in the reading class, and can assist the students to develop their integrative motivation in approaching the English learning (Mao, 2011).

Deci and Ryan (1985) used another division. They find two types of motivations: extrinsic and intrinsic. The former takes place when the learner does an activity because of the existence of external rewards or in order to avoid punishment. On the contrary, the latter has to do with the joy the learner experiences he/she is learning the language (Dornyei 1994:275, cited by Orio, 2013).

That is to say, one group of my students is extrinsic motivation. They were really afraid of that they could not graduate from the university successfully in case of they have had the TOEIC test for several times but failed to achieve the score. From the first class of speaking section, some students who have graduated from the university shared that they need to achieve the certain goal for applying for the position in foreign company.However, some of them have already pass the test, they still want to have higher grade. If the students achieve the certain score, the Official Test Institute will give the golden certificate and rewards.

The other group of my students is intrinsic motivation. They do not focus a lot on the strategies of solving question quickly. Instead, they like to ask some questions about syntax. In speaking section, when we were discussing the business negotiation, they would like to know more about the skills of negotiation, not only the dialogue practice in the textbook. They enjoyed learning English and hope to speak like native speaker. Every time, before the class, I needed to prepare a lot and during the class, I needed to be well-prepared for being asked lots of question.

The intrinsic motivation means the learning motivation, which comes from within. The extrinsic motivation means one is motivated to learn any other language as someone else can penalize or recompense for it. By intrinsic motivation, one will get long-term success, and extrinsic motivation gives a short-term gain (Salazar-Campillo, 2015).

There are many theories regarding motivation. One of them is Self-Determination Theory (SDT) proposed by Deci and Ryan. This theory speaks about the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Interesting, enjoyable or funny tasks are considered as intrinsic motivation. The tasks, which are not interesting, but done for useful purposes, considered as extrinsic motivation (Csizér et al. 2015).

Eccles and Wigfield proposed anothermotivational theory called Expectancy-Value theory. They recommended that the four components of motivation are the intrinsic value, the extrinsic utility value, the attainment value and the cost. The intrinsic value means happiness, what one enjoys at the time of completing the task. The extrinsic value is anticipated usefulness of a completed task relating to the goals of the future of the individual. The attainment value described as perception of individual about the importance of the task. Cost described as recognized negative consequences of completing a task, including financial, emotional and physical cost (Jafari, 2013).

The Self-Determination Theory and the Expectancy-Value Theory examined within a general surroundings of education. The socio-educational model always examined within a second language acquisition atmosphere. English still is not considered as the second language in Taiwan, but a foreign language. The development of socio-educational model specifically based on the context of acquisition of second/foreign language and not in a general setting as adopted for the development of the two theories (Jamil and Atta, 2012). Though English is not the second language of Taiwan, still the students of Taiwan have the opportunity to interact with English culture and language. Motivation is the socio-educational model and a complex phenomenon that offers a holistic approach. Thirdly, the AMTB used in some studies around the world that is found to be reliable, useful and relevant to identifying the components of learner motivation as well as the impact of motivation on learning outcomes (Gardner, 2001).

Some L2 learners keep the same dimension of motivation during their learning process. However, some of my students have changed it. The whole course of TOIE is three month. Students often take the test after they finish the course. A few of my students had the extrinsic motivation at the beginning of the course. They only wanted to learn the strategies. However, after they have passed the test, they came back and have the course again. They used a different aspect and attitude in the class. That time they had intrinsic motivation. They found the enjoyment in learning English since they

Many research indicates that personality and motivation dimension play the important factor on SLA. Learners will perform differently due to these factors. Since many studies have shown that extroverts or unreserved and outgoing people acquire a second language better than introverts or shy people, it seems also important for second language learners to develop personality (Suliman, 2014). I contend that developing the personality by learners’ own is not enough. In language teacher training section, the focus will not only put on teachers’ proficiency in English or the design of syllabus. The emphasis should be put more on the understanding of learners’ personalities and the motivation dimensions. Treating equally to every learner is important, but some learners need to be instructed in another way. That is to say, language teachers need to guide the shy and outgoing leaners; the learners who have the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in different ways. By doing so, each student can acquire the ‘equal’ instruction and their chance of achieving success to the SLA will be nearly the same. The other implication is that teachers need to be aware of what their learners’ beliefs are as this will enable to assess their readiness for autonomy. They also need to determine whether their beliefs are functional (i.e., being acted on) or dysfunctional (Ellis, 2004).

It is significant to discuss that the study of second language acquisition does not imply that there are no inferences, which can be drawn from second language acquisition to the related regulation of language teaching. For example, acquisition of second language resulted in speaking and not to its cause. The speech given by one cannot be trained directly, but appears on its own as the result of constructing competence by comprehensible input. If the input is unstated, the necessary grammar is provided by the teachers. The several models agree that it as a feature with important implications for the individual (Lepp-Kaethler and Dörnyei, 2013). Authors differ each other in terms of its correlates and/or antecedents, as well as in how it might be reviewed. With respect to the language learning, the individual would have several approaches that could be applied to the language learning, ideas about its meaningfulness, value, and the implications, expectations of one person about what one can or cannot be achieved, and the significance of several personality distinctiveness in the learning process (Ary et al. 2010).

English is trained as the second or foreign language throughout the Taiwanese education system, yet Taiwan has slipped its position in the world rankings. The gestures of teaching English in the classroom are the combination of many factors. Previously, the research focus on specialised areas which helped gaining an insight into a part of the psychology of the language learners’ (Rubin, 2014). The areas discussed above are the motivation, learning a second or foreign language, anxiety in the foreign language classroom and language learning strategies. Individually, the researchers were guided by these factors over the years. But these instruments and factors have been proven measures. It is time to combine these factors together and seek to reveal more of the holistic picture of foreign language acquisition (Mitchell et al. 2013).
Motivation is the complex human contrast, which has long difficulties for those persons who try to understand and explain it. Human psychology described the a motivation in a very wide range, like from instincts to needs, drives, and conditioned behavior. For this reason, the word motivation becomes very broad. Due to widen cognitive theories by the educational psychology the understanding of motivation becomes more prominent in the role of mental processes and social factors (Swain, Kinnear and Steinman, 2011). The issues related to the motivation are intricate, but we can say that motivation of every individual to learn the second language is very flexible, rather than fixed. The teachers can directly approach and influence the motivation of students or learners to learn English. With classroom motivation trainings, students will become more motivated. Both the teachers and students knew that more emphasis should be placed on other skills incorporating interesting life relating materials of their university courses, writing and their later professions. The teachers may help to motivate the students by involving them in choosing material for the class (Horwitz, 2014).

did not have the pressure when learning it. Also, hoping to be part of the L2 community was their higher goal.

On the contrary, some of my students have already passed the test, so they were not like those who were under pressure and have instrumental motivation. However, after a few classes, they asked me some questions related to the test-based problems. They said they need to achieve the higher goal since they would like to apply for the promotion. Their dimension of motivation transferred from intrinsic to extrinsic. Overall, L2 learning is a process, we may find that our motivation changes in different phase. We, language teachers, need to understand learners’ motivation and can offer better and more appropriate teaching way.

3.Implications and Conclusion


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