Motivational Factors That Impact English Language Learning in an Arab Model School, Jordan: An Empirical Investigation

By Krishnan, K. Sarojani Devi; Al_Lafi, Qusai Ali Khalaf et al. | Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies, December 2013 | Go to article overview

Motivational Factors That Impact English Language Learning in an Arab Model School, Jordan: An Empirical Investigation


Krishnan, K. Sarojani Devi, Al_Lafi, Qusai Ali Khalaf, Pathan, Zahid Hussain, Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies


Abstract

Motivation is one of the key factors impacting successful English language learning in EFL settings. In order that language is acquired effectively by learners, it is essential that factors that motivate language learning be identified. In Jordan, mastering the English language has become a critical issue as students need to pass Tajwahi, the university entrance English test before furthering their studies at the tertiary level which will secure them a professional job and high status in society in the future. Hence, this study investigates the factors that motivate high school Jordanian students to learn English in an Arab Model School. The research design adopted was mixed-methods approach. The sample comprised 80 10th grade students. The socio-educational model by Gardner (1985) was used as the theoretical framework for this study. A questionnaire adapted from Gardner's (1985) Attitude/Motivation Test Battery was used to elicit information on motivational factors that influenced students' learning of English. Descriptive statistics was used to analyse the data. Interviews were also conducted with 10 students selected from the sample to gain in-depth insights into the above-mentioned motivating factors. The findings of the study depicted four factors in descending order of importance: parental encouragement, social factor, desire to learn English, and teacher's style. The findings were significant in providing information to the relevant authorities so that efforts can be taken as appropriate to motivate students to acquire the English language effectively for their educational and professional benefits in the future.

Keywords: language motivation, language learning, acquisition, EFL, proficiency

INTRODUCTION

Motivation is the key to learning (Dornyei, 2001). It refers to the inner source, desire, emotion, reason, need, impulse or purpose that moves an individual towards a particular action. Gardner (1985) defines second language acquisition (L2) motivation as "the extent to which an individual works or strives to learn the language because of a desire to do so and the satisfaction experienced in this activity" (p.10). Ormrod (2000) states that "motivation is something that energizes, directs and sustains behavior; it gets students moving, points them in a particular direction, and keeps them going". From the perspective of social psychology, Moiinvaziri (2008) claims that learning a target language is linked to the individual's social dispositions towards the target language community. In essence, Gardner (1990) describes motivation in second or foreign language learning as comprising three main elements, i.e. first, a desire to learn the language, second, effort expended towards learning the language and third, favourable attitudes towards learning the language. In other words, motivation in learning a foreign language is a process in which a learner has desire, persistence and a positive attitude to achieve the goal of learning the target language. Other definitions of motivation can be categorized under behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism (Brown, 2007). With reference to second language acquisition in particular, motivation is best classified as extrinsic versus intrinsic and integrative versus instrumental motivation. Gardner and Lambert (1972) suggests that a learner who is integratively-motivated learns a language to be identified with the wider target language community. An instrumentally-motivated learner, on the other hand, learns the target language to achieve functional goals such as obtaining a degree, gain social recognition or a good job. In their study in Canada, the findings suggest that learners of French language with an integrative motive achieved higher proficiency in language learning as compared to those who were instrumentally-motivated.

Research conducted by Gardner concentrated on motivation as well as other factors that impacted a learner's success in L2 acquisition . …

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