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Attitude, Parental Encouragement and Perception of the Importance of English in English Language Learning

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study investigated the students' perception of the importance of English language amongst a sample of 150 Upper Six students from a population of 755 students from six schools in the district of Marang, Terengganu. Also studied was whether their attitude towards learning English language is positive and whether they receive sufficient parental encouragement and support in their English language learning. It was found that the students were well aware of the importance of English language and also had a very positive attitude towards English Language learning. The parental encouragement and support scores also recorded a high total mean. In all three instances the sample means were well above the mid-point means indicating that the sample means fell in the higher halves of the mean scores. This implies that students are well aware of the importance of English language, are very positive about learning English language and receive more than adequate parental encouragement and support in their English language learning. Correlation analysis showed that there was a significant and positive relationship between the students' perception of the importance of English language and their attitude towards learning the language. Since the students' attitude and parental encouragement and support seem to be satisfactory, future researchers should investigate whether the curriculum offered is suitable for rural students.

Keywords: perception of importance, attitude, parental encouragement, importance of English, English language learning

1. Introduction

This study primarily focuses on the students' perception of the importance of English language and their attitude towards learning English language. Attitude, according to Spolsky (1989), fuels motivation which can enhance learning. However, the issues of motivation are beyond the scope of this study. This study checks upon the students' attitude towards English language learning only.

Roth (2008) mentioned that parental encouragement can shape the attitude of the students either positively or otherwise and also parental encouragement may have an effect on the motivational level of the students. This study investigates whether students receive adequate parental encouragement and support in their English language learning. How parental encouragement impacts on motivation is outside the scope of this study.

This study also investigated whether there was any significant relationship between students' perception of English and attitude towards learning English language. There are also other external variables such as suitability of curriculum and teaching styles in determining the attitude of the students. However these issues are not within the scope of this study.

Being an international language, great emphasis is given to its teaching as a foreign or second language throughout the world (Emir, 2010). Malaysia is no exception. Pennycook (1994), pointed out that proficiency in an international language is a must for any country wishing to gain power and prestige.

Grubbs et al., (2009), stated that students from universities all over the world, even though English language is not their daily medium of communication, study in English to enable them to compete in the global economy. According to Abdel-Rahman (2009), English and Mandarin Chinese are the two most widely used languages today. With English language becoming more significant each day due to globalization and increasing competition among nations in the world, there has been a renewed effort by the relevant authorities to improve the standard of the language in the country (Faradila, 2010). One of them is the introduction of English literature into the English language syllabus in schools (Shamsudin, 2009). The results, though, have not been encouraging. After about 11 years of

learning English Language (excluding tertiary learning), Malaysian graduates are found to be still not proficient in the language (Nor Hashimah et al. …