In some countries, learners have lessons taken entirely in a foreign language: for example, more than half of European countries with a minority/regional language community use partial immersion to teach both the minority and the state language. This method is also highly used in Canada, wherein anglophone students spend all of most of their lessons learning the materials in French.
Since the 1990s, the has tried to standardise the learning of languages across Europe.
Learning a foreign language provides various benefits, ranging from improving career opportunities to enhancing cognitive abilities.
In summary, learning a foreign language is not only useful for practical purposes, but also beneficial for cognitive, social and personal development. It can improve one's brain power, memory, concentration, creativity, communication skills and cultural awareness. It can also open up new opportunities for education, work and travel. Therefore, learning a foreign language is a worthwhile investment for anyone who wants to enrich their lives and broaden their horizons.
Although significant differences between the definitions of second language and foreign language may be hard to find as the two terms are often taken as synonyms, research has been carried out to shed light on the differentiating traits of the two. The distinction between acronyms TESL (Teaching of English as a Second Language) and TEFL (Teaching of English as a Foreign Language) shows the attention different researchers have paid to the concepts of foreign language and second language.
Richards and Schmidt (2002: 472) provide the following information about second language:
So, the distinction between 'second language' and 'foreign language' is a geographical and environmental distinction. We can mention 'second-language situation' and 'foreign-language situation' as two situations of learning, not two kinds of languages. So a foreign language is not always a foreign language and a second language is not always a second language. Since the distinction is geographical, the two situations (learning second language and learning foreign language) can be considered as a continuum. At one extreme, we may find learners learning without external help and direction purely from exposure to the non-native language through living in the target language environment (second-language learning) and at the other we find learners learning the non-native language exclusively in language teaching setting and classrooms (foreign-language learning).
The purposes of second-language learning are often different from foreign-language learning. Second language is needed for full participation in the political and economic life of the nation, because it is frequently the official language or one of two or more recognised languages. It may be the language needed for education. Among the purposes of foreign-language learning are traveling abroad, communication with native speakers, reading foreign literature or scientific and technical works.
There are some major differences between foreign and second language teaching and learning. In second-language learning, one can receive input for learning both inside and outside the classroom. They can readily put to use what is learned, as can the child learning its first language, so much naturalistic practice is possible.
Second-language learners are usually more successful in developing non-native language skills and what is learned may be essential for getting along in the community, so motivation is stronger.
Acculturation that is a main aspect of learning a language is easier in the case of second-language learning and the emotional role of language (as opposed to communicational role) is easier to use for learners.
The major characteristics of the planned condition of the classroom in the case of foreign-language learning as opposed to natural conditions of second-language learning are:
There are some other issues in teaching and learning foreign language and second language including the type of motivation and the distinction between 'learning' and 'acquisition' that I will discuss them in separate parts.
In linguistic and pedagogic literature, there is often a distinction made between acquisition and language learning. Children are said to 'acquire' their native language, as they begin with no prior information or knowledge, whereas adults are said to 'learn' a non-native language. Acquisition is viewed as a natural, unconscious, untaught, and possibly unteachable process, while learning is seen as more artificial, usually conscious and possibly dependent on instruction and study.
This distinction between acquisition and learning can be useful in discussing language learning, as the general conditions in the case of second language acquisition offer opportunities for acquisition, as it is informal, free, undirected, and naturalistic. Conversely, in the case of foreign language learning, educational treatment may offer opportunities primarily for learning.
However, it is important to note that acquisition can occur in the case of foreign-language learning, and learning can occur in the case of second-language learning. For example, immigrants to the US may attend language teaching classes in the target language environment, allowing for both acquisition and learning. Similarly, foreign-language learners who are far from the target language environment may still acquire language through exposure to media such as foreign radio or literature.
In conclusion, while the distinction between acquisition and learning is useful in understanding language acquisition and learning, it is important to recognize that both processes can occur in various language learning contexts. Therefore, it is essential to employ a variety of language learning strategies and techniques, tailored to the specific learner's needs and goals, to maximize language acquisition and learning.