Social context, an often-neglected dimension in L2 learning/use, can play a vital role in sustaining learners' initial motivation. As researchers have begun to shift their focus from teaching to learners and learner variables, what happens to learners when they practise their new skills in the community, has become an important area of concern. Using data on Welsh learners' experiences outside the classroom, the author argues that, in order to learn a second or foreign language successfully, learners require regular interaction in the target language in a setting in which they feel comfortable. The impact on learners of native speakers' switch to a language of wider communication, their speed of speech, use of dialect and identity issues are explored as are the relevance of practical issues such as time and opportunity and affective factors such as anxiety.
Dr Lynda Pritchard Newcombe is from South Wales and lives in Cardiff. She learned Welsh, her ancestral language as an adult and has extensive experience of teaching Welsh and German to adults. She has been involved in various research projects on L2 learning/use and bilingualism, most of which have been qualitative in nature; she has, however, collaborated in some quantitative studies with her husband, Professor Robert G. Newcombe. She also works as a freelance writer.