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Foreign language anxiety and its effect on female college students learning English in Saudi Arabia Essay Example

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This paper will discuss foreign language anxiety. I have investigated the researches since 1970 to get in depth understanding of foreign language anxiety. I have emphasized a motivation factor a lot. Through a diagram, I have also illustrated relationship between foreign language anxiety, the level of proficiency in the foreign language classroom, self confidence and achievement. Cognitive and Affective Factors are also discussed as it is found to be the prominent factor in language anxiety. This set of factors includes motivation, self-referential judgments, anxiety, and language learning strategies. Each of these is a clear source of variation in language learning. In the end I have all discussed issues which researchers are confronting presently.

Researchers have studied the causes of anxiety on foreign language learning since the 1970’s. Despite extensive advancements in teaching ways and methods, anxiety persists to exist in the foreign language classroom.

The correlation between foreign language study and anxiety only started gaining considerable attention a few years ago; Research instigated in this field around thirty years ago and has been gaining interest in current years. Before, the correlation between anxiety and some specific aspects of foreign language study are discussed; it is significant to introduce research that describes a general relationship between foreign language and anxiety.

According to modern research, the anxiety one experiences might directly influence performance in foreign language.

Anxiety associated with language learning for past three decades, is second simply to aptitude as an associate of foreign language achievement. Anxiety might be an enduring trait of personality, a response to a particular set of situations or a blend of the two, as a person responsible to anxiety faces a situation which causes it.

According to Stevick, (1978), a reluctance to speak for fear of making a mistake may have an effect on pessimistically both the learning of a language in the classroom situation (Scovel, 1978), and its performance in any situation (Krashen, 1981). Anxiety of language learning is not at all times negative, just as a player or an examinee may perform better with the adrenalin pumping, so a peculiarity is at times made between facilitating and debilitating anxiety (Brown, 1987).

After these studies, much has been written about students’ anxiety and uncertainty while studying a foreign language (Bailey 1983; Horwitz 1988; Horwitz and Young 1991; Scovel 1991), much less is known about the role anxiety and uncertainty play in a teacher’s performance.

Basically, Anxiety can be either a state or a permanent trait of fear or apprehension (Horwitz and Young 1991). With debilitating anxiety, motivation suffers, poor performance occurs, and still greater anxiety is aroused, but facilitating anxiety stimulates the learner to try harder and perform better. Certain language activities, such as speaking in front of others or writing a paper, can generate anxiety about performance. Other anxiety-causing variables are certain classroom structures, perceived irrelevance of the target language, and culture shock. Language anxiety can be reduced through relaxation, humour, discussion, support groups, and other means (Young 1998).

The majority of the literature dealt with debilitating anxiety, and proposed a bidirectional negative relationship between anxiety and linguistic performance. Numerous students go through a descending spiral in which the understanding of their cognitive problems obvious with slower and ineffective performance shows the way to greater anxiety which further hinders cognition (Young, 1991).

Review of several studies found that Initial experiences with language anxiety increases with time among young children, adolescents, and adults (MacIntyre and Gardner 1991a).

The data of past problems and failure leads to greater anxiety, which show the way to further intrusion with cognitive processing. This developmental progression often concurs, and interrelates, with the manifestation of students’ strong self perception throughout their teenage years. As the research specified, language learning anxiety is much higher in children much more than in teenagers and adults (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991).

As Bailey’s study (1983) relates anxiety to competitiveness, for Horwitz et al. (1986), language anxiety includes three elements: the psychosomatic conception of communication anxiety that is linked with valid or estimated interaction test anxiety that is associated to any evaluative circumstances, together with peer assessment and social evaluative apprehension that others will worth one pessimistically.

MacIntyre & Gardner (1994) emphasizes that the provocation of language anxiety deflects into contemplation of failure, into self condemnation, and into evasion, the cognitive resources required to optimize intake, practising or production in the foreign language. In other words, the self cognizant learner’s psyche is so busy being concerned that it cannot spare the practicing or production power requisite to take in or produce the foreign language. Reliable oral communication with second language landers is most anxiety infuriating, as it makes the greatest demands of the learner.

Following MacIntyre & Gardner (1989), Aida (1994) observes test anxiety as state somewhat than trait anxiety, discrete to the other mechanism. The behavioural reaction to communication as well as social evaluative anxiety is evading and withdrawal. Ely (1986a) found that distress dejected language risk taking, and thus repressed participation.

There is a connecting to accumulativeness; the more foreign one perceives the second language culture to be, the less comfy one feels (Ehrman & Oxford, 1995). Given that classroom experiences contribute, we should put up nonthreatening learning atmosphere, and facilitate students to do so themselves by attaining effective study and learning approaches, including help-seeking behaviours. In a definite situation (Ganschow, Sparks et al., 1994), learners can take over high anxiety through self-confidence and strategies to handle anxiety and optimize learning. Since reverence is associated to lower anxiety (Greenberg et al., 1986; 1992) we can seek to build up students’ self-respect and self-assurance, though the very position of foreign language learners unavoidably lowers their self-esteem as the lack of mastery of second language communication averts them from behaving with their normal proficiency

Aida (1994: 158) emphasized that there is no considerable gender disparity as far as anxiety is concerned. Coleman’s restated, cross-sectional study, however, based on self-reporting by almost twenty thousand university students (1996a: 110-5), found considerably higher levels of language anxiety amongst women. The European Language Proficiency Survey also established the optimistic impact of experience and proficiency (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991b: 111; Willis et al., 1977: 89), finding that as (self-reported) anxiety reduced moderately with age from seventeen to twenty-one, students who had just accomplished residence abroad showed noticeably lower levels of language anxiety than other groups.

Another pertinent construct of the affective area is language learning anxiety. MacIntyre and Gardner (1991) distinguished that in spite of numerous studies since seventies, this construct endures from the lack of a standard characterization and, until lately, a number of contradictory conclusions occurring from the research (Ely, 1986). However, with modifications in theory and measurement, generally recent research has devastatingly hold the view that anxiety plays a key role in directly and indirectly persuading language learning and acquisition. (MacIntyre, 1995: MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991; Young, 1991).

The foremost dissenting voice concerning the significance of anxiety in language learning comes from Sparks and Granschow (as cited in MacIntyre, 1995), who posited that language aptitude is the prevailing factor in language learning success and consider language anxiety as a side effect.

Various early opposing research findings could be explicated with the implementation of the Yerkes-Dodson Law which assured that low levels of anxiety in fact aid the students to focus on the task nearby, thus causing greater performance evaluated to students who are unconcerned to the task (MacIntyre, 1995). Yet, as the anxiety of dealing with a particular task augments, a point is reached where the sentimental demands on cognitive processing come out so greatly that every increase of anxiety obstructs the students’ thriving achievement of the task.

People are frequently concerned regarding their capability to function in a second or foreign language, mainly in oral/aural situations, a kind of anxiety termed communication apprehension (Macintyre & Gardner, 1991). Different reading and writing, which permit for consideration and alteration, listening and speaking demand, high levels of attentiveness in a time frame not forced by the students. While there is only one prospect to effectively process the input or output, the pressure on students amplifies. Yet in an informal situation, people will feel ill at easiness frequently requesting the same information (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991; Young, 1991).

As communication apprehension might subsist in usual environments outside of the classroom, within the classroom there are added types of anxiety: the doubts concerning being officially appraised (test anxiety) and the doubts of looking irresponsible in the presence of peers (social anxiety) (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991; Young, 1991). Questioning grade seven and grade nine Canadian Francophone students, Clement, Gardner, and Smythe (as cited in MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991) found that self-confidence in English performance was the least among students who were exposed to English simply in the classroom as conflicting to being exposed to English at home, with friends, or both. In this study, and others like it, self-confidence was distinct as the lack of anxiety and was optimistically linked with language learning motivation.

Young (1991) recommended six causes of classroom language anxiety:

1) Personnel and interpersonal anxieties;

2) Learner thinking concerning language learning;

3) Instructor viewpoint concerning language learning;

4) instructor-learner interactions;

5) Classroom measures; and

6) Language testing.

The literature reviews have constantly pointed to considerably higher levels of anxiety in language classes as evaluated to other academic subjects, sustaining the hypothesis of a separate language learning anxiety raise.

Actually, some of the observed studies reviewed by MacIntyre and Gardner (1991) specified that «anxiety gives some of the utmost association of attitudes with achievement» (p. 103).

Schumann (as Brown, 1993) contracted with the construct of social distance linking language groups that come in contact with each other, a construct intimately connected to subtractive and additive bilingualism. Briefly, the better the professed social distance linking two language groups, the less possibility of successful second language acquisition by the members of those groups. Certainly, social distances are not the only, nor inevitably the most prevailing, aspect forecasting success in the language classroom. The affirmative, influential motivation of socio-politically and economically subordinate groups might well be stronger than the pessimistic aspects of social distance. For instance, subjugated and incarcerated populations have understood the viciously practical stipulation (i.e., instrumental motivation) of learning the language of their subjugators and masters. Thus, social distance is merely one constituent within the larger construct of anxiety, a construct which stoutly predicts success in second/foreign language classrooms. (Brown, 1993; MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991).

As Dornyei (1990) like Horwitz et al, made the difference between second language and foreign language surroundings. Foreign language students typically have not had adequate contact with the target language group to expand positive or negative feelings concerning that group, its customs, and its language. Therefore, the anxieties of subtractive bilingualism and related factors obstructing integrative motivation are mislaid in generally foreign language classrooms. Consequently, whatever motivation subsists in foreign language classrooms leans to be influential motivation (Brown, 1993; Dornyei, 1994).

MacIntyre and Gardner asserted that learners do not begin the language learning experience with language anxiety. If they experience anxiety, it is most probable state anxiety. According to them, language anxiety takes place only after attitudes and emotions regarding the language learning practice have been formed. If MacIntyre and Gardner’s theory is right, this suggests that the dilemma is not so much in the student but in the language learning experience, that is the methodology. Student language anxiety might be a sign that we are doing something essentially unnaturally in our methodology. (p. 429)
Young (1991) offered a broad review of the literature describing to language anxiety in the classroom, in which she wrote:

Amid her different suggestions for more usual methodological procedures to diminish anxiety in the second/foreign language classroom, Young recommended the use of games: mutual problem-solving games as well as customary competitive ones. Citing Krashen, she noted that the pre-eminent way to reduce anxiety is to make the content of the lesson so fascinating that the students overlook them are in language class. This is the control of a good game.

However, now I will illustrate the diagram below to have better understanding of relation between anxieties with other aspects.

foreign language anxiety and its effect on female college students learning English in Saudi Arabia

Proficiency Low Anxiety

foreign language anxiety and its effect on female college students learning English in Saudi Arabia 1foreign language anxiety and its effect on female college students learning English in Saudi Arabia 2foreign language anxiety and its effect on female college students learning English in Saudi Arabia 3foreign language anxiety and its effect on female college students learning English in Saudi Arabia 4

Self- Confidence
Achievement in the L2

There is difference in knowledge and Motivation and Language

Skill that also account for Self-ConfidenceAptitude are responsible for

Achievement in the L2

foreign language anxiety and its effect on female college students learning English in Saudi Arabia 5

The above diagram shows the relation between anxiety, achievement, self confidence and proficiency.

Low anxiety directly related to achievement in learning that is elevated by motivation and aptitude. Research has consistently underlined the important role of motivation in successful language learning (Gardner & Lambert 1972, Naiman et al 1978, Oxford & Shearin 1994, Ushioda 1996, Dörnyei 2001). For learners, it is perhaps the most considerable formative factor in retention and achievement.

Aptitude is normally regarded as a fixed variable which is optimistically correlated with achievement. Skehan (1998:201) suggests that a view of aptitude as consisting of three abilities aural, linguistic and memory which correlated in that order to the phases of learning which consists of input, central processing and output. Of these, memory capability correlated with output might be of particular significance for language learners, specified that they are past the significant period for language acquisition, and have increasing memory mutilation. The reality that, in spite of this, several do well can possibly be elucidated by their greater cognitive development and the self-management skills successful learners will have attained, which can, to some extent, compensate for waning memory.

With regard to linguistic ability as well as central processing, there is proof to suggest that even as older learners are less prone than their younger counterparts to achieve high levels of pronunciation as the effects of age on coding and reclamation abilities, this is not so with grammar where the superior investigative abilities of adult learners might provide them a preliminary advantage.

Thus, Achievement directly increases self confidence that is a major factor coping with Language anxiety. Achievement is very important in the development of self-confidence.

Confidence is prerequisite for success. There are astounding disparities in performance, achievement and self-assurance while you compare the performance of confident and nervous individuals in the same situation. Never think that it is impractical to gain confidence if it is not an easy place for you to be.

Gardner (200) also maintains that there might be other features that have direct effects on language achievement such as proficiency, language anxiety, and self-confidence with the language.

Anxiety is said to be strongly associated with low self-confidence (Cheng, Horwitz & Shallert 1999). Shy people lean to have higher anxiety levels than assertive person and take longer to get back information. Though, they are more precise and show greater cognitive control (Dewaele & Furnham 1999).

Thus, high self confidence achieves proficiency in language. Findings support that the integrative self confidence plays a job in the frequency of the second language use, and the frequency of second language use gives individual divergences in proficiency.

It has been shown that, in addition to attitudes and motivation, anxiety has a great impact on second language learning. Horwitz et al. (1986) recognized foreign language anxiety as some circumstances specific anxiety which is discrete from other anxieties. The Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) developed by Horwitz et al. (1986) are intended to assess three mechanisms of anxiety: communication anxiety, test anxiety, and fear of negative evaluation. It has been revealed that the FLCAS has reasonable consistency and legitimacy (Horwitz, 1986).

Thus, language anxiety has been shown to associate negatively with attainment measures such as language course absolute grades (Horwitz, 1986) and performance on a language learning tasks (Macintyre & Gardner, 1989). Gardner and Macintyre (1993) found that amongst thoughts, motivation, and apprehension, method of both classroom anxiety as well as language use anxiety illustrated the strongest associations with several language production measures comprising a close test, a composition task, and an object aptitude measure.

It is found language anxiety correlates more highly with the self-ratings of proficiency than with real performance on the tests of capability (Gardner and Macintyre 1993).  It was found that concerned students lean to undervalue their capability and fewer nervous students lean to overrate their capability (Macintyre, Noels, & Clément, 1997). Communication anxiety has also been extensively studied, not simply in the field of language education, but also in the field of speech communication (Daly, 1991). Though communication anxiety refers to first language anxiety, it is alleged that it is theoretically similar to language anxiety in that they both demote to anxiety concerning communicating (Daly, 1991; Horwitz et al., 1986).

Cognitive and Affective Factors

Cognitive and Affective Factors are found to be the prominent factor in language anxiety. This set of factors comprises motivation, anxiety, and language learning strategies. All of these are an obvious source of distinction in language learning.

Language learning motivation is “the degree to which the individual works or strives to learn the language because of a desire to do so and the contentment experienced in this activity” (Gardner 1985:10).

Motivational orientation refers to the motive that a person has determined to learn a language (Oxford 1996b). Early on Canadian work on motivational orientations showed those second language learners who required amalgamating to some degree into the target culture were more skilled than those who learned the language for career or academic purposes (Gardner 1985; Gardner and Lambert 1972). Crookes and Schmidt (1991) and Dörnyei (1990, 1994) argued that the instrumental orientation is more significant to foreign language proficiency. Clément, Dörnyei, and Noels (1994) recognized five motivational orientations:

1. To make friends and travel

2. To recognize with the objective language group

3. To know different peoples, cultures, and world proceedings

4. To proceed academically or competently

5. To comprehend English-language media.

During nineties, researchers proposed new models of language learning motivation. For example, Dörnyei’s (1994) model restrains three levels. The language level imitates cultural-affective, intellectual, and practical values linked with the target language and has two subsystems: integrative and instrumental. The learner levels concerns fairly established personality traits of the learner, such as linguistic self-confidence and needs for achievement. The learning situation level imitates situation explicit motives and includes course, teacher, and group-specific components.

A model by Crookes and Schmidt (1991) contains the following: (a) interest, (b) relevance, (c) expectation of success, (d) outcomes, (e) decision to engage in learning, (f) perseverance, and (g) high activity level. Schmidt, Kassabgy, Boraie, Jacques, and Moody (1996) empirically created a model of motivation (value, anticipation, and motivational strength), instructional preferences, and learning strategies. Tremblay and Gardner (1995) developed an extreme complex, empirically imitative model of language learning motivation.

Self-referential judgments, such as self-esteem and self-efficacy, are judgments the learner makes concerning herself or himself. Ascriptions (Weiner 1986) and a locus of control (Rotter 1966) is also significant but have not been studied adequately in the language learning field.

Self-esteem is a decision of one’s own personal worth or value. Global self-esteem takes place when the person is approximately the mental age of eight and is based on two factors: (a) self-perceptions of proficiency in broad areas, such as academics, sports, social relations, or physical appearance, and (b) a personal appraisal of the significance of these areas. Situational self-esteem relates to a specific setting, event, or activity type. A language student can feel normally good about himself or herself (global self-esteem) but concurrently experience low situational self-esteem in a pessimistic language learning environment (Scarcella and Oxford 1992).

Self-efficacy refers to one’s judgments about one’s own capability to succeed on a task or enduring effort. Individuals who doubt their potentials might loosen their efforts while facing serious problems, but those with strong self-efficacy make better efforts to master challenges (Bandura 1982; Pintrich and Schunk 1996). Self-efficacy was improved by tutoring in language learning strategies in a study by Chamot et al. (1996).

Learning strategies

Learning strategies are steps or processes used by learners to learn more efficiently, that is, to ease acquisition, storage, reclamation, and use of information (Rubin 1987). Learning strategies are correlated to learning styles, personality, and culture (Cohen 1998; Ehrman and Oxford 1995). Cohen (1998) distinguished between language learning strategies and language-use strategies, while O’Malley and Chamot (1990) and Oxford (1990) presented two comprehensive categorizations of language learning strategies. The O’Malley-Chamot categorization contained two main sets of strategies, cognitive (such as taking notes, delineation, concerning new with old material) and meta-cognitive (e.g., planning, organizing, evaluating), and a smaller third set, socio-affective (e.g., asking questions for amplification or corroboration). Oxford’s categorization included cognitive, meta-cognitive, memory linked, social, affective, and compensatory strategies.

Relations between strategy use and language proficiencies were originally observed through the “good language learner” explorations (Naiman et al. 1978; Rubin 1975), which resulted in Common profiles of successful language learners, recognized specific patterns of strategy use as achievement markers. Later studies showed no consistent pattern of specific strategies amongst successful language students. Fewer capable learners used strategies in a random, independent, and uncontrolled manner (Vann and Abraham 1990). In the 1990s, strategy use was correlated to language proficiency in more than thirty studies around the world (e.g., Dreyer and Oxford 1996; O’Malley and Chamot 1990; Park 1994; Rost and Ross 1991; Takeuchi 1993, 1999), but the relationships were at times highly complex. Effects of learning strategy instruction on equally proficiency and self-efficacy are the centres of much research (Chamot et al. 1996; Rost and Ross 1991).

Social Psychological Perspective

The initial investigation of individual differences in second language acquisition from the social psychological perspective was conducted by Gardner and Lambert (1959). They studied high school students learning French as a second language in Montreal and found that two issues were linked with achievement in French. One was ability; the other was motivation. They concluded that the motivation was “considered by willingness to be like valued members of the language community” (p. 271).

As, there have been copious studies of the relation between attitudes and motivation as well as achievement (e.g., Gardner 1985; Gardner and Lambert 1972). Clément and Gardner (2000) present a graph, based on an unpublished survey of three databases (PsycLit, ERIC, and Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts), of the number of analysis published between 1985 and 1994 that dealt with individual difference variables in second language acquisition. In this ten-year period, 496 studies dealt with attitudes and 218 with motivation. Perceptibly some articles referred to both attributes, and not all of them referred just to attitudes directly linked to the social psychological perspective, but it is apparent that there has been an active interest in the field.

The initial social psychological model was outlined by Lambert (1967, 1974), who proposed that ability, approaches, orientation, and motivation encourage the development of bilingual proficiency and that this can have a consequence on one’s self-identity. Lambert (1974) illustrious between two types of bilingualism, additive and subtractive, that imitate the effect of second language acquisition on a self-identity and correlated them to diverse language contexts. Additive bilingualism was seen to pertain to members of the majority who learn the language of a minority, who do not mislay any of their own ethnic distinctiveness but develop proficiency in the other language. Subtractive bilingualism, conversely, is more distinguishing of minority group members who, in learning the language of the majority, run the risk of losing several of their own cultural identity.

Given that, there are a number of models proposed, each of them altering the focus slightly and adding and subtracting elements. Gardner and Smythe (1975) proposed a model that engaged the elements of Lambert’s social psychological model but extended it to take into account the language learning situation, distinctive between formal and informal language learning frameworks. This model, now referred to as the socio-educational model, has developed since then (Gardner 1985, 2000) and has become much more formal, operationalizing the conception in terms of measures of explicit attributes. Presently, it centres on six latent constructs: language aptitude, approaches toward the learning situation, integrativeness, motivation, language anxiety, and language attainment, though language anxiety plays a trivial role in the theoretical model. Gardner and Smythe also developed and harmonized the Attitude/Motivation Test Battery [AMTB], which assesses the eleven variables in their model. The idea of the integrative motive is hypothesized to involve the three constructs: attitudes toward the learning situation, integrativeness, and motivation; it can be considered by aggregating scores on eight of the variables measured by the AMTB. A determination of instrumental orientation is integrated in the measures but is not a construct underlined in the model. Through the exception of attitudes toward the learning situation and language anxiety, this model shares put up with Lambert’s model, and, though a self-identity is not clearly identified in it, the concept of integrativeness entails the willingness to recognize with the other language community.

Another model in this custom is the social context model (Clément 1980). It has numerous constructs that are related to those in Gardner’s model, with the exclusion of attitudes toward the learning situation, although sometimes conceptualizes and measures them in a different way. A foremost feature of this model is that it centres on the linguistic nature of the community, distinctive between uni cultural and multicultural communities. Additionally, it restrains additional constructs such as fear of integration, contact with the language, and self-confidence with the language. Afterwards developments (Clément, Dörnyei, and Noels 1994) added appraisals of the classroom environment (similar conceptually to attitudes toward the learning condition in the socio-educational model but not measured by them to be part of integrative motivation).

Another model was proposed by Dörnyei (1994) to place more stress on an educational viewpoint of motivation and properly including both integrative and instrumental motivational subsystems. This model recognizes three components of motivation, differentiating among the language levels, the learner level, and the learning situation level, and conciliation seventeen constructs, some of which entail more than one measure. Numerous of the constructs linked with the latter level are diverse from those proposed in the previous models, but those in the first two levels are equivalent to those in at least one of the Lambert, Gardner, or Clément models.

There are other models that could be examined but these four is most representative of the social psychological perspective because each entails the concept of motivation, recognition with the other cultural community, and the development of near-native proficiency. MacIntyre, Clément, Dörnyei, and Noels (1998) have planned a formal model that contains six levels, with “communication behaviour” at the top and “social and individual context” at the bottom. Twelve majors constructs, numerous assessed by more than one measure, form the fundamentals of these levels, but the main principle is the willingness to converse in the second language, not second language achievement. One thing that is evident from these five models is that each time a new model is proposed, it is more composite than its antecedent in that it encompasses more variables. This is important in that it focus’ attention on more variables that might be significant, but it has drawbacks, too, in that with a greater complication comes less frugality, making experiential verification more difficult.

In the end of this research, I must say that motivation plays very important role in minimising anxiety of foreign language learning. I have discussed four models which are used for enhancing a motivation factor. There are other models that could be examined but these four is most representative of the social psychological perspective because each involves the concept of motivation, identification with the other cultural community, and the development of near-native proficiency.

Moreover, instrumental motivation might be more important for foreign language learners than for second language learners, for whom integrative motivation may be the more influential. Now I will highlight some issue facing by current researchers.

Current Research Issues

Currently, this is an extremely active research field, with various diverse issues under consideration. First, there is some controversy as to whether this approach is the only one that pertains to second language learning. A call for a new approach to the exploration of motivation was made by Crookes and Schmidt (1991), and this was increased by a lively exchange in the 1994/1995 issue of the Modern Language Journal. There have been a number of models and approaches projected since then, but each of them seems to be more determined on classroom performance than on the expansion of bilingual skill.

Second, there are several divergences about which is the more significant for second language acquisition, integrative or instrumental orientations, and/or whether there are other types of orientation (e. g., Clément and Kruidenier 1983). This can be linked to a third issue, namely the difference between foreign and second language environments. For instance, Oxford (1996b) proposes that a foreign language is typically learned in an environment where the language is rarely used or experienced, while a second language is learned in a setting where that language is characteristically used by the majority of individuals for daily communication. This division has been made by numerous others, and it has even been recommended that the motivations of individuals in the two diverse environments would be quite different. Thus, Dörnyei (1990) proposes that instrumental motivation might be more important for foreign language learners than for second language learners, for whom integrative motivation may be the more influential. This is a persuasive hypothesis, and it is certainly reasonable to assume that the language context influences the dynamics of language acquisition (Clément 1980); however, it is imprudent to tie this distinction to the labels “foreign” and “second language” acquisition. Instead, it must be associated with an analysis of the ethno linguistic vivacity of the language in the community in terms of the relevant demographics (Giles, Bourhis, and Taylor 1977). Merely using the label “foreign” and “second language” as indicators of this vivacity can be very misleading. For instance, French and English are both measured second languages in Canada, but this is merely because they are the official languages. Some parts of Canada are relatively French/English bilingual, but many are not. For example, according to the 1996 Canada census, only 12 percent of the population in the province of Ontario knows French. Captivatingly, this is where much of the research by Gardner has been conducted, and his research is often referred to by others as signifying why integrative motivation is significant for the learning of a second language. At times the added meaning linked with foreign and second language simply does not apply. Thus, based on these types of numbers, much of Gardner’s research would be considered as taking place in a foreign language environment.

Another issue concerns the role of the classroom in motivation. One way of believing this issue from the social psychological viewpoint is to distinguish between trait motivations, as continuing relatively stables’ attribute, and state motivation, which is viewed as less stable and more vulnerable to environmental characteristics (cf. Boekaerts 1986). As the social psychological perspective centres on the development of bilingual skill, the motivational characteristics are viewed as moderately long-lasting. Those models that centre attention on motivation generated in the classroom (Williams and Burden 1997) are apprehensive with more situationally relevant elements of motivation. It is true that they might endure for the length of the course, and possibly beyond, but the focus in the models and related research is the effect of the classroom environment. Thus, this type of approach seems to have more insinuations for state motivation in the immediate situation, with longer range implications later on. Whether or not continued high levels of state motivation would eventuate in changes in trait motivation is an open empirical question.

References:

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