Strevens one country is accounted as a second

Strevens (1992) stated that over one and half billion people useEnglish as a first, second, or foreign language all over the world andemphasized that one quarter of these speakers have English as their nativelanguage, while the rest use it as a second or foreign language to establishcommunication.

More interestingly, over two third of these non-native Englishspeakers have learned this language in the past 20 years. Thanks to advances intechnology, which among other things, brought about wider intercommunicationamong people all over the world, this number is already on the rise. However,it should be taken into account that learning a language other than the firstone differs greatly with regard to the contexts in which learning the secondlanguage takes place (Marckwardt, 1963; Stern, 1983; Brown, 2001).Generally, language learning and teaching in a second languagecontext is much easier than that in a foreign language context. Regarding thisissue, Stern (1983) mentioned that a non-native language which is learned andpracticed “within” one country is accounted as a second language, while anon-native language learned and practiced with reference to a country “outside”territorial boundaries is accounted as foreign language.

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He also states thatthe purpose of second language learning is often different from foreignlanguage learning. Since the second language is frequently the officiallanguage in a society, learning it is needed “for full participation in thepolitical and economic life of the nation” (Paulston, 1974, p. 12-13), or itmay be the language for education (Marckwardt, 1963).In line with Stern (1983), Brown (2001) also made some distinctionsbetween foreign and second language learning contexts. To make an operationaldifferentiation between a second and foreign context, Brown (2001) emphasizedthe role of the environment outside the language classroom and stated thatthere are two different language learning environment in which a learner canlearn another language. He believed that in a second language situation, thelanguage learner is exposed to the target language outside the classroom in avariety of settings, while in a foreign language environment, the learner willrarely, if ever, have opportunity for exposure to the target language outsidethe educational setting or language classroom.

Teaching English in Japan,Morocco or Thailand, for example, is almost always a context of English as aforeign language (EFL) which lacks the aforementioned privileges.Social context has been considered as a very important factor withregard to the language teaching and learning process. For language teaching tobe effective, it is highly significant to make a relationship between languageand the society or the context where the language is used and put into practice(Stern, 1983).

The effect of social context on the process of language learningbecomes more prominent when the differences in the social factors involved inESL and EFL situations are taken into consideration.


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