Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Motivation and English Language Teaching in Iran

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Motivation and English Language Teaching in Iran

Article excerpt

Abstract

The present article arises from a three-year cross sectional investigation into English language teaching in secondary schools in Iran and it aims to discuss the role of students' motivation within English language teaching in Iran.

In order to investigate this situation, a range of research instruments were used including a thorough review of literature, a desk based analysis of existing curriculum documentation, questionnaires and interviews completed by English language teachers in Iran and some of the authors of the curriculum and its linked textbooks.

It will be explained while the issue of motivation has been addressed and considered within the newly designed national curriculum in Iran, this issue appears to play no role in either the textbooks or the English language teaching programme.

Key words: Motivation; English Language Teaching; Iran

INTRODUCTION

Motivation is one of the complex and challenging issues facing teachers today. Indeed, Carrasquillo (1994) and Ellis (1994) have called it the most important variable in foreign language learning. The present article arises from a three-year cross sectional investigation into English Language Teaching (ELT) in secondary schools in Iran and the role of Communicative Pedagogy within this. The study examined the extent of communicative pedagogy within the Iranian national ELT curriculum, the ELT programme and to some extent the English language coursebooks used in secondary schools. This article sets out to examine one aspect of the study: the motivation for students to learn English in Iran.

In order to investigate this situation, a range of research instruments were used including a thorough review of literature, a desk based analysis of existing curriculum documentation, questionnaires and interviews completed by English language teachers in Iran and some of the authors of the curriculum and its linked textbooks.

The findings of the research suggested whilst the issue of motivation has been addressed and considered within the newly designed national curriculum in Iran, this issue appears to play no role in either the textbooks or the English language teaching programme.

1. THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN IRAN

To understand the main aspects of this research study, it is important first to provide some initial information about the educational system in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Schools in Iran are composed of three levels. The first level (primary school) includes five years of study. The students start school at this level when they are 6-7 years old. This is followed by middle school which is composed of three years of education. If the students pass the exams of the middle school successfully, they will then be qualified to enter into secondary school which involves four years of study. Basically, the students should study twelve years to be entitled to take the national university entrance exam in order to go to university. Concerning ELT, the English language is a foreign language in Iran and students are taught this subject from the first year of the middle school at the age of eleven. Therefore it is a compulsory element of the curriculum for seven years.

The schools are under the administration of the Ministry of Education. English language textbooks are designed by the Ministry of Education and there are no alternatives - all schools, both state and private, being compelled to use these textbooks.

At present the dominant trend in Iran is towards an increasing emphasis upon ELT. As a required course from the first year of middle school, English is taught for three to four hours per week. There is an extensive and still growing private sector of education in the country, a distinctive feature of which is introducing English at primary school and even pre-school levels. In almost all private schools English receives a great deal of attention and probably extra hours of practice (Aliakbari, 2004). …

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