Loading...

How important is motivation in second language learning?

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2012 9 Pages

Didactics - English - Pedagogy, Literature Studies

Excerpt

Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Definition of motivation
2.1 Different kinds of motivation
2.1.1 Extrinsic / intrinsic motivation
2.1.2 Integrative/ instrumental motivation
2.1.3 Motivation for second language learners
2.2 Other individual differences

3. Motivation and teaching
3.1 Affect
3.2 Achievement
3.3 Attitude
3.4 Activities
3.5 Agency

4. Teaching English in Saarland

5. Conclusion

6. References

1. Introduction

Motivation in second language learning is an increasingly important area in applied linguistics. The current state of research is characterized by many different approaches, which have developed over time. Today there are still divided views about motivation. The social psychological approach dominated until the early 1990s. Criticized, later supplemented and eventually replaced by pedagogical and psychological concepts(Riemer 2010: 169). In order to understand the importance of motivation in second language learning it is important to look at different types of motivation after clarifying the definition of the term 'motivation' used in the text below. This paper has been divided into three parts. First, I will give a definition of the term motivation. Then I will focus on different kinds of motivation, especially the distinctions between motivation regarding learning in general by Deci and Ryan and motivation especially in language learning by Gardner. Finally, the practical part deals with motivation in second language classroom in Saarland. Thus, the main question addressed in this paper is: How important is motivation in second language learning?

2. Definition of motivation

The word ”m otivation” derives from the Latin word “movere” and stands for ' to move '. The commonly held ideas about motivation as, „ (…) something that gets us going,keeps us moving, and helps us get jobs done.“ (Paul R. Pintrich & Schunk Dale H., 1996: 4) are known by everyone. While a variety of definitions of the term “motivation” have been suggested, this paper will use the definition suggested by MC Donough (2007:369) who saw it as, „motivation is what moves us to act, in this context to learn English, to learn to teach English, or to teach it.“ (Mc Donough 2007: 369) He describes motivation as a “property of the learner” which can also come from a coach or a teacher. If people are less motivated it is possible to influence them. Especially in school, pupils are often unmotivated to follow the lesson wherefore their teachers should be able to motivate them. But before we are going to look at how teachers can motivate students, I would like to focus on different kinds of motivation.

2.1 Different kinds of motivation

Empirical evidence showed that students complete their tasks with different kinds of motivation, which will be explained more specify in the following sections.

2.1.1 Extrinsic / intrinsic motivation

The distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation goes back to Deci and Ryan and is a more general one, which referred to the source of the influence. This kind of motivation arises from the inner of a person and let this person feel better after completed tasks. In contrast, extrinsic motivation comes from outside. People work on tasks for a financial reward or to relate it to school, students want to pass an exam.

2.1.2 Integrative/ instrumental motivation

The distinction between integrative and instrumental motivation goes back to Gardner and has a direct relevance to language learning. A wish to become a member of the speech community using that language, Gardner described as integrative motivation. In contrast, the usefulness of a language to become successful in own culture is called instrumental motivation. Students, who learn a second language in order to achieve their school graduation requirement or just being able to read publications in this language. The key problem in Gardner's approach is the fact that evaluation of strength of motivation is based only on attitude questionnaires(Mc Donough, 2007: 369).

2.1.3 Motivation for second language learners

Harmer (2007) argues that according to the view of most researchers and methodologists, “intrinsic motivation produces better results than its extrinsic counterpart”. Indeed, it is hard to learn something if it is not liked by students. But if they have to learn something they are interested in, it will be easier for them to become better grades. The same goes for instrumental and integrative motivation. But I do not entirely agree with Harmer. Some students get better grades if they are single-minded, to be successful. Speaking personally, intrinsic motivation leads to better results but such a statement cannot be transferred to all people.

Another important statement to consider is by Dörnyei, “Motivation changes over time” (2001:21). Someone may start off with instrumental motivation but this develops later into integrative motivation. Thus, motivation is not fixed and can change in learning process. Just if students start with integrative motivation they can loose over time their interest in learning a second language and change their motivation in a instrumental one. Avoiding the second kind of change mentioned above, it is important to know which different factors can influence motivation.

2.2 Other individual differences

In his study, Harmer (2007) identifies two characteristics of factors which can influence motivation. On the one hand age, gender, goal and attitude of a person influences motivation as internal factors. On the other hand, external factors like expectations, rewards, confidence and positive or negative feedback by teachers can have an effect on the motivation of students. But more about motivation and teaching in the next section.

3. Motivation and teaching

[...]we forget that initial motivation to learn may be weak and die; alternatively it can be increased and directed into new channels (Rogers 1996:61).

According to the quotation by Rogers about motivation, an assertion is made that teachers are able to have an effect on students and their motivation. Harmer (2007:100-103) suggests five stages on which teachers can create interest for their lessons and keep their students motivated.

3.1 Affect

The first point Harmer mentioned is the influence which teachers can have on students if they care for them. For instance, to know a little bit more than names of schoolchildren help teachers to understand some strange behaviour. Another thing to consider is the offer for help with tasks. It shows that teachers care for students and their needs of help. Certainly, trying to help and give feedback and not just leave students alone with their tasks keep the interest in what is going on. Thus, pupils will stay longer motivated.

3.2 Achievement

Second point in Harmer's stages is implementation of students. It is no secret that success inspires and repeated failure demotivates. However, without attempt and with too easy tasks students will stop being motivated. If tasks are too difficult the same thing happens. Thus, teachers have to pay attention of an appropriate level of tests.

3.3 Attitude

The next point in Harmer's text The Practice of English Language Teaching is the individual opinion of schoolchildren about teachers. The first time teachers enter a classroom a decision is made by students if they will show respect or not. The clothing, standing point and kind of talking show students how confident teachers are. In other words, competence of a subject is required to give pupils enough tasks. In case of doing all tasks before time is running out, students have to stay motivated and not losing their discipline.

3.4 Activities

Another point of Harmer's stages is projects and tasks which students like to do. But teachers should be careful because every pupil has an own style and preferential for different tasks. Thus, teachers have to choose tasks very well and match different kinds of methodology to keep the motivation of their students.

3.5 Agency

The last stage Harmer mentioned is agency. Students have to be empowered to take a more active role in their learning process. Therefore, teachers should give their schoolchildren the opportunity to choose on their own. For instance, each student should decide in a fluency activity if a correction is desirable or not. This helps students to take some responsibility for their learning and to stay motivated over a long time.

These five stages by Harmer offer opportunities how teachers can motivate students in different ways. But to translate theory into practice is not that easy as we all know. In the following I will focus on the English classroom in Saarland.

[...]

Details

Pages
9
Year
2012
ISBN (eBook)
9783668464414
ISBN (Book)
9783668464421
File size
704 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v368012
Institution / College
Saarland University
Grade
2,0
Tags
Motivation Second language learning EFL Linguistics

Author

Previous

Title: How important is motivation in second language learning?