Acquiring and maintaining second-language skills: An examination of Canadian federal public service programs

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Cléroux, Dolorès
Second-Language , Acquisition
Research has shown that although it takes time and effort to acquire additional languages, they are valuable assets. Both teachers and learners have to be motivated, and active participation is required to succeed. Unfortunately, when active training is completed, the acquired skills seem to be easily lost. In this project, I describe specific programs used for the purpose of language training and the goals that are set for the military and civilian second language (L2) learners within the Ministry of National Defence bilingual Canada. I also review relevant literature in order to identify ways to maintain the acquired L2 skills after active learning has ended. During my literature research, I examined areas that pertain to language acquisition from both teachers’ and learners’ points of view. Teaching methods, testing within the government program, motivation, aptitude, and computer-assisted learning technologies were explored with respect to their use and educational value. Most of the studies that I found in my research indicate that teachers’ and learners’ motivation is an essential factor for success, that L2 is still a developing field where research is insufficient, and that many questions remain concerning retention of acquired L2 skills. Even if little research has been conducted on the question of language retention and maintenance to find out the rate at which an L2 is lost, the impression is that to maintain the acquired (L2) skills, teachers’ energies must be focused on ways to promote ongoing maintenance habits right from the beginning.
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