Language and Literature
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The secrets of success in learning a second language may be simpler than we thought Md. Shayeekh-Us-Saleheen
Many years of interviewing successful people—students, doctors, engineers, government leaders and others—we have come to realize that there is a fine line between them and the rest of the pack. We call this line the winner’s edge. This edge is not the result of a privileged environment, family background, financial support or having a high I.Q. The key to the winner’s edge, we have found, are motivation and attitude, personality factors within a person that contribute in someway to the success of language learning .The reason is also similar in the case of second language learner. There is no simple and single criterion according to which one can be said to learn second language. But attitude, an individual variation in second language performance and very much related to motivation may act as a catalyst in the success of learning second language.
This paper aims to look into the magnitude and role of attitudes and motivation in second language learning. Moreover, it will focus on the responsibilities of teachers who can act as a facilitator to show their students the way to success through their (students’) attitude and motivation.
3. Theoretical background:
The theoretical climate of earliest seventies and late sixties provided the rationale for the role of attitudes and motivation in second language learning. Carroll (1962 in Spolsky, 1989.p.148)1 “suggested that the critical factors are aptitude, attitude, opportunity or method, and motivation, the latter predicting the amount of time a learner would apply to the task of language learning.”
Carroll’s formula may be rewritten as a set of graded conditions:
Attitude condition (typical, graded): A learner’s attitudes affect the development of motivation. Motivation condition (typical, graded): The more motivation a learner has the more time he or she will spend learning an aspect of a second language. In the earliest statements on motivation in second language learning, Gardner and Lambert (1959 in Spolsky, 1989.p. 149) suggested that an individual’s motivation to learn a second language is controlled by his “attitudes towards the other group in particular and by his orientation to the learning task itself.” Of all school subjects, language learning is the one where attitude is especially relevant: Gardner points out that: “Language courses are different from other curriculum topics. They require that the individual incorporates elements from another culture. As a consequence, reactions to the other culture become important considerations. Furthermore, because the material is not merely an extension of the students’ own cultural heritage, the dynamics of the classroom and the methodology assume greater importance than they do in other school topics.” (Gardner 1985:8 in Spolsky, 1989:149) 1. Spolsky, Bernard: Conditions for Second Language Learning: Introduction to a General Theory. (Oxford: OUP, 1989)
Attitudes do not have direct influence on learning, but they lead to Motivation which does: “Motivation in the present context refers to the combination of effort plus desire to achieve the goal of learning plus favourable attitudes towards learning the language.” Motivation itself is a complex construct, as Gardner remarks: “. . . motivation involves four aspects, a goal, effortful behaviour, a desire to attain the goal and favourable attitudes towards the activity in question. These four aspects are not unidimensional . . .”
4. Literature survey and significance:
For Gardner and Lambert, motivation comes from attitude. Attitude itself is to be measured by asking a subject to evaluate an object: “. . . from an operational point of view, an individual’s attitude is an evaluative reaction to some referent or attitude object, inferred on the basis of the individual’s beliefs or opinions about the referent”. (Spolsky, 1989.p. 149)
In practical terms, then, an attitude is a construct derived from a subject’s answers to a number of questions about an object. Its establishment is subject to all the normal worries of the validity of the instrument used and of the honesty of the subject’s answers to the questions.
There are two significant kinds of attitude, Gardner believes: attitudes to the people who speak the target language, and attitudes to the practical use to which the learner assumes he or she can put the language being learned. Gardner suggests that the effects of the two kinds of attitude are different: “whereas the first set of attitudes is fairly consistently related to achievement, the second shows a more variable set of relationships”. (Spolsky, 1989.p. 149)
Role of Motivation and Attitude:
“Personality factors within a person that contribute in someway to the success of language learning are the intrinsic faces, the first facet of the cognitive domain of language learning of affectivity. In order to find solutions to confusing problems in the teaching of second language, researchers has been increasing awareness of the necessity to examine human behaviour. In second language learning learners need to be receptive both to those with whom they are communicating and to the language itself, responsive to persons and to the context of communication, and to place a certain value on the communicative act of interpersonal exchange.” (Brown, 1994.p. 136)2.
To be receptive, responsive and communicative one must initiate one’s inner drive that moves one to a particular action, and motivation is commonly thought of as an inner drive that moves one to a particular action. 2. Brown, H. Douglas. Principles of language learning and teaching. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prenctice Hall Regents, 1994) Students, all over the world, are usually tended to become escapist when they do not enjoy classroom. Especially in our country we are still struggling to apply communicative approach in every level of teaching from primary to university education due to inadequate teacher training, inadequate teacher training center, lack of proper educational planning and implementation. No way can we say that applying communicative approach in teaching means making classroom effective and enjoyable, but it is supposed that interactive teaching would be more effective than traditional teaching which is based on lecture only. But if we can motivate students about their future plan and the effectiveness of learning second language in developing their career they may have an effort to accept even an uninteresting teaching as an interesting one.
Regarding this we can refer instrumental motivation to acquire a language as means for attaining instrumental goals: developing a career, studying attentively, reading scientific and industrial texts to develop vocabulary, translation, and so on. When integrative motivation works learners yearn to integrate themselves within the culture of second language society in order to identify themselves with that society, and try to become natural in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in second language. Many of Lambert’s studies (Lambert 1972) and one study by Spolksy (1969) found that integrative motivation generally accompanied higher scores on proficiency tests in a foreign language. The conclusion from these studies was that integrative motivation may indeed be an important requirement for successful language learning.
“And some teachers and researchers have even gone so far as to claim that integrative motivation is absolutely essential for successful second language learning.” (Brown, 1994.p.154). So, in order to motivate students there is no alternative to teachers’ effort. Soon researchers began to accumulate evidences in favour of such claim. Brown (1994) says: Yasmeen Lukmani (1972) demonstrated that among Marathi-speaking Indian students learning English in India, those with higher instrumental motivation scored higher in tests of English proficiency. Braj Kachru (1977, 1992) has noted that Indian English is but one example of a variety of Englishes, which, especially in Third World countries where English has become an international language, can be acquired very successfully for instrumental reasons alone.
However, Second language learning is sometimes motivated by attitudes that are exclusively instrumental or exclusively integrative. Like all aspects of the development of cognition and affect in human beings, attitudes, develop early in childhood. Attitudes are the result of parents’ and peers’ attitudes. It is a contact with people who are “different” in any number of ways, and interacting affective factors in the human experience. These attitudes build a part of one’s perception of self, one’s definition of self of others, and of the society and culture in which one is living.
Relationship between attitude and motivation in second language learning and acquisition
Gardner and Lambert (1972) systematically attempts to examine the effect of attitudes on language learning. They have gone through the interrelationships of a number of different types of attitudes, and have defined motivation as a construct made up of certain attitudes. The most important of these is group-specific. This is the attitude learners have toward the members of the cultural group whose language they are learning. (Brown, 1994).
Therefore, in Gardner and Lambert’s model, an English-speaking Canadian’s positive attitude toward French- Canadians—a desire to understand them, and to empathize with them—will lead to high integrative motivation to learn French. That attitude is a factor of learners’ attitudes toward their own native culture, their degree of ethnocentrism, and the extent to which they prefer their own language over the one they are learning as a second language. “Among the Canadian subjects Gardner and Lambert distinguished between attitudes toward French-Canadians and attitudes toward people from France.” (Brown, 1994.p.168).
It seems naturally clear that second language learners benefit from positive attitudes .Yet the teacher needs to be aware that everyone has both positive and negative attitudes. Negative attitudes’ Learners can go through the ladder of affectivity through awareness and responding, to valuing, and finally to a planned and methodical understanding and positive reception of the foreign culture. Attitudinal factors that relate to second language acquisition will be those that perform one or both of two functions. First, they will be factors that encourage intake. Others have said this before, for example: “motivational variables… determine whether or not the student avails himself of… informal language contexts” (Gardner, Smythe, Clement, and Gliksman, 1976, in Dulay and Burt, 1994, p.43).3
3. Dulay and Burt: Language Two. (New York: OUP, 1994)
They are simply factors that encourage acquirers to communicate with speakers of the target language, and thereby obtain the necessary input, or intake, for language acquisition.
Second, attitudinal factors relating to acquisition will be those that enable the performer to utilize the language heard for acquisition. Simply hearing a second language with understanding appears to be necessary but is not sufficient for acquisition to take place. The acquirer must not only understand the input but must also, in a sense, be “open” to it. Attitude toward the classroom and teacher may relate to both acquisition and learning. The student who feels at ease in the classroom and likes the teacher may seek out intake by volunteering (he may be a “high input generator”; Seliger, 1977, p.35, in Allwright, Dick, and Kathleen M. Bailey, 1991, p.23)4, and may be more accepting of the teacher as a source of intake. Positive attitudes toward the classroom and teacher may also be manifestations of self-confidence and/or integrative motivation, and for this reason may also relate to acquisition. In addition, we would expect students with such attitudes to apply themselves more, resulting in more learning.
4. Allwright, Dick, and Kathleen M. Bailey: Focus on the Language Classroom: An Introduction to Classroom Research for Language Teachers. (Cambridge University Press, 40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211 (hardback, ISBN-0-521-26279-8; paperback, ISBN-0-521-26909-1), 1991)
The relationship between attitude and proficiency in second language will be strongest when (a) subjects or performers have had sufficient intake for acquisition (Oller, 1977, Hypothesis 6, in Krashen, Stephen, D., 1981)5 and (b) when Monitor-free measures of proficiency are used. Attitudinal effects are predicted to be present whenever any acquired competence at all is used in performance.
Integrative motivation has been found to relate to second language proficiency in situations where intake is available, in the Canadian Anglophone situation, and in the ESL situation in the United States. To briefly review the Canadian situation, Gardner and Lambert (1959, in Krashen, Stephen, D., 1981), using seventy-five eleventh-grade high school students in Montreal, found integrative motivation to be a stronger predictor of French achievement than instrumental motivation. Gardner (1960, p. 215) expanded these results with eighty-three tenth-grade students of French. Moreover, he concluded that the integrative motivation was especially important “for the development of communicative skills”.
5. Krashen, Stephen D. Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Language teaching methodology series. (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1981)
In another study dealing with French in Toronto, Bialystok and Fröhlich (1977) reported that “evaluation of the learning situation” was a good predictor of reading comprehension (along with integrative motivation and motivational intensity) among ninth- and tenth-graders. Gardner et al. (1976) found that “evaluative reactions to the learning situation” were associated with both “speech” and grades in levels 7 and 11 in French as a second language in Canada. The relationship with grades tended to be higher than with speech, suggesting that this attitude is related to learning as well as to acquisition. 5. Hypotheses:
Two assumptions were taken into account regarding this research The secrets of success in learning a second language may be the result of a) Students’ attitude and motivation
b) Teachers’ effort to let students be confident about their attitude and motivation.
To study the present scenario of students’ performance the researcher used questionnaire and interviews. 7. Participants
As a part of research the researcher collected data from 12 private universities. The participants of this study were 30 teachers. The 30 English teacher-participants were all faculty members at different private universities, with their language teaching experience ranging from six months to 20 years. (see Appendix 1)
8. Ingredients in a winning attitude and teacher’s role to make students confident There are many ingredients in a winning attitude, but the most important is being honest with our self. To do this, we must follow three major precepts: a. Assumption of responsibility for our actions: The Bible tells us that as we sow, we reap. Scientists talk of cause and effect. The meaning is the same: our rewards depend on the contributions we make. We ourselves must take the credit or the blame for our place in life. Responsible people look at the shackles they’ve placed upon themselves and, in a moment of truth, declare their independence:
Joe Sorrentino grew up in an inner-city neighborhood, became a teen-age gang leader and served time in a reform school. Remembering a seventh-grade teacher’s confidence in his academic aptitude and personal attitude, he realized that, despite his poor high-school record, his only hope for success was through education. He returned to night school at age 20, went on to the University of California where he graduated, and then finished at Harvard Law School. He became an outstanding juvenile-court judge in Los Angeles. None of this would have happened if Joe Sorrentino had not had the courage to alter his destiny.’
(Case study, Readers Digest, p.1983:57)6 6. Case study, Readers Digest, p.1983:57
b. We should find our own gifts and follow our own goals:
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius tells his son: “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Polonius was advising his son to live according to his own deepest convictions and abilities—daring to be different, while respecting the rights of others. Most of us, however, find our selves in a quandary. How do we really want to spend our lives? How do we know we have selected the career or the proper goals? Our research and experience corroborate the importance of learning what we are “good at,” rather than letting parents, teachers, friends or economics make our long-range plans for us.
We should introduce our children to a wide mix of educational-cultural activities to stimulate their interests and help them identify possible avocations and careers. We ought to make it a primary goal to help our children discover their inherent gifts so that they can blend these with acquired skills and knowledge to achieve maxi mum fulfillment.
c. We must not escape—adapt
The key to success, to mental and physical health, is adaptability. Under pressure, many of us become depressed; lose our incentive and excitement about life. We tend to drink more, smoke more or rely on tranquilizers to help us cope. While alcohol and other anti-anxiety drugs temporarily reduce emotional reactions to threats of pain -or failure, they also interfere with our ability to learn- to tolerate these stresses. One of the best ways to adapt to the many stresses of life is simply to accept them as normal. The adversity and failures in our lives, if we view them as corrective feed back, serve to develop in us an immunity against the adverse responses to stress. In developing our critical attitudes for success, we must recognize that there is more freedom in society than ever before and more opportunity to express one’s talents and Opinions. Those who feel that they are forced to do things or to escape are not in control of their lives.
Winners take the talent or potential they were born with and use it fully toward the purpose that makes them feel worthwhile. In short, losers let life happen to them; winners make it happen. Teachers should try to make the students understand accordingly. A teacher should keep constantly in mind the fact that no persons can ever be alike. But at the same time there are some great similarities in human beings. An effective teacher should understand the similarities, and recognize the differences that exist between individuals. Again, he/she should not teach in exactly same way as anyone else teaches. He is aware of the similarities and differences among individual students. He selects his classroom activities accordingly, but his selections must differ from those of other teachers. In that sense, each effective teacher is an artist. As an artist only he can mould the attitudes of a student to learning, to a language, and to its speakers which can make a winner- a successful language learner.