31 SES 13 C JS, Motivation and Language Learning
Joint Paper Session NW 27 and NW 31
Since English is the ultimate mediator of popular culture, especially youth culture, and a lingua franca studied from young age throughout the EU, young Europeans are generally exposed to and use English frequently in school as well as in their free time (Ushioda, 2013). However, according to the study European Commission/SurveyLang (2012), pupils’ proficiency in English varies quite a bit between European countries. Swedish pupils, along with Maltese, come out on top. Even so, their motivation for English as a school subject is generally quite low (the Swedish School Inspectorate, 2011). Many pupils report that they experience a gap between the English taught in school and the English that they encounter and use in their free time, through different forms of popular culture, computer games and the Internet. Pupils tend to regard these sites and activities as more valuable for learning than the English lessons (see e.g. Sundqvist, 2009), because they connect more with their identities and interests and because they are perceived as authentic. Similar reports about a disconnect between pupils experiences of in- and out of school English and about declining motivation in English L2 classrooms come from other countries within and outside Europe (Ushioda, 2013). This disconnect have detrimental effects on pupils L2 motivation in the classroom (Henry & Cliffordson, 2015).
The current paper is part of the project Bridging the Gap between in and out-of-school English: Learning from good practice (BTG), which aims to find out how the gap between pupils’ use of English in and out of school can be bridged by teachers and pupils. BTG draws on ethnographic data from the classrooms of 16 L2 English teachers assumed to work systematically to use pupils’ interests, experiences and linguistic skills acquired outside school, as a motivator in the classroom.
There is a large body of work on pupils’ language learning motivation. Three theoretical approaches provide particularly good opportunities to understand how motivation can be affected by the perception of an in-school/out-of-school gap; self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985), Vannini’s (2006) theory of self-authenticity and Dweck’s (1999) theory of implicit intelligence. BTG works from a theoretical framework that combines these with more specific theories that concern pupils motivation for learning language: responsive teaching, in which pupils’ identities and out of school experiences are central (Moje & Hinchman, 2004); about how gaps between different learning contexts can be effectively bridged in the classroom (Thorne and Reinhardt, 2008), and about affinity spaces (Gee, 2005).
Aiming to provide to a body of didactic knowledge that teachers can apply for enhancing pupils’ motivation, this paper specifically focuses the pupils’ views on learning and using English in and out of school, and on what sort of learning activities and aspects of instruction that they find crucial for motivation and learning. It addresses the following questions:
- In the context of L2 English, according to what criteria do pupils, assess the relevance of the content of lessons and tasks? (such criteria could include that the content relates to the pupils’ free-time interests, identities, or their ideas about future studies and careers)
- In the context of L2 English, according to what criteria do pupils, assess the value of different task formats or activities?
- What emotions and identities are evoked when using English in different contexts (free-time activities, different activities in the L2 English classroom)?
- In what ways do the teacher’s attitudes and personality, and the classroom climate and peer-relations impact the pupils’ motivation for L2 English?
How, in the pupils’ minds, is motivation in L2 English affected by assessment and grades?
Deci, E. L. & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum. Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press. Gee, J. P. (2005). Affinity spaces: From ‘Age of Mythology’ to today’s schools. In D. Barton and K. Tusting (eds), Beyond Communities of Practice: Language, Power and Social Context. New York: Cambridge University Press. Pages 214–32. Hammersley, M. & Atkinson, P. (2007). Ethnography: principles in practice. (3. ed.) Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Henry, A. & Cliffordson, C. (2015). The impact of out-of-school factors on motivation to learn English: Self-discrepancies, beliefs, and experiences of self-authenticity. Applied Linguistics. doi: 10.1093/applin/amv060 Miles, M.B. & Huberman, A.M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: an expanded sourcebook. (2. ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Moje, E. and Hinchman, K. (2004). Culturally responsive practices for youth literacy learning. In T.L. Jetton and J.A. Dole (eds), Adolescent Literacy Research and Practice. New York: Guilford. Pages 321–50. Sundqvist, P. (2009). Extramural English matters: Out-of-school English and its impact on Swedish ninth graders' oral proficiency and vocabulary. Diss., Karlstad University, Karlstad. The Swedish Schools Inspectorate. (2011). Engelska i grundskolans årskurser 6-9. Kvalitetsgranskning. Rapport 2011:7. Stockholm: The Swedish Schools Inspectorate. Thorne, S. L. and Reinhardt, J. (2008). ‘Bridging Activities’, New Media Literacies, and Advanced Foreign Language Proficiency. CALICO Journal, 25(3): 558-572. Ushioda, E. (2013). Motivation and ELT: Global issues and local concerns. In E. Ushioda (Ed.). International perspectives on English language teaching pp. 1- 17. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Vannini, P. (2006). Dead Poets’ Society: Teaching, publish-or-perish, and professors’ experiences of authenticity. Symbolic Interaction 4: 1–20.
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