In recent years, TESOL has called for the study of the social and cognitive factors that affect adult English learners’ participation in formal language learning. Numerous research projects have investigated the motivational influences and factors of adult immigrant English. In particular, factors and motivations which led them to take an advanced ESL courses after already having adequate fluency in English to conduct their work and daily lives.
Using both qualitative and quantitative approaches, these studies have frequently uncovered that the ESL students opted to pursue advanced language training to, primarily, join the dominant language culture and community.
Practical reasons, although very important to the learners, seem to be outweighed by the psychological drive to integrate into the culture. Social identity often proves to be the major factor in this process as student motivation often fostered by a self perceived difference between their current and desired identities as assimilated speakers of their new language.
Fundamentally they saw language education as an essential transitional requisite for attainment of this preferred identity.
Introduction The study of TESOL, which can trace its roots applied linguistics, occasionally failed to think about many non-linguistic aspects and situations of use which can influence learning. A large part of this knowledge, though, collected through education and psychology investigations could be applied to the groups of people and areas of interest being considered in TESOL.
In places such as California second-language English users make up 63% of the target adult learners and almost a third in the country overall (Lasater and Elliott, 2004). The literature studied below begins by recapping major endeavors of psychology and education investigation so as to establish a baseline of student’s imperatives to learn. The study later focuses on motivation studies in linguistics related to ESL attainment and advancement.
Part 2 Andragogy and Self-Motivation Andragogy Review of the Literature Adult Learning from a Social Cognitive Perspective The foundation of adult learning theory was established in Lindeman (1926) who identified important distinctions between adult and child learning. These ideas were later developed by Knowles (1990) and constitute the hypothetical learning model dubbed andragogy. Andragogy, a mode of education starkly contrary pedagogy, which is characterized by children being instructed by adults in a directed and authoritarian environment.
Knowles posited that because of significant psychological and physiological differences between youth and adult learners, the modes of educational motivation must be equally disparate. Knowles’s teachings are very well regarded in the education worldwide. Psychological metamorphosis in adult life, human factors brought to the learning situation, adult outside world demands, and life duties distinct from children’s, particularly a greater breadth of life encounters, varied incentives, and educational requirements all act in concert to create a distinctly different mode of motivation for adult learners.
In particular, adult learning, per Knowles (1990), is predicated upon six vital components: 1. Justification for learning, that is, the rationale for desiring the education, before pursuing it. 2. Transformation of the adult concept of the self into that of an independent, self-directed human being. 3. Life experience that influences the adult body of accumulated knowledge, desires as well as being a component factor of self awareness. 4. Developmental willingness and practical feasibility relating to the synchronized pacing of learning experiences to their appropriate phases of emotional maturation. . Problem-centered approach of learning which can immediately be applied to real-life situations. 6. Self-motivation to learn by self-generated factors, as opposed to externally imposed requirements Kolb (1984) offered an expanded depiction of the process as a self-perpetuating process where actual events necessitate a review, analysis leading to later research and proper scientific review. The learner’s assimilation into a different culture and society facilitates creation of educational desires with eventual engagement in a formalized educational environment as a key to attaining the desires.
Learning occurs in myriad encounters/interactions with the student’s world in psychological process. In a social context, the actual knowledge gained is not so much seen as an acquisition but more as one of externalization. A way to get out of one’s self and into their new environment. Cognition of facts occurs which is a pro-active, relevant, and meaningful adult response to confusion created by previous discontinuity. A disjuncture can serve as “the point at which needs and wants and interests converge” . as well as an origin point for jumping into the learning process.
By extending this idea to immigrant experiences, it seems as though basic everyday activity changes caused from immersion in a society which communicates in a foreign tongue, and made all the more real by the imperative to become functional in this society, can create disjuncture in their lives and compel them to pursue ESL education so as to not be overwhelmed. While many will pursue language education at once, others may find that language disjunctures happen later in their lives when greater proficiency beyond basic functional skills is required for a variety of reasons.
Knowledge deficits plus a developed self-concept grounded within a cultural milieu can generate pressing need – a need to learn. Self-Motivation There are many different definitions for Motivation. In an educational context, one of the more comprehensive and useful definitions is from John Keller’s 1983 publication called Motivational Design of Instruction: “the choices people make as to what experiences or goals they will approach or avoid, and the degree of effort they will exert in that respect” (Keller, 1983). Motivation is mercurial in nature.
Keller identified a perception of applicability of the learning presented as fundamental for maintaining long-term motivation. Relevance exceeds the subject’s education requirements to encompass perceptions of satisfaction desired through the process in fulfilling psychological imperative senses of achievement, belonging, power and freedom. Encountering disappointment during a learning situation can dissipate motivation and possible cause learned helplessness (Bandura, 1982; deCharms, 1984; Weiner, 1984) or dismotivation going beyond mere discouragement.
Educational psychology accepts that motivation also varies because of varied contexts in which learning occurs. Studies have brought to light additional connections between the act of learning a language and the evolving perspective of learners in the L2 environment. Peirce (1995) introduced the idea that acquisition of proficiency in a dominant language allowed learnersr to “acquire a wider range of symbolic and material resources [and] increase the value of [the learners’] cultural capital”.
Sfard & Prusak (2005) insinuated that the learning itself is closing the gap between learners’ actual and projected identities. Qualitative studies offer a model of language learning motivation which is dynamic, longitudinal process whereby learners’ cognitions and beliefs (Ushioda, 2001), and relevance of the curriculum to their interests (Syed, 2001) directly affect involvement in learning. Part 3 Language Learners vs Second Language Learners
Linguists only recently have begun distinguishing foreign language students from second language students when studying their drive to pursue language education and have proposed “the dynamics involved in learning these two different types of language may be quite different” (Gardner, 2001). To date, the great majority of these studies are in foreign language (FL) classes. Gardener’s quote was actually taken from a volume containing 20 separate motivation studies, none of which contained ESL students.
ESL students, for whom English was a gateway ability for study in different subjects or earning a university degree, were more compelled by exterior forces to learn than heritage and non-heritage EFL learners. A motivation survey of 580 adult immigrants at a local college based ESL program in Toronto rated the following motives highest: linguistic needs, basic skills, cultural awareness, social interaction, and resume writing (Paper, 1990). It found no significant difference in motives based age, duration of residence or level of education.
The influence of integrative orientation in the data compelled the author to recommend including Canadian culture in the curriculum. Conscious intention of immigrating to the U. S. was another motivating factor for language learning in a separate exploration conducted on adult learners (Brilliant, Lvovich, and Markson, 1995). Student’s beliefs seem to fill a vital role in adult learning accomplishments, consistent with educational psychology, thus making them ideal subjects for motivation research.
A particular study, Bernat (2003), examined the views of 20 unemployed Vietnamese learners in a vocational ESL course in Sydney, Australia. Their scores were high on two motivations: 85% of respondents expressed the integrative desire to develop their interpersonal relations with the Australians better and make friends among them, and all agreed that speaking English well would enhance their prospects for employment.
Part 4 The Attitude Motivation Test Battery (AMTB) This is a large battery of tests which measures a number of different aspects of language learning. The instrument was originally used to measure attitudes of students studying English and French in Canada. Scales included attitudes toward French Canadians, interest in foreign languages, attitudes toward European French people, attitudes toward learning French, integrative orientation, instrumental orientation, anxiety, parental encouragement, motivational intensity, and desire to learn French.
The scale instrument has been modified more recently. The Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (AMTB) is designed to measure different components of the socio-educational model of SLA. There are eleven sub-tests, nine with ten items each, and two with four items. The five main variables assessed in the AMTB are attitudes toward the learning situation, integrativeness, motivation, instrumentality and language anxiety.