Many years of interviewing successful people—students, doctors, engineers, government leaders and others—we have come to realize that there is a fine line between them and the rest of the pack. We call this line the winner’s edge. This edge is not the result of a privileged environment, family background, financial support or having a high I.Q. The key to the winner’s edge, we have found, are motivation and attitude, personality factors within a person that contribute in someway to the success of language learning .The reason is also similar in the case of second language learner. There is no simple and single criterion according to which one can be said to learn second language. But attitude, an individual variation in second language performance and very much related to motivation may act as a catalyst in the success of learning second language.
This paper aims to look into the magnitude and role of attitudes and motivation in second language learning. Moreover, it will focus on the responsibilities of teachers who can act as a facilitator to show their students the way to success through their (students’) attitude and motivation.
3. Theoretical background:
The theoretical climate of earliest seventies and late sixties provided the rationale for the role of attitudes and motivation in second language learning. Carroll (1962 in Spolsky, 1989.p.148)1 “suggested that the critical factors are aptitude, attitude, opportunity or method, and motivation, the latter predicting the amount of time a learner would apply to the task of language learning.”
Carroll’s formula may be rewritten as a set of graded conditions:
Attitude condition (typical, graded): A learner’s attitudes affect the development of motivation. Motivation condition (typical, graded): The more motivation a learner has the more time he or she will spend learning an aspect of a second language. In the earliest statements on motivation in second language learning, Gardner and Lambert (1959 in Spolsky, 1989.p. 149) suggested that an individual’s motivation to learn a second language is controlled by his “attitudes towards the other group in particular and by his orientation to the learning task itself.” Of all school subjects, language learning is the one where attitude is especially relevant: Gardner points out that: “Language courses are different from other curriculum topics. They require that the individual incorporates elements from another culture. As a consequence, reactions to the other culture become important considerations. Furthermore, because the material is not merely an extension of the students’ own cultural heritage, the dynamics of the classroom and the methodology assume greater importance than they do in other school topics.” (Gardner 1985:8 in Spolsky, 1989:149) 1. Spolsky, Bernard: Conditions for Second Language Learning: Introduction to a General Theory. (Oxford: OUP, 1989)
Attitudes do not have direct influence on learning, but they lead to Motivation which does: “Motivation in the present context refers to the combination of effort plus desire to achieve the goal of learning plus favourable attitudes towards learning the language.” Motivation itself is a complex construct, as Gardner remarks: “. . . motivation involves four aspects, a goal, effortful behaviour, a desire to attain the goal and favourable attitudes towards the activity in question. These four aspects are not unidimensional . . .”
4. Literature survey and significance:
For Gardner and Lambert, motivation comes from attitude. Attitude itself is to be measured by asking a subject to evaluate an object: “. . . from an operational point of view, an individual’s attitude is an evaluative reaction to some referent or attitude object, inferred on the basis of the individual’s...