Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

An Exploration of Tasks, Materials, Techniques, Factors, Principles and Other Classroom Variables Related to L2 Learning Motivation and the Learning Outcome

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

An Exploration of Tasks, Materials, Techniques, Factors, Principles and Other Classroom Variables Related to L2 Learning Motivation and the Learning Outcome

Article excerpt

Introduction

It is a widely accepted tenet that "motivation" is the basic ingredient of self-directed behavior and achievement. Similarly, most foreign language teachers and second language acquisition researchers would unreservedly agree that motivation is an essential element of successful language learning. The relationship between motivational levels and improved language proficiency has been thoroughly documented in a large number of research publications [Ushioda, "Motivation," Learner (2006); Gardner, "Motivation," Social (2001); Dornyei, Teaching; Dornyei and Schmidt (2001)] for almost forty years since Gardner and Lambert's pioneering work addressing learner attitudes, or Rubin's seminal study investigating the learning techniques deployed by the so-called "good language learner". Hence, motivation, a much-used and all-embracing term, has long been a buzzword in foreign language teaching and second language acquisition and learning research contexts, but what exactly does it consist of and is it similar in all types of learning contexts? How much can teachers really influence it? More importantly, how can we help to sustain it? What is its relationship with learner autonomy? (I have answered this question in my thesis project; the effects of L2 learning motivation on learners' autonomy).

Recently, in our educational system we have been investigating ways to enhance our learners' intrinsic motivation for language learning, and hopefully help to improve their language proficiency at the same time, rather than just watch them aiming to pass their final examination with a minimal degree of effort in order to further their academic career. It appears that many of them are, in fact, unprepared for the independent learning opportunities that embarking on a university degree offers, so a parallel concern is the gradual fostering of greater learner autonomy and meta-cognitive awareness as a means to motivate them further. As corroborated in a recent qualitative study which found learner independence to be the change most frequently reported by beginning university students "The transition from school to university brings with it a change of circumstances, demands and experiences which is likely to change the motivational profile of the student" (Bavendiek, 2004). This change in learning context requires adaptation on cognitive, meta-cognitive and social/affective levels as the move towards greater autonomy is not achieved magically without guidance or support. The ability to generate "internally" driven, or intrinsic, motivation for learning, rather than approaching learning tasks in response to "external" rewards such as passing grades or greater employment opportunities (motivation types which we are going to discuss about in further parts), is essential for developing greater learner autonomy (Dornyei, Motivational, 2001). Ushioda ["Socializing," "Motivation," "Language" (2006)] has also more recently highlighted the interactions between motivation and autonomy theory, practice and research traditions based on her previous 1996 publication linking the two, claiming that motivation needs to come from within and be selfdetermined as well as internally regulated for effective and autonomous language learning to take place.

My project, I mean the longitudinal action research project reported here is an attempt to explore and identify motivational types and levels. Our principal and ultimate objective is to reach a more precise understanding of what motivation involves for our own tertiary level learners.

Motivation has been the subject of research of many theoreticians, teachers and psychologists. Through their work, the concept of motivation could be easily defined. For example, Dornye claims that students who really want to learn the English language can cope with its studying without difficulties despite not having a special talent or an aptitude in foreign language acquisition. (2001).

So, up to now we found out that one of the significant aspects of human behavior is called motivation which has been studied enormously and it is called a dynamic process because we are trying extremely hard to perform a particular action. …

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