A second language is a language that is learned in addition to a person's mother tongue, or first language. English is the second language learned by most people worldwide. These languages may be acquired by absorption, because it is spoken in the home, or actively pursued by taking courses. The more the language differs from a person's mother tongue in terms of alphabet and grammar, the more difficult it will be to learn. Modern technology, however, provides many resources to make the process easier and more fun.
Children can typically learn a second language much more easily than can adults, although there is no reason the latter cannot reach a proficient level in whichever language they wish to learn. Having a second — or third or fourth — language can be of great benefit when it comes to international business and travel. Learning a new language has also been associated with better reading ability in the mother tongue, improved test scores, and better performance at a college level, as it seems that the process improves thinking skills in general.
In the past, learning a new language likely meant sitting in a classroom and conjugating page after page of verbs. Today, there is more emphasis on achieving fluency and developing communication skills. This can make learning more fun, and the benefits become more obvious sooner. One way of learning a second language is through immersion, which involves being in an environment where that language is the only one that is used.
There is a wide range of resources available to the language learner. Computer programs and the Internet have rapidly become popular tools due to the wide array of valuable information, practice, and advice that they can offer to students. Some computer-based options for learning include online schools and classes that can be attended through the use of a webcam and microphone, self study courses with feedback given through email correspondence, and websites that answer users' questions.
Some students prefer the real classroom with a teacher who can give more immediate and personal responses and feedback. While in some classrooms, the teaching equipment remains limited to chalk and blackboard, many other facilities are equipped with interactive whiteboards, software and state-of-the-art recording capabilities. These tools can open up a world of learning, as students are able to take advantage of them to study the target language.