31 SES 06 A, Attitudes and Motivation in Language Learning
There has been a growing interest and need towards learning foreign languages in an increasingly globalized world. The multicultural and multilingual nature of contemporary urban life in most cities motivates the need for learning a second or even a third foreign language to facilitate effective communication. Especially in EU countries citizens are encouraged to learn at least two foreign languages (Demirel, 2003), whereas in the US there has been a recent effort to reform the language teaching system to help students become proficient in more than one foreign language (Lambert, 2001). Similarly, in developing countries such as Turkey that seek EU membership, the importance of learning a foreign language is strongly emphasized.
There are important individual differences among foreign language learners, where learning a second language is almost effortless for some individuals while others find the process very difficult and challenging. Previous work in this field indicated that differences in language intelligence, native language skills, motivation, attitude, and anxiety are among the key factors contributing to the variability among language learners (Campell & Ortiz, 1991; Caroll, 1990; Gardner, 1985; Skehan, 1992). In particular, Sutarso (1996) reported that the more positive the students’ attitude towards the foreign language is, the higher their grades. Attitude can be defined as “a relatively enduring organization of beliefs around an object or a situation, predisposing one to respond in some preferential manner” (Smith, 1971, p.82).
There are several factors in second or foreign language learning that may have an impact on the formation of learners’ attitudes. The first one is the affective factors, which can be organized in terms of (a) factors prior to learners’ approach to the second or foreign language study, and (b) factors that develop during the learning process (Gardner, 1985). Atchade (2002) also mentioned personality factors as having an impact on learners’ attitudes. For example an ethnocentric person who views the group he belongs to more important than others most probably show a negative attitude towards the target language. Another factor is social influence. Researchers maintain the belief that the social context may have an impact on second or foreign language learners’ attitude (Gardner, 1988). Finally, parents are identified as another source of influence on learners’ attitudes towards learning a second or foreign language, because the way the parents view the second or foreign language has an effect on learners’ development of negative or positive attitudes.
Given the literature indicating the impact of attitudes on foreign language learning, it is important to establish accurate measurement scales for those attitudes, especially to fpr comparative studies across multiple cultural settings. In the Turkish context, there have been several studies focusing on scale development and adaptation, but most of these studies focused on the attitudes of university students towards learning only English as a foreign language. English language is taught as the mandatory foreign language in most universities in Turkey, so participants of these studies may differ in terms of their motivation and attitudes as compared to those students who select such courses at their own will. To the best of our knowledge, there have been no prior study focusing on second language learning other than English in the Turkish context in a comparative way. In this study we aim to address this need by investigating whether Turkish and American second language learners differ from each other in terms of their attitudes towards learning a second language.
The Students' Attitude Toward Foreign Language (SAFL) instrument designed by Sutarso (1996) was employed to explore the factors associated with students’ attitudes towards second language use and learning. The original instrument is comprised of 27 Likert-scale items that covered the following variables that are considered to affect students’ attitudes; foreign language anxiety, self confidence, self interest, family background in foreign language, gender, motivation/usefulness, students’ effort, instructors’ role. After eliminating 4 items due to their low item to total correlation, Pudjiati’s (1996) analysis grouped the variables under 4 factors, namely motivation, students' effort and instructor's role, self confidence & self interest, and students' anxiety. The instrument was translated from English into Turkish by two translators, which was evaluated through the back-translation method (Brislin, 1970). The translated survey was administered to 213 students at Hacettepe University, who were attending a second language course other than English. A confirmatory factor analysis was performed over the 23 items for the Turkish sample. A KMO measure of .796 suggest that the sample size was appropriate. As in the Pudijati study, principal components based factor analysis was carried out with varimax rotation. The scree plot supported the use of 4 factors, which altogether accounted for 56% of the variability in the data. The percent variance explained by each factor are: 25.15 % by factor 1, 13.80 % by factor 2, 10.76 % by factor 3, and 5.89 % by factor 4. The Cronbach Alpha was found to be .76, which suggests that the translated instrument is reliable to use for the purpose of measuring students’ attitude towards learning a foreign language. 55 university students from the US and 261 students from Turkey participated in the main study. The US sample included students studying French(61%) or Spanish(39%), whereas the Turkish sample included students learning French(61%), Spanish (18%) and Italian (21%). Both groups were compared in terms of their responses to individual items as well as their attitude scores for each factor. Ethical approval for the study was obtained from both Institutional Review Boards of University of Pennsylvania and Hacettepe University.
The average ratings for each item by each group were consistently above or equal to 3 out of 5 for most of the items. Since negatively stated items were reverse coded prior to the analysis, if an item has a mean value greater than 3 it shows that the students' attitude toward foreign language learning as represented by that item is positive. Since most of the items have means greater than 3, we can conclude that in general the students' attitude toward foreign language is positive in both groups. University students enrolled in a second language learning course in the US and Turkey were compared in terms of their responses to SAFL items as well as their attitude scores for each of the 4 dimensions. Separate confirmatory factor analyses were conducted for each sample with 4 varimax rotated, orthogonal factors. Factor scores for each individual were computed based on the weights identified by the factor analysis to obtain general measures of motivation, students' effort and instructor's role, self confidence & self interest, and students' anxiety. Independent groups t-tests found no significant difference among the two groups in terms of their overall motivation (t(307)=-.11, ns), students' effort and instructor's role (t(307)=.26,ns), self confidence & self interest (t(307)=-.16, ns), and students' anxiety (t(307)=.90, ns) dimensions. Therefore, these findings suggest that both cohorts exhibit similar attitudes towards learning a second language. Prior work in the Turkish context have led to mixed findings since they tended to focus on English as the second language, which is mandatory for students in most universities. Our results suggest that as far as students who learn a second language other than English are concerned, their motivational attitudes towards learning a second language is comparable to the students in the US.
Atchade, M. P. (2002). The impact of learners’ attitudes on second or foreign language learning. Sciences Sociales et Humaines, 4, 45-50. Bartram, B. (2010). Attitudes to modern foreign language learning. London, UK: Continuum. Brislin, R. W. (1970). Back-translation for cross-cultural research. Journal of cross-cultural psychology, 1(3), 185-216. Campbell, C. & Ortiz, J. (1991). Helping students overcome foreign language anxiety: a foreign language anxiety workshop. In E.K. Horwitz & D.J. Young, (Eds.). Language Anxiety: From Theory and Research to Classroom Implications. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. 153-168. Carroll, J. B. (1990). Cognitive abilities in foreign language aptitude: Then and now. In T. Parry & C. W. Stansfield (eds.), Language Aptitude Reconsidered. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Demirel, Ö. (2003). Yabancı Dil Öğretimi. Ankara, Pegem Yayınları. Dörnyei, Z. (1990). Conceptualizing motivation in foreign‐language learning. Language learning, 40(1), 45-78. Dornyei, Z., & Ottó, I. (1998). Motivation in action: A process model of L2 motivation. Dörnyei, Z., & Skehan, P. (2003). Individual differences in second language learning. In C. J. Doughty, & M. H. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 589-630). Oxford: Blackwell. Gardner, R.C. (1985). Social Psychology and Language Learning: the Role of Attitudes and Motivation. London: Edward Arnold. Gardner, R. C., & Lambert, W. E. (1972). Attitudes and Motivation in Second-Language Learning. Newbury House Publishers/ Rowley, Massachusets 01961. USA. Geisinger, K. F. (1994). Cross-cultural normative assessment: Translation and adaptation issues influencing the normative interpretation of assessment instruments. Psychological assessment, 6(4), 304. Lambert, D.R. (2001). Updating the Foreign Language Agenda. The Modern Language Journal, 85, 347-362 Skehan, P. (1992). Strategies in second language acquisition. Thames Valley University Working Papers in English Language Teaching. No. 1. Smith, A. (1971). The Importance of Attitude in Foreign Language Learning. The Modern Language Journal, 55(2), 82-88. Sutarso, P. (1996). Students' Attitude Toward Foreign Language (SAFL). Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association (Tuscaloosa, AL).
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