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I Международная научно-практическая Интернет-конференция «Актуальные вопросы повышения конкурентоспособности государства, бизнеса и образования в современных экономических условиях»(Полтава, 14?15 февраля 2013г.)
I Международная научно-практическая конференция «Лингвокогнитология и языковые структуры» (Днепропетровск, 14-15 февраля 2013г.)
Региональная научно-методическая конференция для студентов, аспирантов, молодых учёных «Язык и мир: современные тенденции преподавания иностранных языков в высшей школе» (Днепродзержинск, 20-21 февраля 2013г.)
IV Международная научно-практическая конференция молодых ученых и студентов «Стратегия экономического развития стран в условиях глобализации» (Днепропетровск, 15-16 марта 2013г.)
VIII Международная научно-практическая Интернет-конференция «Альянс наук: ученый – ученому» (28–29 марта 2013г.)
Региональная студенческая научно-практическая конференция «Актуальные исследования в сфере социально-экономических, технических и естественных наук и новейших технологий» (Днепропетровск, 4?5 апреля 2013г.)
V Международная научно-практическая конференция «Проблемы и пути совершенствования экономического механизма предпринимательской деятельности» (Желтые Воды, 4?5 апреля 2013г.)
Всеукраинская научно-практическая конференция «Научно-методические подходы к преподаванию управленческих дисциплин в контексте требований рынка труда» (Днепропетровск, 11-12 апреля 2013г.)
VІ Всеукраинская научно-методическая конференция «Восточные славяне: история, язык, культура, перевод» (Днепродзержинск, 17-18 апреля 2013г.)
VIII Международная научно-практическая Интернет-конференция «Спецпроект: анализ научных исследований» (30–31 мая 2013г.)
Всеукраинская научно-практическая конференция «Актуальные проблемы преподавания иностранных языков для профессионального общения» (Днепропетровск, 7–8 июня 2013г.)
V Международная научно-практическая Интернет-конференция «Качество экономического развития: глобальные и локальные аспекты» (17–18 июня 2013г.)
IX Международная научно-практическая конференция «Наука в информационном пространстве» (10–11 октября 2013г.)
К.п.н. Бузина Ю.Н.
Российская Экономическая Академия им. Г.В.Плеханова , Россия
THE ROLE OF MOTIVATION IN TEACHING FOREIGN LANGUAGES
There is general agreement among language teaching methodologists and practitioners alike that there are no easy answers to the question of what it is that determines success in the foreign language class. I will stress the role in these processes of the positive and negative thoughts of both learners and teachers, and I will talk about the significant influence that higher order beliefs, beliefs about capabilities and beliefs about identity, have on the students' learning outcomes, and in particular in determining their motivation and influencing their self esteem.
Different attitudes to studying English reflect the two main kinds of motivation in foreign language learning: instrumental and integrative. When anyone learns a foreign language instrumentally, he needs it for operational purposes—to be able to read books in the new language, to be able to communicate with other speakers of that language. The tourist, the salesman, the science student are clearly motivated to learn English instrumentally. When anyone learns a foreign language for integrative purposes, he is trying to identify much more closely with a speech community which uses that language variety; he wants to feel at home in it, he tries to understand the attitudes and the world view of that community. The immigrant in Britain and the second language speaker of English, though gaining mastery of different varieties of English, are both learning English for integrative purposes.
In a second language situation, English is the language of the mass media: newspapers, radio and television are largely English media. English is also the language of official institutions—of law courts, local and central government—and of education. It is also the language of large commercial and industrial organisations. Clearly, a good command of English in a second language situation is the passport to social and economic advancement, and the successful user of the appropriate variety of English identifies himself as a successful, integrated member of that language community. It can be seen, then, that the Chinese Singaporean is motivated to learn English for integrative purposes, but it will be English of the South-east Asian variety which achieves his aim, rather than British, American or Australian varieties.
Although, in some second language situations, the official propagation of a local variety of English is often opposed, it is educationally unrealistic to take any variety as a goal other than the local one. It is the model of pronunciation and usage which surrounds the second language learner: its features reflect the influences of his native language, and make it easier to learn than, say, British English. And in the very rare events of a second language learner achieving a perfect command of British English he runs the risk of ridicule and even rejection by his fellows. At the other extreme, the learner who is satisfied with a narrow local dialect runs the risk of losing international communicability.
Beliefs are strong perceptual filters. They serve as explanations for what has happened and they give us a basis for future behaviour. This is why sports professionals, for example, regularly work on the development of positive beliefs.
Let’s examine three specific questions in order to discuss the systemic dynamics of beliefs on the outcomes of the teaching / learning process:
- Why do beliefs have such a powerful effect on students' learning? - How are beliefs formed and maintained? - What can teachers do to influence their students' beliefs in a respectful and positive way?
In order to answer the first question, we need to consider the complexity of human thinking from a systemic point of view. Human thinking is organized on different logical levels. The basic level of influence on an individual's thinking is his or her environment.
What are the factors that can be regarded as environment in the foreign-language class? Examples include the teaching materials, the availability and quality of technical equipment, the seating arrangement, the size of the classroom and the number of students, and the structure of the timetable. These are all important factors, although some may be more influential than others. The teacher and the students (inter)act in that classroom environment through their behaviour. Behaviour, in this case, does not mean only disciplinary behaviour, although any teacher of, for example, teenager learners will certainly agree that this is an important element that does have a serious impact on learning outcomes. Behaviour implies all the teaching and learning routines, everything that the teacher and students do in the foreign language class. The students' behaviour is, to a certain degree, influenced by their capabilities. A student who has efficient learning strategies will learn better and faster than a student who lacks them. The students' capabilities, in turn, are organised by their belief systems, and these are influenced by their identity, their sense of who they are.
This model is a hierarchical system. The higher the logical level that we operate on, the more influential it becomes on the outcome of a thinking process or an act of communication. Change on a lower level might influence a higher one, but change on a higher level will always have some effect also on the levels below. Somebody might study under very poor environmental conditions and might not have very effective behavioural and mental strategies. Such a person might still be successful in achieving the planned outcome as long as they have strong and supportive beliefs that they can be successful and an identity that is in line with the outcome they want to achieve. This person will probably also gradually develop proper behavioural procedures and find the proper mental strategies to help to achieve the aim.
The argument can also be turned on its head: students in the most comfortable classroom with the most modern equipment will nevertheless remain unsuccessful if their level of motivation is low or if they identify themselves as poor foreign language learners. This will be the case in spite of attempts by the teacher to teach them efficient behavioural routines and learning strategies.
Let us now turn to the second question, that of how beliefs are formed and maintained. Beliefs have an important function because they serve as our guiding principles. They are generalizations about cause and effect, and they influence our inner representation oof the world around us. They help us to make sense of that world, and they determine how we think and how we act. There are certain beliefs that have a high level of testability and stability. These are beliefs about the physical world. They are based on laws of nature. We do not need to find out every day anew that we need to look right and left (or left and right) before we cross a road, for example. Beliefs like that are learned at a very early age, and we can trust them and rely on them. However, there are other beliefs, for example, beliefs about identity or capability, where the evidence we use in order to form them can be much less reliable. And yet, once we have formed such beliefs, we take them as reality.
When we believe something, we act as if it is true. And this makes it difficult to disprove. Beliefs are strong perceptual filters of reality. They make us interpret events from the perspective of the belief, and exceptions are interpreted as evidence and further confirmation of the belief. In contrast to the conclusions we draw about the laws of nature, however, many limiting beliefs are not based on reality. How then are they formed? Primarily through the modelling of significant others, and through conclusions we draw from repetitive experiences.
Teachers have certain belief systems, and these belief systems influence their expectations. If a teacher is to teach a class that she has strong and positive beliefs about, her expectations will be different from the ones she will have for a class that she does not think very highly of. The next step in the pattern is that we do not leave our expectations outside the class. We take them with us into the classroom, just as we take with us the teaching materials that we need. And we communicate our expectations to our learners. Some of this communication is done verbally, but most of it works on an unconscious or semi-conscious level, because it is carried out in non-verbal ways. This communication in turn evokes certain behaviour on the students' side. If this process is repeated, over time what we get is that the students' actual behaviour comes close to what we initially expected.
In looking for an answer to the third question, relating to what teachers can do to influence their students' beliefs in a respectful and positive way, I would like to make five suggestions. The first can be summarised in the saying that Success comes in 'cans', not in 'can'ts'. We will achieve such a can-do classroom culture if we can manage to involve our students in language practice where the emphasis is on the construction of meaning - certainly not a new claim, but one I believe that still awaits implementation in many classrooms. Likewise, students need to be given plenty of opportunity to assess their own learning progress, preferably also in the form of portfolio and process-oriented testing.
Secondly, I believe we need to give learners opportunities to explore the language they are learning rather than being solely recipients of it, and, depending on the students' age, to get them to take part in the construction of learning paths and in the development of their creativity. Involving learners in constructing tasks can, to a certain extent, be initiated at quite an early age.
Thirdly, I would like to stress the importance of teaching thinking skills and learning strategies alongside the teaching of the foreign language. For the practitioner, this means facilitating the development of learning strategies and the students' thinking, considering the students' individual learning styles and multiple intelligences and also taking into consideration the affective dimensions of learning.
My fourth point concerns building an atmosphere of trust and rapport with the students. When the students are accepted not only as learners but also as individuals, and when the classroom culture is one that allows for the strengthening of the students' self-esteem and confidence, there is less danger of confusion of logical levels. Then errors are more likely to be seen as what they are, signs of learning, and not messages about one's capabilities or one's identity.
And finally I believe in the need to use pedagogical influence. If we can manage to raise students' expectations of themselves, the level of their performance will rise accordingly. However, students reach success in their performance. This means that the student has reached a considerably higher level of performance than previously, yet subjectively might interpret such a top as getting stuck. A frequent pattern then is that students fall into a crisis and lose their confidence when the point of greatest difference between expectation and actual performance has been reached. This crisis point is also the point where they need our support most. If they do not get it, their level of performance can easily fall below their initial level, whereas if they do get support from us, their level of performance can go up almost to the level of expectation.