Over the past several decades+ there has been a growing interest in learning the English language in colleges and universities throughout Jordan. However, the real reasons for college students choosing English as a major do not seem to be clear. The researcher felt the need to investigate such reasons as well as describe the attitudes that students have towards learning English and how these attitudes might impact the outcomes of the learning process. The purpose of this paper is to determine what attitudes college students at Irbid University college in Jordan have towards learning English as a foreign language. The 45 female students involved in this project were from Irbid University College. The students were asked to explain why they wished to become English teachers. Notes were taken during these interviews and the responses were recorded. A student survey was designed and distributed to all 45 female students at the college and detailed instructions were given. The students' reasons for studying English revealed a wide array of attitudes and motivations. Surprisingly, almost half of the students exhibited negative attitudes towards learning English and entering the teaching profession. Other students demonstrated more positive attitudes.
Keywords: Language attitudes, Jordanian college students, English as a foreign language, attitude components+ attitude functions.
Importance of English Today
There is absolutely no doubt that English is the international language in the world today, it is second only to Mandarin Chinese in terms of the number of people who speak it, but second to none in terms of the number of people learning it. It is currently the primary language used on the World Wide Web, in the political and business arenas. It has even become the language of today's pop culture. Therefore, no one disagrees that learning English is important.
While English may not have as large a number of speakers as Mandarin it is still more widespread and here comes its importance. Mandarin Chinese is hardly spoken outside the Chinese communities, however in many regions of the world where English is not the native language, it is still widely spoken and integrated in the curricula of educational institutions. In many countries Malaysia, for example, where there are various ethnic groups with their own unique language, English is used as a means of communication among all of them. So the importance of English doesn't lie in the number of people who speak it but in the way they use it.
Today the USA's influence on world information is dominant, English, being the native language of the country, the same is true for Britain. Music and other types of media that come out of these two countries are broadcast around the world. Most of the world's pop stars record English albums, which are played and requested in all parts of the world. With the world steadily heading towards economic globalization it is essential that English is taught and understood around the world so that the average person can keep up with current world issues.
Definitions of Attitude
Since this paper deals primarily with "attitudes", it is very crucial to define this term. Soon after reviewing the existing literature, it was discovered that it is not an easy task to determine what "attitude" means exactly. However, an attempt was made to summarize the most commonly used definitions as employed by linguists and psychologists today. They include the following: (Hogg and Vaughan 2005, 150151), provide several apparently different, but certainly inter-related definitions:
* "Attitudes are associations between attitude objects (virtually any aspect of the social world) and evaluations of those objects".
* "Attitudes are lasting evaluations of various aspects of the social world-evaluations that are stored in memory".
* An attitude is a mental and neural state of …