GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies
Volume 9(2) 2009
Motivation And Attitudes Towards Learning English: A Study Of Petroleum Engineering Undergraduates At Hadhramout
University Of Sciences And Technology
Faculty of Arts
Hadhramout University of Sciences and Technology
School of Humanities
Universiti Sains Malaysia
This paper outlines the results of a survey which was carried out, to identify Petroleum Engineering students’ motivation and attitudes towards learning the English language. The study investigated students’ motivation in terms of three motivational constructs: instrumental motivation, integrative motivation and personal motivation based on Gardner’s (1985) and Cooper and Fishman’s (1977) works. Learners’ attitudes, on the other hand, regarding 1) the use of English in the Yemeni social context, 2) the use of English in the Yemeni educational context, 3) the English language and 4) the culture of the English speaking world were identified. The study sample consisted of 81 petroleum engineering students at Hadhramout University of Sciences and Technology (HUST). A questionnaire and interviews were used for data collection. For the students’ motivation, the findings showed the subjects’ greater support of instrumental reasons for learning the English language including utilitarian and academic reasons. Personal reasons were also regarded as important motives by the students. However, regarding the integrative reasons, the results provided evidence that learning English as a part of the culture of its people had the least impact in students’ English language motivation. On the other hand, data for the students’ attitudes revealed that most of students had positive attitudes towards the social value and educational status of English. In addition, the findings showed the students’ positive orientation toward the English language. Interestingly enough, the results indicated that a high number of the students showed their interest in the culture of the English speaking world as represented by English-language films. Finally, some pedagogical implications that would help tap the students’ motivation and attitudes were presented.
Keywords: motivation, attitudes, English for Specific Purposes (ESP), EFL context, Petroleum Engineering students.
Previous research in the field of engineering showed that English language is of paramount importance in the academic and professional lives of the engineering students ISSN: 1675-8021
GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies
Volume 9(2) 2009
(Basturkman, 1998; Pendergrass et al., 2001; Pritchard & Nasr, 2004, Joseba, 2005; Sidek et al., 2006; Hui, 2007; Venkatraman & Prema, 2007). For example, Pendergrass et al. (2001) point out that English is an essential tool in the engineering education and, therefore,” integrating English into engineering, science and math courses is an effective way to improve the performance of engineering students in oral and written communication” (p. 1).
However, at Hadhramout University for Science and Technology (HUST) its petroleum engineering students have been described as low-competent in the English language (AlTamimi & Munir Shuib, 2008). Al-Tamimi and Munir Shuib's views were based on preliminary interviews with some English language teachers at HUST and some petroleum students and graduates, from the Faculty of Petroleum and Engineering (FPE) at HUST, in which they opined that the petroleum students faced a lot of difficulties in using the language. As a result of their poor performance in English, most of the petroleum graduates have been rejected when applying to work at the oil companies. In this regard, the former Yemeni Minister of Oil and Minerals Mr. Khaled Bahah stated that applicants, who graduated from the FPE, always found it difficult to join the oil companies because of their language problems and...
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