Social influences on successful learning in a L2: A proposed model from consensual qualitative research


Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education


Dept of English and Applied Linguistics

Document Type

Archival Material/Manuscript


Among the many challenges that college learners in the Philippines face, one of the most difficult may be the requirement to accomplish majority of their oral and written academic tasks not in their native language, but in their L2 which is English, and which is also the medium of instruction (MOI) for most of their courses in school. However, it is also a reality that not all students struggle. Some learners are proof that it is possible to succeed in learning subject matter in a L2 and do well academically. Many factors influence successful learning in a L2, and one potential factor is social influences. In the present study, 14 Filipino college ESL learners were interviewed about the social influences on their successful learning in a second language (L2) which is English. They were selected from five large universities in Metro Manila through purposive sampling method. This qualitative investigation was carried out from a constructivist/interpretivist research paradigm which holds that reality is constructed in the mind of the individual (Hansen, 2004 in Ponterotto, 2005) and that the goal of a study should be to understand the “lived experiences” from the point of view of those who live it day by day (Schwandt, 2000 in Ponterotto, 2005). Data were analyzed with the Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) methodology (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997; Hill et al., 2005) where interview transcripts were analyzed and domains and categories identified. Learning in a L2 to was found to be influenced by language exposure at home, language use in school, language use in the community, media, language use in society, and personal beliefs and preferences regarding language and language use. Specifically, these learners identified the positive influence and support of their parents (and other family members) and teachers and professors as a main contributor to their successful learning in a L2. It is also typical for these successful learners to use both their L1 and L2 in learning, depending on what is appropriate or useful to the task at hand. The learners also equate learning in English with learning/acquiring English. Thus, when they talk about influences on their learning, they mention being motivated by “models” of good English usage (i.e. good “speakers” of English). Clearly, social factors do not directly impact the learning process itself but instead affects the learner’s motivation to learn. This study sheds lights on the actual lived experiences of Filipino university students who are ESL learners as to the social influences that they perceive motivate them and thus contribute to their successful learning in a L2. The literature on social factors have mostly been concentrated on the acquisition of a L2 and not the L2 as language of instruction and learning, thus marginalizing those learners who have acquired the L2 and are utilizing it in actual learning. Nevertheless, the present study proves that to see how social influences actually impact learning, an understanding of how these factors actually influence motivation is essential. Research that describes the type of social environments necessary for academic success will always have both theoretical and practical significance. The findings serve to extend and deepen the understanding of these social influences as perceived and experienced by this group of learners



English Language and Literature


Second language acquisition; English language—Acquisition; Social influence

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