Learning English as a Second Language (ESL) can be challenging for first-generation Hispanic immigrants, perhaps increasing their sensitivity to communication anxiety. As a component of socialization, people who move to a different nation often face obstacles such as adjusting to a foreign dialect, making friends, and securing a steady job. According to Coumel, et al. (2022), the term “acculturation” refers to how newcomers to a place (the UK) attempt to balance preserving their cultural traditions with assimilating into the dominant culture there. The term “acculturative anxiety” describes the strain newcomers feel as they struggle to preserve their traditions while assimilating into mainstream society (par. 8). Therefore, it is crucial to zero in, on the most pertinent events and processes related to intercultural engagement when analyzing them from a missiological standpoint. As individuals of all backgrounds, races, and religions grow more interconnected in this era of globalization, the problem of learning English as a second language takes on greater significance. As a result, the significance of acculturation for Hispanics is examined in light of their efforts to acquire English as a second language and, the impact that their heritage has on the concept of self.
Based on Berry’s (1980) acculturation model, two dimensions that are assimilation and separation, intersect to create the other essential two elements; integration and marginalization. Assimilation allows for an understanding of how the Hispanic student adopts the English culture and discards their native culture. Separation illustrates how the student rejects the English culture and retains their native culture. Integration enables the student to accept the English culture while maintaining their native Spanish culture while marginalization is where the learner declines both their innate and receiving cultures. This research will indicate that foreign Hispanic students can benefit from focusing on the above extraneous elements that have been shown to facilitate successful acculturation.
The missiological interaction offers a chance to enrich the research. The burden of learning English as a second language might be prohibitive, which is why it is the purpose of Christian neighbors and acquaintances to assist those of Hispanic descent who wish to take this step. To enable the most efficient learning process and to respect both host and hosted cultures, it is essential to comprehend the position of learners. One of the Biblical lessons is to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves,” as Jesus said (English Standard Version (ESV) Bible, Matthew 22:39). In addition, Jesus Christ stated that the first and greatest commandment is “love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind” (ESV Bible, Matthew. 22:37). Christians can show their love and God’s grace often through knowledge and common cooperation by serving and assisting Hispanic English language learners.
A private English language institute dedicated to students aged 16 and upwards from around the world serves as the academic setting. However, it should be stressed that the center is available to anybody interested in learning English, not simply those from other countries. The research focuses on students of ESL in the United Kingdom and considers the students’ diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. In general, research on acculturation and student agency will be useful here. When seen through the lens of critical hypothesis theory, the question of students’ ages was contentious. The thought that, just as chronological age is essential in learning one’s native tongue, it is equally important in learning a foreign language also influenced the development of this hypothesis.
This investigation will draw on social sciences, theology, and the Bible methods to construct a case in response to these issues. Given that the topic at hand concerns people’s social, ethnic, or religious beliefs, these fields will serve as the foundational support to building the argument.
Field-Based Research Methodologies
The researcher will take three in-depth interviews and a participant observation study as part of an ethnographic methodology to answer the research topic. The ethnographic methodology has been used better to comprehend cultural norms, philosophies, and lexicons. The Hispanic ethnicity of the participants will be an important factor in the data collection process. The goal of these interviews is to learn more about the impact of intercultural communication programs on the attitudes and actions of participants who volunteered in the study sample. These interviews aim to learn more about the impact of intercultural communication programs on the attitudes and actions of participants who volunteered in the study sample. To answer the research question, qualitative information will be collected and assessed.
Although there are various angles from which to examine the relationship between ESL and Second language acquisition (SLA), this investigation focuses on acculturation and learner autonomy. Schumann’s acculturation model is a comprehensive representation of acculturation in second language acquisition. Schumann hypothesized that the psychological and social distance that learners place between the second language and themselves determine why some learners quickly progress when learening a second language while others with the same initial learning instructions and abilities make slower progress in the same amount of time (Pinnegar & Teemant, 2019 par. 2). This research was conducted to raise awareness of the significance of acculturation for Hispanic ESL students taking classes abroad. Furthermore, acculturation and learner autonomy will be the primary research foci. The research aims to determine if acculturation is important for ESL students. Additionally, I hope to draw parallels to the concept of learner autonomy in a non-native English-speaking environment. The following research question can aid answers to the study’s stated objectives.
- What is the importance of acculturation to Hispanic students in learning English as a second language?
- How does the efforts of Hispanic students to acquire English as a second language affect their learning progress?
- What impact does the heritage of Hispanic students have on the concept of self?
The literature review summarizes the key ideas regarding the effect of ethnic and cultural origin on their success as ESL learners. Considering Britainet al. (2020), the British government is aware of the multicultural nature of the modern United Kingdom and recognizes the importance of a common language. According to the research of Clifford and Morphet (2022), the British government has embraced the Community-based English learning language in an effort to improve citizens’ command of the English language and facilitate their integration into the local ethnic community. These efforts benefit those who have grown up in an English-speaking culture while easing the transition to British culture for those who speak other languages (Clifford and Morphet, 2022 p. 12).
Although often used interchangeably, the terms assimilation and acculturation are distinct processes. One study that used empirical evidence to show the distinction between the two names is cited below (Ghosh et al., 2021 p. 191). Assimilation, as contrasted with acculturation, is dependent on the community’s individual members accepting and identifying with the newcomer. Overseas students can indeed acclimate to their new environments, but it doesn’t mean they would not still have to overcome some obstacles. Previous studies have shown that there are a variety of difficulties for international students adjusting to American society. Discrimination, language, education, and social pressures all have a role. Aoyama and Takahashi (2020) further claim that the extent to which each student encounters these obstacles varies. Thus, the current research findings show how ESL deals with these obstacles and how it affects linguistic and cultural assimilation.
Characteristics of Acculturation among Students
This research relies heavily on precise definitions of acculturation. As shown by Bishaw (2019), acculturation investigates how a dominant culture in a given area affects a minority culture. He maintains that this is a distinctive feature of acculturation in many cases. In most societies, the less-educated populace follows the lead of the more influential elite. This can be verified theoretically. It is common knowledge that newcomers to a region are generally unaware of the norms and customs developed there. However, the dominant population thoroughly understands the local beliefs and customs. Thus, a newcomer should be prepared to assimilate into the dominant culture rather than clinging to the old ways of doing things from which they came. However, this does not always mean that the dominating group will affect those in the background (Aoyama & Takahashi, 2020 p. 705). Acculturation has the potential to alter the normative culture in ways that are not always positive. Over time, as the dominant group interacts with the foreign one, it may pick up certain vital things previously missing from its own culture.
As a result, acculturation has been proposed as a subject for academic inquiry, with the expectation that such investigation may yield fruit. By combining the customs of many diverse groups of people, this strategy hopes to make minorities obsolete (Bishaw, 2019) eventually. The cultural norms and religious tenets adhered to by various groups vary widely. Communities should act in accordance with these ideas in their daily lives until individuals are instructed by their seniors that the related cultural rules and activities have been revised or abandoned. The concept of acculturation has been and continues to be discussed to bring about cultural parity among the many communities that make up a country (Bishaw, 2019). Acculturation, in which members of a minority group adopt customs from a majority culture, is a leading cause of the decline and eventual extinction of that minority group.
Additionally, acculturation investigates a variety of alterations that are rarely, if ever, automatic or unintentional. These changes are orchestrated by a superior culture, which may exert its influence via the marketplace or the state. Due to the significance and rarity of the observed alterations, thorough and patient research is required to draw meaningful conclusions (Aoyama & Takahashi, 2020 p. 708). A governing body should exert authority over everyone else and direct their every move. Most of the time, a superior political and cultural civilization dictates norms to a lesser one. However, mutual respect between the two communities should always be maintained. Leaders, too, need to listen to and value the perspectives of those who may be in the minority. The contributions of underrepresented groups to society’s functioning are critical; hence mainstream institutions should never dismiss or ignore minority concerns (Bishaw, 2019). In addition, subordinate groups have an obligation to respect their superiors. We must constantly respond to differing viewpoints in the most considerate way possible. There should be no hint of arrogance in the conversation, as this is a certain way to signal contempt and open the door to misinterpretations.
Effects of Acculturation on Learner’s Mental Status
Acculturation has been shown to affect an individual’s character through modifying their stress levels. It has been argued that immigrants’ health is generally worse than native-born citizens of the host country. Acculturative stress theory, popularized by Yu and Downing, provides a clear explanation for the adverse health outcomes and behaviors commonly associated with acculturation (Yu and Downing, 2012). Stress associated with acculturation is a manifestation of the reactions immigrants have to their new environments. Most stressful is trying to keep up with one’s native tongue while still learning and mastering the foreign language and establishing a healthy balance between the two cultures. At the same time, the immigrant is expected to bridge the gap between the norms of his host country and his own (Bishaw, 2019). Several sways illustrate the effects of acculturative stress. Depression, anxiety, substance misuse, and other mental and physical symptoms of maladaptation are all possibilities.
When a student fails to master a foreign language despite living in the host country for a number of months to years, they may develop feelings of depression and poor self-esteem. Some individuals may find it challenging to acquire new languages, which can impede communication (Yu and Downing, 2012). The immigrant feels hopeless since he still has trouble communicating in the host country’s language after living there for some time.
As a bonus, students’ mental health has improved due to increased social connections to their ethnic communities. Recent works in the field investigate the effects of culture on students’ happiness. It has been shown that students who study a language other than their native one demonstrate a considerable improvement in their overall cognitive abilities. People-to-people interactions broaden their horizons and expose them to perspectives they would not have considered before. They broaden their perspective on life through conversations about diverse ways of being in the world. They gain experience dealing with a variety of real-world issues. We should welcome this significance of belonging to a group, as it seeks happiness in one’s individual life. The social identity hypothesis, which says that people look for ways to become part of larger social groupings since doing so raises their sense of worth, provides support for this idea. This then goes on to aid the student’s mental health. When he’s around the people he knows, he feels at ease in the host country. A person who devotes herself to learning about her ethnic group may find accepting people of other backgrounds difficult. Likely, he will not accept generalizations and prejudices about others.
Finally, one’s nationality may play a role in defining culture. According to Alshenqeeti (2016), a person’s culture is their national culture. However, people of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds share common worldviews (Khalid et al., 2020 p. 1249). However, in Asian societies, the concept of autonomy often perpetuates a falsehood about that very process. Autonomy in second language acquisition is considered a pedagogical goal but does not necessitate a particular approach (Khalid et al., 2020 p. 1252). As Alshenqeeti (2016) points out, however, there are various methods for self-directed study. From this vantage point, it would be more accurate to criticize the technique than the students if students in a specific culture did not respond to a particular method of encouraging their autonomy.
As a part of my research, I will be conducting interviews with Hispanic ESL students and instructors to determine the significance of acculturation and how much a student’s ethnic and cultural background impacts their language acquisition. The ethnographic methodology has been used better to comprehend cultural norms, philosophies, and lexicons. The Hispanic ethnicity of the participants will be an essential factor in the data collection process. Considering the size and composition of the population, it is required to split this sample into two distinct European and Hispanic subgroups for analysis. This will allow for an evaluation of the impact of the learners’ backgrounds on the learning process to be gauged through observation. Then, the sampled respondents will be interviewed to determine their level of understanding.
Semi-structured interviews and observations were the primary means of information gathering. While case histories and questionnaires were used, the research was primarily qualitative. The study’s descriptive goals included organizing and summarizing the phenomenon such that anyone could understand it. It was partially deductive, with the intended outcome showing a sophisticated and concrete connection between causes and effects. Part of the process was inductive, planning to discover something new about the phenomenon. Qualitative research relies heavily on seeing and recording people’s actions, interactions, and behavior. Here, the researcher used data to test the hypotheses that (1) acculturation is crucial for ESL students and (2) second language learning varies by participants’ ethnicity and culture. Simply put, conducting thorough observations helps researchers better understand the subject under study. This is because the subjects are being watched in their natural environment with as little interference from the researcher, allowing for a more accurate portrayal of their normal behavior.
In contrast, qualitative research often uses semi-structured interviews to glean information about people and their experiences. Semi-structured interviews also allow researchers to acquire more in-depth data. Since the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of acculturation on second language learning for English as a second language (ESL) students, semi-structured interviews were the method of choice for data collection. Semi-structured interviews were also suitable since they allowed the researcher to ascertain whether or not ESL learners’ autonomy in learning a second language varies according to participants’ ethnicity and cultural orientation.
The findings demonstrated that students have different reasons for studying overseas that influence their motivation. Some students may need external rewards or punishments to get them to study, but others may find their internal drive more powerful. Yet another recurrent concept was that of acceptance. It was noted that there were problems with local acceptance among the participants. One responder, a Hispanic woman, said she has not been able to connect with the community and that the majority of her center friends are also Hispanic. Another responder cited linguistic limitations as a hindrance to her acceptance. For instance, this respondent alleged that “it is challenging to interact with individuals outside the center because I am not fluent in English.”
Linguistic hurdles hamper acculturation. This confirms that a language barrier prevents international students from integrating with natives (Koo et al., 2021 p. 282). In addition, the language barrier may indicate that locals are unwelcoming to international students. The sixth and seventh respondents both attend university in the United Kingdom for purely pragmatic reasons. Even though they were interviewed separately, these two participants shared similar views on the natives. Both claimed that communicating with others was challenging because of language barriers.
These interviews suggest that several external elements are critical to overseas students’ successful acculturation. Students have difficulty adjusting to their new environments because of the obstacles they must overcome. Although acculturation is crucial to learning a second language, there is considerable variation in the ways in which pupils from different cultural backgrounds acculturate. While European students try to integrate with the community and develop friends, their Hispanic counterparts have a more difficult time adjusting. Regardless, most responders came from middle-to-upper socioeconomic status, suggesting that acculturation isn’t the only option for SLA.
The difficulties that the Hispanic language students had in adapting to British culture were obvious. If you compare Arabic learners to European learners, you’ll notice that the obstacles highlighted by Aoyama & Takahashi (2020) are far more challenging to overcome. This is because the new population does not share the Arabic speakers’ ethnic and cultural differences. Most people who speak Arabic would instead socialize with those of the same ethnicity and culture. Findings suggest that compared to native Brits, those learning Arabic are more likely to hold different opinions, making it beneficial for them to spend time with other Arabs. Learners may be goal-based or interest-driven; therefore, consideration of other factors, such as students’ motivation to acquire a second language, is crucial.
It was plain to see that our Hispanic students had a tough time adjusting to life in the United Kingdom. The challenges faced by Arabic language learners are much greater than those faced by European language learners, as discussed by Aoyama and Takahashi (2020, p. 718). The reason being the new population does not share the Arabic speakers’ distinct ethnicity and culture. The vast majority of Hispanic speakers prefer to spand time with people who share their backgrounds and customs. The results imply that people learning Arabic are more likely to have a variety of perspectives than native Britons, suggesting that they might benefit from interacting with native Arabs. Consideration of other elements, such as students’ drive to study a second language, is vital since students may be interest-driven in their learning.
The study used semi-structured interviews and in class observation.The study’s overarching question aimed to determine whether or not acculturation aided in ESL earning. Despite the importance of acculturation for SLA students, research showed that students were indifferent to the concept.The students understood the significance of acculturation, especially Hispanic students interested in mingling with native Brits (Gautam, 2022 p.28). The experiences of overseas students , and Arabic language students, in particular, are shaped by various variables. A number of variables , such a linguistic and social limitations make it difficult to focus outside the centre. The question also asked whether or not ethnic and cultural factors influenced students’ sense of independence in the classroom. Students from both Hispanic and European cultural backgrounds participated in the study. The results reveal that the students took their education seriously; those who used strategic approaches to studying fared best. The study’s results showed that additional factors, besides students’ ethnicity and culture, affect their degree of independence. One of the discovered factors is the student’s educational background and how it relates to the student’s preferred learning method. The results provide a straightforward answer to the research question since they show that learner independence is influenced by the level of education the learner has already attained. Additionally, the findings demonstrated that students have different reasons for studying overseas that influence their motivation. Some students might be extrinsically motivated, but others are motivated by intrinsic factors. Therefore, it is unlikely to respond directly to the research questions given this study’s limited time-frame and scope. Nonetheless, data analysis presented an avenue for recognizing the effects of learning English in foreign nations from teachers, students, and personal insights regarding acculturation and student autonomy.
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