It is commonly believed that foreign language skills improve through social interaction with speakers of the language. However, there is little research addressing the issue of access to such interaction. This book explores this issue, examining longitudinal case studies of interaction between language learners and speakers of the target language within their informal social networks. It looks at the complex social and personal factors that influence language choice. Kurata reveals that even for motivated learners opportunities to use the target language are limited, and suggests factors that promote language use and opportunities for learning. She proposes ways around obstacles to opportunities for second language use and second language learning and sets out important implications for language learning in and outside classrooms. A central implication is the necessity for educators to increase their awareness about their students' self-image as an L2 user.The book features Japanese as the target language under discussion but the results are widely applicable in other language contexts, particularly in English-speaking countries.