GENDER AND IDENTITY ISSUES IN SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
1.1 Background to the Study
An extensive language acquisition is determined by a level of dexterity in the four language skills namely speaking, listening, reading and writing. Listening and speaking, in this order, have been described as the most important two as language transcends the semiotic, that is the language for communication, role. Language is both a sociological and political tool that influences man more than man does it; in it a person’s worldview is determined to the extent that language is consciousness so that such things as art especially the literary kind become a production of this consciousness at the same time a product of it. Disciplines like anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, history, etc., invest much time in the study of language as the latter bear upon any deep human-related study. As a result, bridge disciplines have sprung up over the last few decades such as sociolinguistics and so on.
However, it is the application of language studies in things like marketing, advertisement, social media strategies, programming, etc., that inform the surging call for more diverse language related studies. One of such is on the issues of gender and identity in second language acquisition.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
A cross-section of second language learners of a particular language with the same materials namely same tutors, learning media, duration of exposure, etc., are found to have advanced in the language at an alarming differences in dexterity. One begins to enquire into the various factors that have come to bear upon this differences in second language acquisition.
Studies have been carried out before now on the issues of gender in L2 and also the representation of identity in the acquisition of L2(second Language). One of such studies is Masoud Zoghi et al “The Effect of Gender on Language Learning” which:
examine[d] the effect of gender on English as a second language (EFL) achievement test at the end of RUN2 (young adults) at ILI (Iran Language institute in 2013). In other words, the aim of th[e] study was to determine whether student’s gender can affect their learning English as a second language or not. (1)
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of every research work always revolves around a problem and an enquiry into its solution. In research, of course, this problem can be in the form of a question whose posing can spurn into other questions. The research process then is the attempt at answering or solving this problem under established rules of the discipline from which the question originated.
In this particular research work, the focus is to establish the presence and issues of gender and identity in the learning of a second language. Individually, the influence of gender and identity on the acquisition of a second language has been studied and in the case of gender, researcher have concluded that presented before the same learning conditions and same languages, women have, at the initial stage, proven to be quicker and more eloquent in the new language than men whereby as time progresses, men tend to be better at it. It is the aim of this present examination to follow the study alongside the issues of identity in the learning of a second language.
Consequently, this study hopes to put to rest the question as to whether how a learner sees himself generally can influence his learning of a second language and how he is most likely to wield this second language. This is as it has been suspected that learners of a second language say English in areas where they enjoy free political security thrive better in the language than those who don’t.
1.4 Research Questions
As we pointed out in the background to the study, what brings a research into being isn’t always necessarily a problem; it can, and usually in the humanities, be a question. And the following questions have brought the present research work into being and have informed its scope.
1.4.1 Do gender and identity influence the acquisition of a second language?
1.4.2 What are the issues that inform this influence?
1.4.3 To what extend do they come to bear upon the learning of the second language?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research work would be of great significance to anyone teaching a language to an international student or just a second language learner as it would help shape the curriculum and teaching technique.
It would also be of immense importance to digital marketers in that their topographical targeting would take into consideration the findings of this work thereby focusing their social media campaigns and adverts on the gender which would relate to a particular language use in written contents.
The gender and identity issues raised in this work would stand as case in points in the cultural reorientation of the younger generations; the cultural practices that may be found to hamper the smooth learning of a second language in a gender would be legislated upon and a better ground found. One of such is the little or no exposure given to the girl child in most African countries to formal education which makes them illiterate in their mother tongue; a skill whose lack results in a difficulty in the acquisition of a second language.
1.6 Research Hypothesis
The hypothesis on which this research work would be carried out is found in the statement that issues of gender and identity significantly influence upon the acquisition of second languages
1.7 Scope of the Study
The gender and identity issues as related to the learning of a second language which would be treated here will concentrate on the immediate issues only.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
The very significant limitation of this research work is that of resources to carry out an extensive enquiry that can cut across a wide section of second language learners of different genders and backgrounds and also of different ages in order to conclude without any doubt that these factors influence second language acquisition. However, one cannot overlook time factor as the present research work is one that demands extensive field and theoretical work.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Gender is the state of being either male or female albeit there are other genders apart from this. But in a sociolinguistic study such as this, these two will suffice.
Character or the state and condition that gives a person the quality by which he or she is identified from other persons. identity often has a societal or legal undertone.
Zoghi, Masoud. “The Effect of Gender on Language Learning.” Journal of Novel Applied Sciences 4.2 (2013): 1124-28. PDF.