31 SES 06 A, Attitudes and Motivation in Language Learning
European countries have addressed the foreign language issue in positive terms as a way to achieve greater social, political and cultural cohesion (Butler, 2009). Supranational organisations like the European Commission have discussed the problem of teaching a foreign language in a multilingual context, recommending new strategies to promote multilingualism (Dendrinos, Zouganeli & Karavas, 2013). Regarding the learning of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) this paper focuses on, it is fundamental to highlight “the phenomenon of English being a global language” (Graddol, 2006: 12).
In the context of widespread concern about foreign languages, the European Survey on Language Competences of 2012 (ESLC) was created in order to provide a linguistic competence indicator of progress for improving foreign language learning across Europe. One of the main findings of the ESLC regarding the informal language learning opportunities was that “overall, the use of the target language at home, the number of first languages and the exposure to the target language in the living environment is low” (European Commission, 2012: 67). These results acted as a springboard for our research since the Spanish context offers few opportunities for exposure to English, which could be the reason why Spanish students did not do as well as others in the ESLC (Bonnet, 2003; Erickson, 2004; Sylvén, 2013). The analysis of these results leads us to consider the role played by extramural exposure to English.
The present paper analyses how extramural exposure to English affect the way secondary students learn English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in two European countries (Spain and Greece), as the ESLC 2012 reflected the low results of Spanish students compared to the Greek ones. When it comes to learning languages, the exposure to the target language can take many forms and happen in different places and the context has been proved to be an essential source of target language input (Sundqvist, 2009; Olsson, 2011; Oscarson and Apelgren, 2005; Sylvén, 2004, 2013). Extramural exposure to English does clearly play an important role when learning the language. Hence, our paper focuses on the ‘learning ecology perspective’ and the ‘ecological metaphor’, which stress how learning takes place across different informal contexts as every setting can provide opportunities for learning (Barron, 2006; Barton, 2007).
We also take into account the fact that a student who is exposed to English in the family and social environment and who takes advantage of the learning opportunities these environments provide, will probably be more motivated and have a more positive attitude to learn a foreign language. In fact, according to Arribas (2016: 273), “research has shown that lower levels of motivation have to do with the minimum contact that these learners experience with the language outside the classroom context; they are not motivated to learn a language because they do not think it is useful for their everyday life”. Other researchers (Dörnyei, 2009; Liuolienė & Metiūnienė, 2006) have stated that motivation is a driving force for learning to take place, and in particular with regards to the learning of foreign languages.
Our research aims are: 1) To find out some correlations between the out-of-school activities that students, their parents and their older siblings do in English; 2) To identify similar patterns that could define the students’ non-formal contexts of learning EFL; 3) To analyse to what extent the out-of-school context and the learners’ attitudes to learn EFL act as predictors of the facility the students have to learn English; 4) To compare the perceived ability to learn English by the type of school (bilingual/non-bilingual) and the areas assessed (Speaking, Listening, Writing and Reading).
The sample of the current paper includes a total of 565 students of an ISCED-2 level of Greece and Spain. In both countries, different types of school participated in each context: four bilingual schools, in which English is the teaching language for several subjects; and four monolingual schools, where English is a Foreign Language. In order to collect the data, two questionnaires were used: one about the influence of students’ out-of-school context on the learning of EFL, and another one about their attitude to learn a foreign language, adapted from Roncel Vega’s (2000) previous work. Thus, students filled these two questionnaires based on a Likert scale: the first one, which was specifically designed for this research and previously validated, contains questions regarding the different activities of exposure to English and use of this language ‘outside’ the school that the learners, their parents, and their older siblings do. The second one has questions in relation to the student’s attitude towards English, their behaviour in the classroom and their ‘facility’ to learn a foreign language. The analyses carried out for the aims of this paper include a correlational study using Spearman’s rho correlation coefficient to establish possible relations between the out-of-school activities that students, their parents and their older siblings do in English (aim 1); a Cluster analysis to identify similar patterns between some cases within the non-formal learning contexts (aim 2); a regression analysis in order to determine how the learners’ exposure to English outside the school, their attitudes to learn EFL and their behaviour in the classroom during English lessons help us predict the ability perceived by students to learn English (aim 3); and an ANOVA and a T-test to compare the ability perceived to learn English depending on the type of school (bilingual/non-bilingual) and the areas assessed (Speaking, Listening, Writing and Reading) (aim 4).
The results highlight the low exposure Spanish students have to English outside the school and how little this language is promoted through daily routines and activities at Spanish homes. When analysing the exposure to English and uses in leisure and entertainment activities that Spanish students make, there is a predominant low exposure to situations in which English is used, unlike Greek learners. A positive and statistically significant correlation between the students, their parents and their siblings was found in some of their attitudes towards EFL like watching the TV in English, reading in this language, communicating in English when travelling abroad, etc. The Cluster analysis allowed us to identify groups of students with similar patterns according to their exposure to English outside the school. Firstly, some patterns show differences between Spanish and Greek students; secondly, other patterns set clusters regarding the type of school, the amount of exposure to English, and the parents’ socioeconomic background. Regression analyses showed that student’s attitude towards English, their exposure out of school and their behaviour during English lessons are good predictors of the student’s perceived facility to learn EFL. ANOVA and T-test analyses show that the exposure of Greek students appears to be higher than the Spanish learners, both in the bilingual and the monolingual schools. These results confirm the findings of the ESLC study: Greek students performed better than the Spanish ones. In conclusion, Spanish families do not stimulate the EFL learning as much as the Greek ones, although the way in which learning EFL occurs seems to be a direct consequence of the use of this language that the student makes outside the school. This is particularly relevant as a student who takes advantage of the learning opportunities these environments provide will probably be more motivated to learn a foreign language.
Arribas, M. (2016). Analysing a whole CLIL school: Students’ attitudes, motivation, and receptive vocabulary outcomes. Latin American Journal of Content and Language Integrated Learning, 9(2), 267-292. doi:10.5294/laclil.2016.9.2.2 Barron, B. (2006). Interest and self-sustained learning as catalysts of development: A learning ecologies perspective. Human Development, 49, 193–224. Barton, D. (2007). Literacy: An Introduction to the Ecology of Written Language. UK: Blackwell Publishing. Bonnet, G. (ed.) (2003). The assessment of pupils’ skills in English in eight European countries. Paris: Le Réseau européen des responsables de l'évaluation des systèmes éducatifs. Buttler, A. (2009). Languages for social cohesion: the 2004-2007 programme of the ECML. In D. Newby y H. Penz (Eds.), Languages for social cohesion: language education in a multilingual and multicultural Europe (pp. 11-16). Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Dendrinos, B., Zouganeli, K. & Karavas, E. (2013). Foreign language learning in Greek Schools. European Survey on Language Competences. Athens: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Erickson, G. (2004). Engelska I åtta europeiska länder [English in eight European countries]. Stockholm: Skolverket. European Commission SurveyLang (2012). First European Survey on Language Competences: Final Report, Version 2.0. http://ec.europa.eu/languages/policy/strategic-framework/documents/language-survey-final-report_en.pdf Graddol, D. (2006). English Next: Why Global English may mean the End of ‘English as a Foreign Language’. London: British Council. Liuolienė, A. & Metiūnienė, R. (2006). Second language learning motivation. Santalka: Filosofija, Komunikacija, 2, 93–98. Olsson, E. (2011). Everything I Read on the Internet is in English - On the Impact of Extramural English on Swedish 16-Year-Old Pupils’ Writing Proficiency. (Licentiate dissertation). University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Oscarson, M., and Apelgren, B. M. (2005). Nationella utvärderingen av grundskolan 2003 (NU-03). Engelska [The national evaluation of compulsory school 2003. English]. Ämnesrapporttill rapport 251. Stockholm: Skolverket. Sundqvist, P. (2009). Extramural English Matters: Out-of-school English and its Impact on Swedish Ninth Graders’ Oral Proficiency and Vocabulary (PhD dissertation). Karlstad University, Sweden. Sylvén, L. K. (2004). Teaching in English or English Teaching? On the Effects of Content and Language Integrated Learning on Swedish Learners’ Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition. (PhD dissertation). University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Sylvén, L.K. (2013). CLIL in Sweden – why does it not work? A metaperspective on CLIL across contexts in Europe. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 16(3), 301-320, doi: 10.1080/13670050.2013.777387.
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