Effective communication is essential in any society as it creates the platform for mutual understanding. It can only be ensured if both parties converse in a common language or use other methods that can be comprehended by the people involved. Owing to the diversity in languages between global communities, there has been a growth in the need for mastery of a foreign language. Learning English in an English Second Language (ESL) context is among the most common practices employed by international students in their effort to comprehend other aspects of academics. Mastering the language from this context is without a doubt a challenging task for most people. In fact, developing foreign linguistic ability at a mature age has more often than not been described as a cumbersome commitment that requires a lot of energy and perseverance. Nonetheless, learning English in an ESL context produces greater learning outcomes for the learner.
In an ESL context, linguistic influence is provided from within and outside the classroom. While in the classroom, the teachers assess the learning process and ensure that their students get the most out of the lessons. According to Yu (2010), the trainees present the learning materials in English, and give instructions and assignments in the same language. It ensures that effective mastery of the language takes place by limiting the chances of making the entire process seem normal to the trainee. However, the same cannot be said for the English as a Foreign Language training policy. Primarily, the trainee is not exposed to a wider training environment since coaching takes place only within the classroom. Moreover, teaching is based on a particular context that results in confusion owing to the complexity of the methodology used in teaching (Aghazadeh, 2014). Arguably, the approach used in the ESL context is more efficient when compared to the EFL approach.
Reference to written literature is given a top priority during the training sessions as it ensures that the learners are in a position to read and comprehend materials written in English. Dziubalska-Kołaczyk and Przedlacka (2008) argue that the ESL learning context is mainly centered on the welfare of the student. It implies that teaching advancements are only made when the teacher affirms that the trainee is conversant with particular aspects of the language. As a result, effective mastery of language takes place since the learner is exposed to a conducive teaching environment. On the flip side, the converse of the abovementioned scenario takes place in an EFL context. As much as one might relate these two approaches as similar units, there exists a wider range of differences than one can imagine. Owing to the fact that teaching is based on a certain curriculum in the EFL context, the trainees are obliged to conduct their teaching practices as per the provisions of the guideline (Roodhouse, 2007). It makes the entire process less effective.
Thompson (2003) argues that prevalence of the ESL teaching context has become popular in the United States and in most European countries due to the urge for academic and career satisfaction. While in the teaching process, the teacher uses a rather holistic approach in the sense that he only uses English to convey the intended messages. It compels the students to gain linguistic competence in the entire lesson since doing the opposite makes them lose a lot (Wachob & MyiLibrary, 2009). Nonetheless, in the EFL context, the trainers and assessors may use the native language to ensure that the message they convey is well taken. When this happens, the students develop some informal perception towards the learning context. It makes the mastery of language in such an environment unconducive to gain optimum linguistic competence. Consequently, one is justified to claim that learning English in an ESL context provides greater learning outcomes for the learner.
As stated earlier, mastery of a foreign language at a mature age is a rather disheartening process, as it requires a lot of commitment and perseverance. In fact, nearly forty percent of the people enrolled in an EFL and ESL training context have been recorded to take a longer period than the curriculum due to mediocre mastery of the language within that frame (Gitaski & Baldauf, 2012). However, it is worth noting that the ESL context makes the learning process more interesting and motivating. It enables the students to use the language to fulfil the real purposes that make them more confident and independent due to interaction with native speakers and members of their class. Through the EFL training context, there is no assurance that the learning process will be encouraging. Craig (2012) states that success of the previously mentioned training approach is largely dependent on the ability of the assessor to make the class lively. If he/she fails to do this, effective learning will not take place and the students will end up not internalizing the principles of the language.
The ESL context enables students to develop the learning skills that are later utilized in gaining further knowledge through the use of the language. Some of these skills include summarizing, note taking, and extracting key information from a text (Baker & Tanker, 2006). Owing to the fact that the students are exposed to a conducive learning environment with real-time assessment, gaining insight into the abovementioned skills is easier. In simple terms, the students feel more obliged to make the best out of the favourable learning atmosphere created. On the other hand, this aspect is not the only one that is absent in the EFL context; gradual mastery of the language through long-term interaction is also absent in the EFL (In Dziubalska-Kołaczyk & In Przedlacka, 2008). For a fact, students in the EFL curriculum are only taught as per the provisions of the linguistic course. Once all the aspects that ought to be taught are covered, the assessor has completed his responsibility and is, therefore, fit to embark on different issues (Schneider, 2007). Such actions place the learners at a disadvantage as the possibility of great language competence is threatened.
Students in an EFL context are in the position to access authentic research material thereby enhancing their linguistic ability. According to Ho (2006), access to irrelevant course material during the internalization of a foreign language leads to mediocre mastery of this language. Consequently, it is imperative that the students make the most out of credible forms of literature in enhancing their linguistic competence. On the other hand, teaching approaches that do not rely on a physical trainee can expose the learner to the irrelevant material. In many cases, such students use easily accessible sources from the Internet (Rogers & Lott, 2013). Due to the rapid development of chat languages, these students will most likely internalize the same thinking since it is what the course requires of them. In the end, their linguistic ability is questionable as they got information from non-credible sources.
The relevance of the ESL teaching context is enhanced through the utilization of communicative language teaching, popularly referred to as CLT. The approach emphasizes that interaction is the ultimate goal and means of learning a language. It implies that the teacher lays emphasis on the student’s ability to communicate in English (Saxena & Omoniyi, 2010). The method is aimed at developing effective teaching approaches to enhance interdependence and language competence. Through the activities involved in the development of language competence in the students, the trainees can become communicatively competent within shorter periods owing to the massive commitment put up by the assessors through the CLT approach (Abdulrahman, 2012). Consequently, one is justified to claim that the ESL context provides an assurance to linguistic competence when compared to other teaching approaches like the EFL. Moreover, the CLT approach in the ESL places the students in a better position to master what the teachers avail to them during the training period.
Use of CLT in the ESL context enhances the students’ general knowledge of phonology, vocabulary, and semantics of a language. Internalization of these aspects of communication makes them more fluent in their delivery of messages (Zacharias, 2013). It is achieved through the establishment of a relationship between the social context of the language and the linguistic section thereof. When this intersection is achieved, the students are in a better position to start and maintain a conversation. Sharifian (2009) argues that this approach makes it easier for the trainees to learn more from the language, thereby enhancing their general knowledge, as well as gaining command over the linguistic requirements. It is worth noting that the above-mentioned environment is not assured in all the training parameters. In fact, when one masters a language from long-term interaction with the natives, there is no assurance that confidence in communication is achieved.
Through the utilization of communicative language teaching, the teacher assumes the role of the facilitator. Through this post, he/she has to ensure that the students maintain high linguistic abilities by the end of the course (Napthine & Daniel, 2009). On the other hand, the learner is obliged to participate in classroom-based activities based on cooperative approach. They include taking part in activities and group works that help them learn from peers. By ensuring that learning is not based only on an individualistic approach, collective learning and interaction are encouraged making it possible for the students to learn from the flaws of their classmates (Cummins & Davidson, 2007). It is a rather effective environment as opposed to the one created in an EFL context. It is attributed to the fact that learning is based on individual abilities and not on the entire group.
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The CLT approach utilized in the English as a Second Language context involves multiple activities that enhance the learning process. For instance, it utilizes accuracy and fluency tests. Through this measure, the learner can comprehend the requirements of the language as they are given certain standards in self-assessment (Coelho & Rivers, 2004). Apart from that, mechanical and consequential communicative practices are used to ascertain that the learner can maximize the content gained through the learning process to answer a given collection of questions. Hayes (2013) argues that this is an effective method for the determination of linguistic competence. Information gaps are also utilized to ensure that the students can fetch vocabularies from their arsenal to be used in the given contexts. Finally, through information and opinion sharing, the learners can convey what they have internalized collectively amongst their peers. This further enhances linguistic competence.
Conclusively, the merits of learning English in the ESL context are numerous. As much as one might term the activity as a cumbersome and committing task, it is imperative to reconsider one’s perception towards the same. As compared to other learning approaches, it is relatively better owing to the fact that mastery of linguistic competence is achieved within and outside of the classroom. Moreover, the assessor has the responsibility of ensuring that effective training takes place through accuracy and fluency tests, mechanical and consequential communicative practices, information and opinion sharing. Rendering the learning process as a collective responsibility other than individualistic enhances the probability of gaining more insight from the learning process. Therefore, without a doubt, learning English in an ESL context produces greater learning outcomes for the learner.