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Learning a Second Language

Your brain – every brain – is a work in progress. It is a plastic. From the day we are born to the day we die, it continuously revises and remodels, improving or slowly declining as a function of how we use it.

Michael Merzenich

The objective of this article is to show some ideas of Learning a Second Language, encouraging learners and showing some mechanisms of a second language acquisition.

Each language has its own set of rules, learning the four skills (input and output) as a second language (L2) can give the learners certain fear, anxiety and also insecurity.

The idea of this article is to give some ideas and showing how the acquisition of a second language demands effort and dedicating every day, some hours to study, practice and developing the abilities, considering the individual process of learning.

Expecting all the people learning using the same materials and mechanisms is like expecting everybody wearing the same size of clothing.

1 – Learners should avoid the silent, some people try to focus their studies on the pronunciation, learn as much words as possible, but they forget the communication.

Since the beginning, the speech and interaction is fundamental. When learners interact with others, they become more motivated and the Teachers can provide some strategies, the tasks can be oriented toward fluency and accuracy, even though they probably will have some grammar mistakes, it is part of the process, especially when input in the language is limited and it is not usually need to survive.

Besides, each person has the individual learning styles, the strengths and weaknesses, extrovert and introvert behavior.

Working in groups or pairs enhance the spoken production and spoken interaction, also other languages skills.

The interaction between students is the key for a successful learning. Teachers can provide activities that simultaneously allow students making to use of the four skills.

A video class, a song, some researches, for example, can promote the interaction and developing the skills effectively because the students will produce tasks together using the aspects of the language, learning strategies, cultural experience and written production.

Self-introduction guided class, when the learners answer a range of personal questions and then the others can retell the information about the partners can be an excellent strategy that integrates the four skills.

Developing the confidence is the most important for learners, they must be able to create, exchange information using real situations.

Expose yourself as much as possible in order to practice and improve the skills will overcome the difficulties, to achieve the goals, it is needed to surround yourself with English and also individually take your time to review everything that has been teaching and make English part of your routine and practice, practice and practice.


Learning a second language effectively may open a vasty of opportunities in personal life and work place, also some studies have suggested that learning a second language boost brain power.

To achieve the process of learning a second language, avoid the fear, anxiety and insecurity.

Learners must keep in mind that learning without effort make the process less productive, easier and faster, respecting always the individual learning.

Motivation, autonomy and dedication are important to achieve the results which are expected either qualitative and quantitative.


Cohen, Andrew D. (1998) Strategies in Learning and Using a Second Language. Harlow, Essex.

Dornyei Zoltan (1994) Motivation and Motivating in the foreign language classroom. Modern Language Journal.

About author

Sandra Cunha é graduada em Letras e pós-graduada em língua portuguesa e literaturas da língua portuguesa. Possui certificado em Teaching Knowledge Test – TKT. É professora de inglês e de Língua Portuguesa para Estrangeiros há mais de 14 anos em Escolas de Idiomas, Empresas e Escola Particular.
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