Role of Motivation in English Language Learning (Indian Context)

BY: nirmala padmavat | Category: Education | Submitted: 2011-04-21 21:45:05

Researches on second language acquisition are not at all new to this globe. There had been many researches in past few years which have yielded many striking things. It has been observed that the prevalence of SLA was more prominent in areas where adequate attention was given to the comprehensibility of the language rather than a competitive approach. A psycholinguistic research also established that SLA depends to a great extent on cognitive skills of the individuals.

English in India:
Education system in India is a very complicated system when it comes to language. Multicultural factors and the need to make pupils acquainted with local as well as international language have caused the entire education system to be a bilingual one. A very large number of regional languages and dialects are used as mother tongue in India and hence the medium of instruction in most cases is not the mother tongue of students and they are compelled to study at least two languages for the onset of their school lives. The English is mostly acquired as a Second language in India. There are several factors like family background, social background, economical background etc. that contributes to the status of SLA. Of all the outcomes of these factors, motivation plays the most vital role in SLA. Motivation had been defined in several ways by the researchers.

Definition of motivation:
In the most common definition, Motivation is referred as a psychological trait which leads people to achieve a goal. For language learners, mastery of a language may be a goal. For others, communicative competence or even basic communication skills could be a goal. Standard Oxford definition states that "Motivation is the reason or the reasons behind one's actions and behaviour[1]" While Gardner(1985) defined it as (in reference to SLA), "Referring to the extent to which the individual works or strives to learn the language because of a desire to do so and the satisfaction experienced in this activity[2]."Crookes and Schmidt (1991) defined it as, "The learner's orientation with regard to the goal of learning a Second language [3]."
The motivation results from several psychological needs of individual. Generally People are motivated to do things in order to satisfy their esteem, get rid of the instability, insecurity and to achieve rewards of some sort.
The motivation can be further classified into integrative and instrumental motivation in terms of SLA.
Integrative motivation is when a person is interested in the other language community to an extent that he/she is even willing to adopt different behaviouristic traits and features of it, which could be linguistic as well as non linguistic in nature. If Gardinar and Labbett are to believed, Integrative motivation leads to the most effective language learning yet, it is the ultimate demands of just such an integrative impulse that many students in bilingual programs must reject, if they are to retain their place in and usefully serve the community they come from[5].
The other form of motivation is instrumental motivation. It occurs when an individual desires to learn a language for sake of some pragmatic purpose. As Hudson states, Instrumental Motivation is generally characterised by the desire to obtain something practical or concrete from the study of a Second language [6].
Though these are the two different types of motivation, both are important in learning language. Brown makes the point that both integrative and instrumental motivations are not necessarily mutually exclusive. They correlate to each other and influences collectively the SLA by an individual.
There had been several motivation models of linguistic, sociolinguistic and SLA origin. Work by Gardner, Clement, Dörnyei, Usioda and McIntyre are perhaps the most known if not accepted. A common model is as follows:
a) First, the motivated individual expends effort to learn the language.
b) Second, the motivated individual wants to achieve a goal.
c) Third, the motivated individual will enjoy the task of learning the language, The Status of a language, or the status of its speakers, or the status of some form (non-standard? H-variety?) of the language, or its use in certain (new? non-traditional?) domain toward Language Shift (within a particular community, or in general), toward Loyalty to own language, attitude of a minority group about its own non-standard dialect/language (self- esteem?):
When questions are asked about any of the above, other factors may enter in, even when the intent to study those factors is not present. There may be an Observer's Paradox which means that asking questions could skew the responses and thus could have an impact.
As Labovian stated the above for certain traits, i.e. the varieties differed only with regard to use of certain phonological (morphological syntactic, lexical) variables, and found significant rankings for (e.g.) the pronunciation of post-vocalic (r) in New York NSE, etc. Labovian also observed variance in the rankings of the different socioeconomic `classes' of the subjects with different factors or variables. Motivation has also been observed to arise from anxiety environments. Negative attitude towards the language also adds to its learning at times.
Another way of classification of motivation is intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Intrinsic refers to motivations developed in order to achieve internal rewards of some sort whereas extrinsic refers to the motivations developed for sake of external rewards like grades, marks etc. Internal rewards may include aspects like self satisfaction, skills development etc. Former is often found to be more effective and long lasting in comparison to the later.
When it comes to externally induced motivation, teachers are the most significant aspect in the process of SLA.
Jacqueline Norris -Holt has suggested some points for the teacher in his research paper. He has stated that in order to make the language learning process a more motivating experience instructors need to put a great deal of thought into developing programs which maintain student interest and have obtainable short term goals[7].goals. Another researcher Berwick et al.(1989)has suggested that there should be foreign exchange programs with other universities, overseas "homestay" programs, and other activities at university level that could help to motivate students to improve their target language proficiency[8].proficiency.
In the Indian scenario, English teachers face a number of dilemmas. They ought to tackle many problems like indifference to subject, cultural opposition, lack of compatibility of language in Indian lifestyle, fear of learning etc. The overall SLA status of a student could highly be altered by the attitude of teacher. Only the command on language is not sufficient, teachers are supposed to convey their knowledge in a comprehensible way to students which itself is a challenging task in a nation where hardly a section of society gives preference to the English language.
The learning of skills could also be interpreted in two different ways. The first such influential concept was the Competence-performance distinction introduced by Chomsky. This distinguishes competence, a person's idealized knowledge of language rules, from performance, the imperfect realization of these rules. Thus, a person may be interrupted and not finish a sentence, but still knows how to make a complete sentence. Although this distinction has become fundamental to most work in linguistics today, it has not proven adequate by itself to describe the complex nature of learners' developing ability. Teacher should try to develop such ability in his/her students by motivating them.
The notion of Communicative Competence was first raised by Dell Hymes in 1967, reacting against the perceived inadequacy of Chomsky's distinction between linguistic competences, and has proven extremely popular in SLA research. It broadens the notion of the kind of rules that competence can include. Whereas Chomsky treated competence as primarily grammatical, communicative competence embraces all of the forms of knowledge that learners must have in order to communicate effectively. Because any test of competence is a task of some sort, it may be argued that all measures of competence are in effect measuring some form of proficiency. Again it can be developed by using the way of motivation only. Therefore motivation plays a vital role in learning/acquiring English as a second language.
Some research has shown that motivation correlates strongly with proficiency, indicating both that successful learners are motivated and that success improves motivation. Thus motivation is not fixed, but is strongly affected by feedback from the environment. Accordingly, the study of motivation in SLA has also examined many of the External Factors discussed above, such as the effect of instructional techniques on motivation. An accessible summary of this research can be found in Dörnyei (2001a). In their research on Willingness to Communicate, Macintyreetal (1998) have shown that motivation is not the final construct before learners engage in communication. In fact, learners may be highly motivated yet remain unwilling to communicate.

There are various motivational factors which affect SLA i.e. Ability, Interest etc. Numerous notions have been used to describe learners' ability in the target language. Individual, social, socio-economic factors, family background of learners etc are the factors which effect to learning English as a second language to Indian learners. all factors are concerned with the main factor i.e. 'Motivation'. Therefore motivation plays a vital role in learning English as a second language.

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