Second Language Acquisition: The Case of Filipino Migrant Workers

Joel C. Meniado


Many Filipino migrant workers (overseas Filipino workers) in their status as adult learners struggle in learning the local language of their host countries to native-like proficiency level. With the aim of establishing a second language (L2) acquisition pattern that may be useful in designing responsive adult training and welfare programs, this study examines how these workers acquire their L2s and what factors influence their rate and success in L2 learning. Utilizing mixed methods research design with 15 overseas Filipino workers as samples who learned various local languages in 10 different host countries, this study reveals that immersion and actual use of the target language in authentic communicative situations can make language acquisition easier. Findings of this study also confirm that instrumental and integrative motivation coupled with strong target language (TL) community support can make L2 learning faster, while old age and non-necessity of the L2 at work can make the whole process slower. In terms of communication strategies, findings show that syntactic avoidance is the most common communication strategy used, followed by direct appeal to authority (native speakers) and use of gestures, facial expressions, and translation tools. As foreign workers, their motivational orientations in learning their L2 are for employment, cultural understanding, and cultural integration. Implications of these findings are discussed in relation to second language teaching among adult language learners and overseas workers.


Language Acquisition, Second Language Acquisition, L2 Learning, Overseas Filipino Workers, Adult Learners

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