Correlation between extracurricular, curricular exposure to English and FLA success in students learning English for more than 13 years
Keywords:foreign language acquisition, age factor in SLA, contextual factor in SLA
Today’s generations have been introduced to foreign language (FL) learning from an early age. In fact, in Croatia, English as a foreign language is mandatory from the 1st grade of the primary school and in some European countries even from kindergarten (Poland, Cyprus, some communities in Spain). However, children are also acquiring foreign language unintentionally through the exposure to different media such as TV, Internet and social networks as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok. Successful L2 acquisition is often contributed to the age factor and individual differences between L2 learners (social, cognitive, affective), but contextual factors that include wider community, language policy, education system and formal, non-formal and informal opportunities for L2 development should not be neglected. Three different contexts of acquiring second language can be differentiated: at home context, where the new language is studied as foreign language, immersion context, which is characterised by the immersion in the language of the environment, and study abroad context, which takes place in the L2 setting (Collentine and Fred, 2004). Since at home context refers to formal learning of language in a formal environment, the terms such as local context and local environment in which a language is learned are used more often. In the present research, a questionnaire was administered to 40 university students of food technology with the aim of determining the correlation between curricular, extracurricular and students’ success in FLA based on the secondary school, secondary school leaving certificate and the university grades. The following conclusions that will be discussed later in the paper have been reached: the students’ final grade in English on the secondary school exit exam and at the 1st year of studying does not differ to a great extent (although there was a 38 % decline in the final grade in English at the university level); the students have been exposed to English primarily through watching films with the English subtitles, listening to English songs, using social networks, listening to podcasts, playing video games and reading books; most of the students think that their success in mastering English can be contributed to both curricular and extracurricular exposure to English; students mostly spend up to 10 hours weekly being exposed to extracurricular contents; most of the students started learning English in the first grade of the primary school; weak correlation was found between very early exposure to English (kindergarten) and the highest grade (A) in English; stronger correlation was found between the exposure to extracurricular contents and the final grade in English (A in English on secondary school exit exam and 1st year of studying), leading to the conclusion that extracurricular exposure to English is a factor contributing to higher achievements (when final grade is concerned) in English and as such should not be neglected.