Learning foreign languages among teenagers

Learning foreign languages is becoming more and more popular and necessary nowadays. The aim of the report is to examine this area. I wanted to find out if people consider learning foreign languages easy or difficult and, which skills are problems for them. I was also interested in the reason why they want to study foreign languages, how they want to use them, which foreign languages they learn and for how long. Finally, I wanted to find out what the respondents think about the idea of creating one universal language for all the people in the world.

My survey was carried out among 28 young people aged 17 – 18 years old. The respondents were both girls and boys (17 girls and 11 boys). All of them are secondary school students and they come from different social background. They live in villages or small town. Methodology used In today’s fast – moving world the knowledge of foreign language is necessary. People, especially the young ones, should particularly interested in it. I wanted to find out what their understanding of this problem was, how they perceive it, what problem concerning learning foreign languages they have.

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The data included in this report was obtained by means of a questionnaire. Constructing the questionnaire I was thinking how to create a questionnaire which would be easy to understand but also which would give me enough information that I needed. I decided to create ten questions. The types of questions were different. I used open – ended questions, multiple choice. In some of the multiple choice questions students were asked to choose more than one answer. In more complicated questions students could give their own additional information in spaces which were provided for it.

This research was carried out during the breaks between lessons at school. The survey was anonymous and included 10 questions. Questions were written in Polish language so that the respondents could understand them easily and have no problems with giving the answers. The questionnaire was created in such a way that each respondent could fulfill it within less than 5 minutes. During the break I asked a few students to answer my questionnaire. They did usually not have any difficulties with it. I informed the students that the survey was anonymous.

In some cases I gave some additional information about it. On the whole, students did not rather have problems with the questionnaire. After surveying I created a chart in which I put all the results of my survey. In this way the results of the research were clearly seen and it was easy to analyze them. Predictions and findings The first question of my survey was about the sex of my respondents. I believed that there may be some differences in approach to learning languages by girls and boys. My predictions were justified.

Fifty per cent of boys were of the opinion that learning foreign languages is not a pleasure but hard work. Opposite to that findings only a small proportion of girls replied that they do not like learning languages. The majority of girls felt that learning languages is not only useful but also it gives them pleasure. Over half of those interviewed claimed that learning foreign languages is not a problem for them. They point the way how to avoid difficulties in learning. One third of the people interviewed claim that systematic work is the most important in learning foreign languages.

On the other hand, the majority of those who find learning languages difficult claim that they do usually not learn regularly and I think that this is the reason why they do not like learning foreign languages. People do not like things which cause problems. The second part of my work was devoted to the problem which skills were considered as the most difficult and why. As I predicted, it depends on the language being learnt. As I believed over two third of those who took part in the research claim that the most difficult is grammar.

Only one third replied that speaking causes problems. But what is really surprising, nobody chose reading as a difficult skill and only a small proportion were of the opinion that writing and vocabulary are difficult. Analyzing the results I realized that my respondents do usually not have problems with vocabulary because they learn regularly and this is why this area is easy for them. Those who find grammar the most difficult reported that there are too many tenses which are very similar to each other.

It means that they are used to their own language grammar structures and adopting new structures and quite a different usage of tenses is very difficult for them. What may be understandable is the is the fact that nobody chose reading as a difficult skill. Respondents do not usually have problems with understanding texts because even if they find any difficult words they can understand them from the context or check their meaning in a dictionary. The next part of my survey was connected with the number of languages which my respondents learn and which languages are the most popular.

A significant percentage of those who responded replied that they learn two languages. They are English and German. Only the minority of people who were surveyed replied that they learn more than two languages. The reason why most of the respondents learn two languages, is that they are obligatory at school. However, the length of time they have been learning these languages is very different. Half of the people have been studying foreign languages for more than seven years – my respondents are of age between 17 and 18. Only ten percent of them have been learning foreign languages for less than five years.

Those results show that the awareness of the importance of knowing foreign languages is really high. My respondents know why they learn foreign languages – it is not only necessity, but they are also aware of the fact that these skills will be very useful in the future. Preceding my survey I asked my respondents why they learn foreign languages. Today, when we have such a high rate of unemployment, it is essential to gain as a high level of education as possible, in order to get a good job. As I thought, the respondents were very well informed about the situation of employment in our country.

They are aware of the fact that foreign languages are inevitable in obtaining a good job. The majority of people are of the opinion that knowing at least two foreign languages gives them the opportunity of getting a satisfying job in the future. What is more, fifty percent claim that it is very useful in everyday life as they can use this knowledge traveling abroad, watching films or listening to songs. I think that young people are very responsible and they know what they want. They seem to be really decisive and they do not discourage when they encounter any problems.

For the question when they use their foreign language skills at present, two third replied that it is very useful when they go on holidays. A large number claim that they are able to communicate through the Internet with friends from other countries. They also claim that foreign languages give them opportunities to make friends this way. As for the future plans connected with using their language abilities, my respondents gave very different answers. One third of them claim that they want to travel abroad. That is why they treat learning foreign languages really seriously.

Surprisingly, the minority of the respondents replied that they use their skills for reading books or newspapers in foreign languages. However, a significant number of them claim that the foreign language is necessary in understanding the lyrics of songs and dialogues in films. They like watching films in foreign languages. They find it as a good practice and they do it really often. I think that they can make learning languages both pleasant and useful in this way. Thinking of career prospects, seen as a part of young people’s life, we know that the situation of employment is really bad nowadays.

That is why teenagers consider finding a job abroad and for this reason learning foreign languages is something very important for them. They want to be sure that they will find a job after leaving the school. Therefore, I have to realize that my findings are based on teenagers who learn in secondary school (Liceum). Young people who attend this kind of school are usually very ambitious and they know what they want. They have precise plans for their future. It should be taken into consideration that this kind of views are not usual among all the Polish teenagers.

The results among young people who have lower educational ambitions may be different. The most unpredictable were the answers for the questions about the idea of creating one universal language for all the people in the world. It should be taken for granted that people who pay so much attention to learning foreign language and have to work so hard, would answer that one language for everyone is a good idea. Surprisingly, my survey gave evidence that young people identify the language with culture and they consider the culture much more important than other things.

Almost one hundred per cent replied that one universal language would lead to the loss of their own culture and national identity. Limitations of the study Taking into consideration the fact that this survey was carried out among a limited number of respondents and they come from very limited area (only villages and small town), this research cannot be seen as a completely reliable source of information. This report shows that teenagers attending the secondary school have accurate preferences related to their views. The results are also limited because this questionnaire could not be too complicated.

I wanted it to be easy and clear for the respondents. We should be aware of the fact that some information could have been given insincerely. Finally, in order to get more precise results I should have prepared the survey in a way that the preferences connected with the particular language may be checked. For example, for Poles English is much more difficult than Russian. There are also differences between learning English and German. Some of the respondents find English much easier than German while the others just the opposite.

On the whole, the results of the survey are rather general and cannot be treated as a final and completely accurate description of the subject. Conclusion It is generally felt that learning foreign languages is necessary in today’s world. Most of the respondents claim that it is not only necessity but also pleasure as proved by the fact that they want to use their language abilities both for work – finding a good job or working abroad; but also understanding films or songs in foreign language – that is for entertainment.

Most respondents present quite a high level of political and economic awareness which is illustrated by the fact that they want to learn languages and they know how important it is for their future life. Finally, the survey shows that languages mean not only a good job and entertainment for young people, but also culture. They know that studying languages they also gain knowledge about the countries those languages come from and what is more, this fact is also important for those young people who were the respondents of my questionnaire.