Teach English in BAyiji Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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When one decides to learn a new language, people often ask why. The reasons behind choosing a specific language for study instead of another is determined by a variety of factors, such as innate interest in the culture of the language, the language itself, traveling to a country where the language is spoken, etc. However, what all of these reasons have in common to learn a language is that they are linked to the motivation an individual has. On a broad perspective, Dörnyei defines motivation as a force that makes us choose certain things over others, and it also the power that drives a person through the path of that decision. In this sense, motivation can serve as a way to keep a person satisfied and interested in what they are doing. Dörnyei is one of the experts with broad studies on the field of motivation and foreign language learning. In this sense, his framework for the study of motivation tells that there are different levels of complexity when understanding why a student is motivated. Given this, the first variable is placed in the Language Level, and includes all of those reasons why a student chooses a specific language above others. In this level, it can also be found two subsystems, the integrative subsystem and the instrumental subsystem. The former refers to those aspects of the language itself that rise interest in learners, such as the culture, the literature, the sounds and pronunciation of the language, etc. The latter refers to those motivations with an utmost purpose, meaning that the learner is learning a language because it has practical use, such as making business, traveling to that country, etc. However, these subsystems are not exclusory, instead, they can complement each other. According to Dörnyei studies, some learners started having instrumental motivations but later their motivation became more integrative, meaning that they were more attracted to the language itself. As teachers, it is necessary to be able to identify what are the reasons for a learner to learn a language because it can allow the teacher to adapt his teaching content to the needs of the learner. This means that he can find a way to make classes more interesting, including cultural items (if students are interested in culture), or playing music, or videos to make the lessons more dynamic. It can also serve as way to encourage students and guide them through their path of learning a language. Another important component of Dörnyei’s construct is the Learner Level variable, which has to do with the personal and particular traits of each learner, such as their personality, background, etc. Some of the studies conducted by Dörnyei have shown that students keep motivated to learn a language in the long run if their goals are met, reinforcing their sense of achievement. A student’s performance can also be affected by his self-confidence, which is another individual characteristic. Taking this into consideration, if teachers are able to identify which students lack in self-confidence, he can find ways in which this student can feel more comfortable with participating in class next time, or create more activities aimed to strengthen a students’ self-confidence. Additionally, students also have a sense of achievement that could be detrimental because if they do not perceive their progress, they will not feel motivated to keep learning the language. Finally, there is one more variable that can help to understand motivation, this is, the Learning Situation Level. This variable tries to explain the external factors influencing a students’ desire to learn a language. First, there is a course specific motivation, It is a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors that can be materialized into rewards, such as enjoyment, gaining more self-confidence and feeling proud, or more practical outcomes such as being praised or obtaining good scores. Second, there is a Teacher-specific motivational component, which aims to explain that some students have affiliative motives towards the teacher, as well as respect for their authority or gaining his praise. In this sense, students feel motivated to learn a language because they feel comfortable with the teacher and are willing to learn because of him or her. Third, there is a Group-specific motivation. This variable is based on how the whole studying group can influence an individual’s motivation, meaning that the relationship between students, as well as sharing common goals, can be factors influencing their language learning performance. Having a more complex understanding of motivations, can help teachers realize how important it is to keep students motivated to learn. Despite the fact that their reasons for choosing a language are what make them learn it, their motivation can mutate and be influenced by a variety of factors. Students can start learning a language because they want to learn more about culture, but later, they realize that that country is providing good job opportunities, so the student will be more motivated to learn that language in order to get a job. In this sense, students may be forced to learn a language by their parents, but the minute the learner sees the teacher and his/her way of teaching, the student can feel inspired to learn the language and gain the praise of the teacher. As it can be seen, motivation here is not a straightforward component in teaching and learning a language, it is a flexible component that can change and be influenced by different of factors. Nonetheless, it is the job of the teacher to understand not only why students learn a language, but also keep their motivation up throughout the course, finding always new ways to make lessons more interesting and appealing, communicating more with students and show the beautifulness of learning a second or foreign language.