THE IMPACT OF LANGUAGES LEARNING IN A GLOBALISED AND A DIVERSE WORLD: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF SELECTED LEARNING GROUPS IN SYRIA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Reading University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:This study compares and contrasts the reasons for learning a foreign language, and the experiences of two groups of mature language students, students in England learning Arabic, and a group of students in Syria learning English. It is the first comparative study of students learning one another’s language, in which the languages belong to different language families. Since language learning between language families is becoming increasingly important as a result of globalization, this kind of study is vital.
The methodology was the use of a questionnaire, enabling a straight forward comparison of students’ responses; and the questions were brief and simple, such that the students could answer them in a few minutes at the start of the class, ensuring 100% response rate of students questioned. Contrary to expectations the reasons of each group learning a foreign language are quite similar, with improvements in career prospects being the major motivation in both groups. Again contrary to expectations there were marked differences in experiences: the Arab students learning English preferred writing and reading, while English students learning Arabic prefer conversation; and the Arab students made far greater use of the internet as an aid to learning.
However, as English is the most common language on computers, e-learning has not reached its potential when learning a specific MFL e.g. Arabic. A lack of ability in English prevents the passing of online examinations and progression to formal qualifications at higher levels. In a similar fashion, the shortage of appropriate websites and software or the poor level of English in certain countries affects learning.
The study was subject to various limitations: the questions were inevitably somewhat superficial, and experience showed some flaws in the way they were framed. For both groups the questions were in English, so the Arab students were not answering in their native tongue. The main value of the study lies in its indication of the need for deeper research into this field.
Acknowledgements- The author would like to thank the Department of Education at Anglia Ruskin University for their support in this research.