Research Topic

Culture and Second Language (L2) Learning in Migrants

About this Research Topic

Many individuals who migrate (e.g., migrant workers, refugees, and international students) have little or no exposure to the host country’s culture and language. This is especially true of people from developing countries who migrate to developed countries such as Canada, the United States, and Europe. When they arrive at the new country, they face many challenges including language and culture barriers (e.g., a lack of English language skills may lead to a low level of confidence in cultural immersion). In addition, many individuals, who learn the second language in their country of origin before they emigrate, learn it from classes without daily communication. Therefore, how can a person succeed when that person does not know how to speak effectively with other people on a daily basis?

Most research has focused on the fact that language proficiencies in the host society play a key role in most accounts of developmental, cognitive, and linguistic factors. However, there has been surprisingly little research conducted that examines how culture has an impact on language learning in the host society. For example, learning the host language varies among individuals with different levels of acculturation. The issues are, do sociocultural factors such as acculturation, cultural learning in, and cultural orientation of the values of a host country have an impact on immigrants’ second language proficiency beyond cognitive-linguistic variables traditionally used in the literature?

In an attempt to investigate these questions, this Research Topic examines theories of and research about socio-cultural factors in relation to migrants’ second language learning. There are many similarities between learning a language and learning culture. A very appropriate proxy for how familiar a person is with culture is his or her skill with the language, i.e. how he or she communicates verbally and in writing. Hence, one possible explanation for the relationship between language learning and culture is that it is easier for the immigrants to adapt to the host culture once they have a good grasp of the host society’s language. Understanding the patterns of language learning and cultural engagement in immigrants will lead to the development of improved programs to assist recent immigrants in becoming more successful learners.

We welcome papers that:
• Examine cultural factors (including acculturation strategy, the culture of origin, length of residency, distance from mother tongue to L2, previous experience on host counties, age of L2 and host cultural acquisition) and the influence of culture on second language learning in addition to cognitive-linguistic factors (e.g., vocabulary, decoding, and reading comprehension).
• Explore viewpoints and experiences of underrepresented populations (immigrants and international students) to better understand cultural influences on second language learning.
• Investigate the relationships among second language proficiency, socio-cultural, and psychological outcomes such as language confidence, cultural immersion, and self-esteem.

We would like to highlight the importance of the cultural and linguistic measurements from all manuscripts; either via quantitative approaches, or deeper qualitative observations, or other empirical studies that use a mixed-methods approach that employs qualitative methodologies to enrich the meaning of the quantitative data.


Keywords: second language learning, L2, acculturation, immigration, reading and literacy, linguistics, communication


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Many individuals who migrate (e.g., migrant workers, refugees, and international students) have little or no exposure to the host country’s culture and language. This is especially true of people from developing countries who migrate to developed countries such as Canada, the United States, and Europe. When they arrive at the new country, they face many challenges including language and culture barriers (e.g., a lack of English language skills may lead to a low level of confidence in cultural immersion). In addition, many individuals, who learn the second language in their country of origin before they emigrate, learn it from classes without daily communication. Therefore, how can a person succeed when that person does not know how to speak effectively with other people on a daily basis?

Most research has focused on the fact that language proficiencies in the host society play a key role in most accounts of developmental, cognitive, and linguistic factors. However, there has been surprisingly little research conducted that examines how culture has an impact on language learning in the host society. For example, learning the host language varies among individuals with different levels of acculturation. The issues are, do sociocultural factors such as acculturation, cultural learning in, and cultural orientation of the values of a host country have an impact on immigrants’ second language proficiency beyond cognitive-linguistic variables traditionally used in the literature?

In an attempt to investigate these questions, this Research Topic examines theories of and research about socio-cultural factors in relation to migrants’ second language learning. There are many similarities between learning a language and learning culture. A very appropriate proxy for how familiar a person is with culture is his or her skill with the language, i.e. how he or she communicates verbally and in writing. Hence, one possible explanation for the relationship between language learning and culture is that it is easier for the immigrants to adapt to the host culture once they have a good grasp of the host society’s language. Understanding the patterns of language learning and cultural engagement in immigrants will lead to the development of improved programs to assist recent immigrants in becoming more successful learners.

We welcome papers that:
• Examine cultural factors (including acculturation strategy, the culture of origin, length of residency, distance from mother tongue to L2, previous experience on host counties, age of L2 and host cultural acquisition) and the influence of culture on second language learning in addition to cognitive-linguistic factors (e.g., vocabulary, decoding, and reading comprehension).
• Explore viewpoints and experiences of underrepresented populations (immigrants and international students) to better understand cultural influences on second language learning.
• Investigate the relationships among second language proficiency, socio-cultural, and psychological outcomes such as language confidence, cultural immersion, and self-esteem.

We would like to highlight the importance of the cultural and linguistic measurements from all manuscripts; either via quantitative approaches, or deeper qualitative observations, or other empirical studies that use a mixed-methods approach that employs qualitative methodologies to enrich the meaning of the quantitative data.


Keywords: second language learning, L2, acculturation, immigration, reading and literacy, linguistics, communication


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

03 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

03 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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