A Case Study about the
Motivation of English Majors for EFL Learning
Learning English as a foreign language has been prevailing in China for a long time. Since the national language in China is Chinese which is different from English in many ways, and there is no English-speaking environment, English is mainly acquired through school courses and in the classroom context. Therefore, in recent decades, many Chinese researchers are borrowing and adapting some Second Language (L2 hereinafter) theories from the west, which can guide English teachers to better develop the English proficiency of students. Among various L2 theories, motivation is universally acknowledged as an important factor that affects L2 learning, and it also has been drawing much attention on the part of Chinese researchers.
2. Literature Review
2.1 What is L2 motivation?
According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, “Motivation is often defined as a psychological trait which leads people to achieve a goal. For language learners, mastery of a language may be the goal.” In Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics, motivation is defined as “the factors that determine a person’s desire to do something. In SECOND LANGUAGE AND FOREIGN LANGUAGE learning, learning may be affected differently by different types of motivation”. To put it simply, motivation in L2 learning is the desire to develop the L2 language proficiency. 2.2 Why do we explore motivation?
First of all, motivation is one of the most important variables that determine the achievement of L2 learners, and stronger motivation can lead to greater achievement. As Gardner (2001) claims, “other variables are dependent on motivation for their effects to be realized”. He gives two examples to illustrate: “Language learning strategies probably will not be used if the individual is not motivated to learn the language, and/or there is little or no reason to take risks using the language if there is little intention to learn it”. Also, a study done to 72 English majors by Wen Qiufang (1996) proves that motivation exerts great influence to beliefs and strategies. In a word, motivation is closely tied to the language proficiency. Second, L2 motivation within language learners can change. To put it more exactly, some elements that contribute to motivation may undergo changes. Gardner has conducted a study to evaluate the hypothesis that many of those elements can be changed under the right circumstance. The results have confirmed the hypothesis. Though those elements change to different extents and within limits, the changes do occur. Therefore, to explore L2 motivation is significant in the classroom setting. With the help of the conceptualized motivation, teachers can better understand the progress and behaviors of their students, and then evaluate and readjust their classroom practice and teaching methods. Accordingly, students will be motivated to a bigger extent and obtain greater achievement in L2 learning.. 2.3 Gardner’s Motivation Theory
L2 motivation research was initiated by Gardner and Lambert in Canada. Taking the special bilingual context of Canada into consideration, they put a social psychological emphasis throughout the study. “They saw second languages as meditating factors between different ethnolinguistic communities in multicultural settings”（Dornyei,2001,p.48）. In Gardner and Lambert’s theory, the most noted concept is “integrativeness”, which subsumes three parts, “integrative orientation”, “interest in foreign language”, and “attitudes towards the L2 community”, “reflecting the individual’s willingness and interest in social interaction with members of other groups”(in Dornyei, 2005). Here, “integrative orientation” means the desire to communicate with or even become similar to the L2 group. Opposite to it is “instrumental orientation”, which concerns some practical benefits of L2, such as passing an exam or getting a job. Meanwhile, Gardner...
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Net.1: Motivation in Second Language Learning, April 20th, 2008
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