WHAT AFFECTS MOTIVATION IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING IN THE SECONDARY EDUCATION IN GREECE? THE EXPERIENCE OF THE 2ND EXPERIMENTAL SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL OF THESSALONIKI
Motivation has a crucial role to play in education since it is connected to achievement and autonomous learning. Motivated learners exhibit a willingness to work hard, motivate their peers by promoting collaborative learning, focus more on tasks, and do not need constant encouragement. In the learning context, motivation is related to the subject taught, the teaching methods and material, the teacher’s personality and the dynamic of the group. The teacher can further promote motivation by supporting students and guiding them toward the learning goal.
In the case of a foreign/second language, Gardner supports that motivation is driven by one’s desire to learn the language and the satisfaction one gets in the effort to achieve the desired outcome. The relationship between motivation and achievement/outcome is affected by components such as the learners’ ability, the learning opportunities and quality of instruction. Another component which should not be ignored is instrumentality, i.e., any practical benefits one could get by learning a foreign language, such as better job or a high salary. Gardner’s theory on motivation refers to a positive attitude toward the speakers of a second/foreign language, a desire to interact with them, and respect to other cultural groups and their lifestyle. His Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (AMTB) is directed toward the effort the learners make to learn the language, the extent to which they want to achieve a high level of competence in the language, and the affect experienced while learning the language.
Since motivation is one of the factors which lead to successful foreign language learning, the teacher’s duty is to motivate learners with interesting topics and authentic material, respond to their language needs, increase their interest in the foreign language and culture and render them autonomous, so that they will be finally able to communicate and interact in the target language, and also feel happy when achieving their goal.
Based on the Attitude/Motivation Test Battery, the present study examines five components related to motivation in an English class: the English course, communication, extrinsic goals (instrumentality), the role of the teacher and the role of the learners’ parents. Sixty-five AMTB questions were selected and grouped together to examine the above components. The questionnaire was distributed to about 150 learners at the 2nd Experimental Senior High School of Thessaloniki, Greece in the school year 2014-2015, and the data collected were analyzed by use of the statistical program SPSS.
The results reveal the significance of the English course and the learners’ desire to learn the English language, the learners’ confidence while speaking in the learning environment, the relationship between the English language and practical issues, such as travelling and getting a better job, the important role the teacher plays in motivating the learners, and parents’ acknowledgement of the significance of their children learning the English language.