Education free essay: Motivation for Learning Foreign Language and How to Keep Students Motivated
Motivation for Learning Foreign Language and How to Keep Students Motivated
Motivation for Learning Foreign Language
Winke (2005) defines motivation as being encouraged to do something. Language is described as the medium through which thoughts are expressed. It is a social thing through which individuals offer their experiences to others and obtain their experience in return (Nakata, 2006). Motivation to learn a foreign language is described as the learner’s orientation with the purpose of learning a second language (Norris-Holt, 2001). Motivation to learn a foreign can also be defined as “complex of constructs, involving both effort and desire, as well as a favorable attitude toward learning the language at hand” (Winke, 2005, p3). In other words, the learner is encouraged to learn a foreign language because of the underlying factors such as integration into the society using the language. Motivation in learning a foreign language happens when the learners find importance in learning the language of the society they live in. The learners use the language to exchange opinions, and express their thoughts with each other and thus, increasing their urge to learn the language autonomously and continuously.
Types of Motivation
Motivation can be categorized into integrative motivation and instrumental motivation. Integrative motivation is defined as the learner’s orientation towards learning second language (L2). Successful students in learning a foreign language tend to be those who admire people that speak the target language, like their culture and have the urge of integrating or becoming familiar with the society using the language. When an individual becomes a resident of a certain community that makes use of the target language in its daily interactions, integrative motivation becomes the key element in developing the level of language proficiency. It becomes mandatory for the individual to function socially within the community and becoming one of its members (Norris-Holt, 2001).
On the other hand, instrumental motivation is characterized by the need to gain something concrete or practical from the learning of a second language. The goal of acquiring second language in instrumental motivation is utilitarian, for instance, meeting the necessities for university or school graduation, application for a job, reading technical material, attaining higher social status, translation work, or request for high pay based on the language ability. Instrumental motivation is common in instances where the acquisition of a second language is not important for the learner’s social integration into the society (Norris-Holt, 2001).
Both instrumental and integrative motivations are important elements for success but it has been found that integrative motivation sustains long-term success in the learning of a second language. Research shows that integrative motivation is important in the formal learning setting or environment. It is important to note that both instrumental and integrative motivations are not necessarily mutually limited. Learners rarely choose one type of motivation when studying a second language. Instead, the learners combine both orientations. For instance, international students living in the United States learn English for academic reasons and at the same time, they desire to become incorporated with the culture and the people of the country. Motivation is an essential factor in second language achievement. Thus, it is crucial to determine the combination and form of motivation that helps in the effective acquisition of a foreign language (Norris-Holt, 2001).
Gardner’s Socio-Educational Model
The model identifies factors that are interrelated in learning a second language. It is important to note that motivation to learn a second language is one variable and when combined with other factors, it influences the learner’s success. The work of Gardner focuses on foreign language acquisition in a language classroom. The model tries to interconnect four characteristics of second language acquisition and they include individual learner differences, cultural and social milieu, linguistic outcomes, and the context/setting in which the learning takes place (Norris-Holt, 2001).
Cultural and Social Milieu
The cultural or social milieu refers to the environment or the surroundings in which the individual is located, thus, they determine the individual’s beliefs about the other language and culture. The beliefs make considerable effect on the acquisition of second language. For instance, in the monocultural setting such as that of Britain, many people believe that it is not important to study another language and the minority groups are supposed to incorporate and become proficient in the country’s dominant language (Norris-Holt, 2001).
Individual Differences and the Context/Setting in Which the Learning Occurs
The four individual differences are also believed to have a considerable impact in the acquisition of a second language. They include variables such as language aptitude, situational anxiety, motivation, and intelligence. These variables are closely interconnected with conext/setting in which the learning occurs. In this regard, two settings or contexts are identified and they include the unstructured acquisition of a language in a natural setting and the formal instruction in the classroom. The effects of individual difference variables vary with the context or setting. For instance, aptitude and intelligence play a significant role in learning in a formal setting and at the same it exerts a weaker influence in the informal setting. Both settings are influenced equally by the motivation and situational variables (Norris-Holt, 2001).
Linguistic and Non-linguistic Outcomes
The last factor is the non-linguistic and linguistic results of the learning occurrence. Linguistic outcome is defined as the actual language skills and language knowledge. In entails test indicators such as the general proficiency tests and course grades. Non-linguistic results express the individual’s approach towards cultural beliefs and values, particularly towards the targeted language society. It is worth noting that those motivated to incorporate both non-linguistic and linguistic “outcomes of the learning experience will attain a higher degree of L2 proficiency and more desirable attitudes” (Norris-Holt, 2001).
From the Gardner’s Socio-Educational model, motivation is thought to have three elements. These three elements include affect, desire, and effort. Effort expresses the time spent or used in learning the language and the learner’s drive. Desire refers to level to which the learner wishes to become proficient or skillful in the language. Affect expresses the learner’s reaction towards learning the language (the reaction in this case is emotional) (Norris-Holt, 2001).
Ways of Motivating
From the research findings on the nature of motivation and the impact that it makes on the students’ learning perceptions, it is clear that there are clear aspects of motivation that define the ways from which it must be approached. Without a consideration of the specifics of motivation in defining a successful approach to assist foreign language student, it may not be possible to create the change of learning outcomes as expected in content based instruction approach. It is therefore important that the correct strategy to effect motivation in a foreign language classroom is adopted to attain the success desired of such an approach (Root, 1999). One of the main aspects of motivation is the definition of the goal, which must be clearly enumerated in the foreign language classroom. Changing the students’ mindset to embrace a totally different language from their mother tongue must define the goal of such studies and generate the desired trajectories. Secondly, specific effort must be cultivated in form of behavior contributions in order to achieve the identified goal. Thirdly, there must be a deliberate desire to achieve the outlined goal for studying the foreign language among all the students, which acts as an important determinant of attitude change. Finally, motivation must cultivate a positive attitude in order to spur the urge to keep studying the foreign language (Gardner, 1985). Apparently, the clarification of the aspects of motivation in a foreign language classroom will facilitate developing the best approach to keep students at pace with the focus needed to sustain attachment and concentration in the classroom.
The most applicable motivation interventions in a foreign language classroom have been developed using the underlying concept of spurring and sustaining aspects of motivation. They mainly target the behavioral framework of approach in influencing students to stay focused in learning the foreign language. According to Crookes and Schmidt (1991), motivation can be imparted as a skill in the learning process where students are guided to stick to internal and external attitude. The authors reckon that the most important aspect of motivation is captured not only by taking care of intrinsic factors alone but extrinsic factors that determine the attitudes and perceptions held by the foreign language learners. Internal factors are handled by capturing interest in the foreign language, creating meaning and relevance, establishment of success trajectories from the learning and outcomes. From these insights, it is possible for the instructor to develop the desirable influence on the student that is manifested in not only willful enrolment but persistence and proactive attitude (Root, 1999).
General practical applications and approaches of motivation in a foreign language classroom have been designed through research. These approaches as observed in MacIntyre, Moore and Noels (2010) are designed to ensure undivided attention in a foreign language or any other classroom. Alexenoamen (2009) provides a number of practical interventions that can be implemented in various learning assignments that attempt to maintain interest and commitment among the students. One of the interventions is grouped work or paired work in class where students are encouraged through the interest of their peers inside the classroom. This approach is based on the premise that students have different learning capabilities and that the challenge established when they are grouped together in the learning environment acts as a motivation to stay focused in the classroom. Additionally, the author reckons that the sitting arrangement inside the classroom is important in the establishment of appropriate learning outcomes. Language lessons are dependent on the environment that the learner is exposed to, which implies that the sitting arrangement is important in the creation of learning coherence. Sitting patterns that motivate interest and focus may involve elimination of obstructions and minimizing movements inside the classroom while the lesson is in progress.
Alexenoamen (2009) also reckons that the correction of errors made by students is very important in languages than in many other subjects. It is therefore important that students are kept at pace with the learning outcomes at the most appropriate instance in order to develop interest and commitment from avoidance of discouragement occasioned by such mistakes. In addition, the author also reckons that the design of the lesson by the teacher must employ interesting interjections into the lesson to maintain top level focus from the students. Keeping the lesson as lively as possible through such interventions as role plays is important for student’s learning process. Interest can also be developed by the instructor through a variety of interventions that include visual aides in the delivery of content, which facilitate the breaking of monotony and boredom. In a similar effect, the application of audio tools in the delivery of the class work is important in the learning outcomes.
In an attempt to make sure that the delivery of the material is in coherence with the expectations of a motivated classroom, Root (1999) reckons that the main areas of the motivation concept must be summarized in as brief concept as possible. Firstly, the instruction delivery must be taken care of which involves the realignment of the instructor’s approach and attitudes with the concepts outlined above. As an illustration, notes giving and introduction of visual aides alongside application of dialogue among other interest generating interventions are entirely dependent on the instructor. Content delivered must be organized from simpler to complex language levels to avoid loss of interest and keep students at pace with their own level of understanding. Assignments given must also comply with the focus spurring concept of foreign language delivery. Student assessment in the same level of importance is expected to initiate motivation in the classroom, which implies that from the design of the examination to delivery of results must be captured in the motivational concept.
In conclusion, ways of motivating students must be prompted by the need to develop a balance on the various perspectives that highlight the main motivation concepts outlined in foreign language studies. It is important that the learner-instructor relationship is based established on the understanding of the most important factors of motivation. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors that determine motivation must be understood to develop the appropriate environment in which the students can be assisted to exploit their potential in learning outcomes. To that end, teacher specific and student specific approaches must be brought out in a balanced measure in order to ensure that the student remains motivated throughout the learning process (Root, 2009).
Alexeamen (2009) “Ways of Motivating EFL/ESL Students in the Classroom” Retrieved from: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/alexenoamen/ways-motivating-efl-esl-students-classroom
Gardner, R. C. (1985) Social psychology and second language learning: The role of attitudes and motivation. London, UK: Edward Arnold
Gonzales, R. (2010) “Motivation Orientation in Foreign Language Learning: The Case of Filipino Foreign Language Learners,” TESOL Journal, 3:3-28
MacIntyre, P., Moore, B. & Noels, K. (2010) “Perspectives on Motivation in Second Language Acquisition: Lessons from the Ryoanji Garden” Retrieved from: http://www.lingref.com/cpp/slrf/2008/paper2381.pdf
Nakata, Y. (2006). Motivation and experience in foreign language learning. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
Norris-Holt, J. (2001). Motivation as a contributing factor in second language acquisition. The Internet TESL Journal, 7(6). Retrieved from http://iteslj.org/Articles/Norris-Motivation.html
Root, E. (1999) “Motivation and Learning Strategies in a Foreign Language Setting: A Look at a Learner of Korean,” Retrieved from: http://www.carla.umn.edu/resources/working-papers/documents/WP14_Learner_of_Korean.pdf
Winke, P. M. (2005). Promoting motivation in the foreign language classroom. Center for Language Education and Research, 9(2), 1-12.
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