Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Study on Change in the Attitude of Students towards English Language Learning

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Study on Change in the Attitude of Students towards English Language Learning

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to find out whether there is any change in the attitude of students towards English Language Learning (ELL) when they come for college education after completing the school education. The transformation in the attitude of students from school to college was examined in terms of marks, interest towards English language, self- motivation to learn the language, participation in the class, understanding the importance of English in securing a job and learner-centred language teaching methods that ensure more freedom to the learners. About 52 first year Mechanical Engineering students from Tamil medium stream took part in this research. To examine their shift in attitude towards ELL, an attitude questionnaire was administered and a semi-structured interview was conducted. The findings of the study indicated that there was a significant shift in their attitude towards ELL at their college level.

Keywords: attitude, English Language Learning, college level, school level

1. Introduction

Learning English language is considered as an important aspect at every stage of educational process. In general, the two different levels, both school and college, where English is taught to students in different learning situations, seem to serve two different ends. The language taught and learnt at these two levels is based on different needs and factors. For instance in schools, the language teaching focuses on factors like marks, completion of syllabus and practice or coaching for students to write examinations. In colleges, the language teaching lays emphasis on soft skills, communication skills and employability skills to meet the requirements of employers from companies and industries.

Students emerging from situations of these kinds as mentioned above, tend to have their own respective attitudes towards ELL. The attitude of students is determined by the impact created by various factors while learning the language. At school level, the attitude of the students towards language learning is different since their mind is preoccupied with examination pattern and marks they score in the examination. But when the same students come to college, with no proper evidence, it cannot be substantiated that they have the same kind of attitude towards language learning as they had in school. At the same time, it cannot be concluded that at college level their attitude will change completely. At college level, it is essential to impart language programmes by realizing the appropriate attitudes perceived by the students as there is a strong correlation between attitude and language learning process. Therefore, it will be immensely useful to know the attitude of the students at college level to plan and implement the language programme successfully.

2. Literature Review

Learners need to have positive attitude to acquire high level of proficiency in the target language. While defining 'attitude', Gardner (1985) says: "An individual's attitude is an evaluative reaction to some referent or attitude object on the basis of the individual's beliefs or opinions about the referent". He also adds that it is motivation that lies with attitudes towards other ethnicities and language learning contexts. According to Chapman and McKnight (2002), "Attitude is your general disposition - your mental "starting point" for viewing life and the people and events in it. From your viewpoint, attitude is the way you look at things mentally and it all starts inside your head. For others, your attitude is the overall mood they interpret from what they see you say and do." Baker (1988) argues that attitudes are dispositions to approach an object, a person, an institution or an event favourably or unfavourably.

The study on language attitudes was made by Gardner and Lambert (1972). They studied the interrelationships of different types of attitudes, and emphasized the significance of group-specific ones - the attitude learners possess towards the speakers of the language they intend to learn. …

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