New technologies and techniques that are practiced in education at the present moment increase the process of learning and its effectiveness, but they work best when students are motivated. Computers, smartboards, Internet, that are used in language learning lead to increase of tuition fees thus economically are ineffective and the quality of education gets only a little bit better. Besides teachers have to spend much more time preparing classes being very pressed for time. So they do not jump into using modern computer technologies.
The aim of this paper is to show the role of motivation in learning the second language at the university. Here we understand motivation as an incentive, which drives a person to obtain a class of stimuli such as achievement, curiosity, prestige etc. Nobody questions the fact that high motivation increases learning. The one who is not motivated to learn a foreign language will probably end up nowhere. We must admit that language learning proceeds at different rates for different persons under the same conditions. For learners of a foreign language (for example English) outside an English-speaking environment the process of learning slows down and successful communication becomes a problem.
Our study and experience allow us to conclude that students learning foreign languages have to overcome at least two critical moments. The background of it lies in fundamental psychological and physical mechanisms of perception and reproduction of new information by people. It is necessary to mention that learning a second language is more than learning a description of it. This process combines linguistic and psychological as well as other elements (R.Lado). It is also important to bear in mind that when a person speaks the decision to speak is made through motivation.
At the beginning students get enthusiastic about learning, they try to memorize new words, structures, phrases and expect to use them freely soon. But first two months is the so-called latent period, when they accumulate knowledge, learn the rules of language usage, but are not able to use them. There is fear to make mistakes while speaking. They lack confidence in coping with a foreign language. So they become disappointed, lose interest and hope to master the language and drop out of the class or stop doing homework. This is the first critical moment.
If students overcome these obstacles they enter the second stage of learning a language where comprehension should come. They understand teachers and students in the class, but speaking is still a problem because they cannot communicate knowledge, information, ideas, opinions, feelings in English to people. This is the second critical moment.
If students have classes two or three times a week this period lasts for about one or one and a half year when the communicative competence is not developed and students are not able to use the language in an English-speaking environment and it is another disappointment.
There is another problem involved in language learning effectiveness. Foreign language teachers are tied to a specific book and aimed to get their students through an exam which tests specific items in that book (Jane Ravell). Communicative activities in which students can transfer their learning to real situations are not practiced regularly then.
The major questions arising from these issues are how to motivate students, develop linguistic and communicative competences and make the process of learning more effective.
There exist many ways of increasing motivation.
In our opinion while choosing them the following should be taken into consideration.
- The tuition process starts with environment in the classroom. As John Bushman states positive classroom climate almost certainly will not happen by chance. It may develop without intervention by the teacher but usually it is negative and does not produce a setting for effective learning (J.Bushman).
- Since man is social, the urge to communicate is a force that increases language learning (R. Lado).
- The Needs-Satisfaction Cycle is of paramount importance (Louis Imundo). When a person wants to achieve or maintain something he or she will engage in activities to achieve the desired goal. In our case it is to use English to accomplish a certain function or goal.
- While planning classes teachers are recommended to use the following models: ESA (engage, study, activate), ARC (authentic, restricted, clarification), deep end, jungle path (Harmen, Scrivener), role-play, dramatization.
- Communicative Approach works well and preference should be given to activities involving simulation and role-play in the classroom and outsideit.
We believe that the following extra-curriculum activities in developing motivation are effective: Reader´s Theater and Group Presentation Show. These shows are pretty much challenging and enjoyable especially for technical students.
Every semester students of International Centre of Kazan State Technical University who are getting the qualification of a translator in professional communication perform in front of the students, teachers, guests. There is a competition among classes. They work hard to be nominated for "Outstanding acting skills", "The best sense of humor", "The best English", "The most professional performance", "The most friendly group", "The most patriotic performance", "The most stylish performance".
The aim is to get students together outside the classroom to use English, to build up a relationship among students, to increase motivation in learning. The following things seem especially noteworthy here. It is important to mention that activities outside the class save time for class activities, which is restricted by curriculum.
All these activities first help to achieve maximum communication, because they have some stimulus to get them going and second, they communicate more freely because they have a role to hide behind. Besides the vocabulary increases greatly, barriers to learning are reduced, students become self-confident. What else is important is that students do not lose hope in becoming fluent in English, thus spend more time studying themselves at home.
Participation in the Reader´s Theater is very effective even for beginners. While reading the script and acting out at the same time students have a feeling of communication in the language. It allows them to overcome imperceptibly both critical moments in learning foreign languages mentioned above. As a result students who study at International Centre of Kazan State Technical University in the third semester could communicate with their teachers and even foreigners in foreign languages quite freely. Thus our graduates become much more prepared for their professional activity and career.
We would like to state very clearly that language learning effectiveness increased in the groups where these activities had been practiced regularly. As a result students became highly motivated not only as individuals but as a team and got much better results on tests.
We can make the following conclusions:
- Participation in Reader´s Theater and Group Presentation Show helps to build up a relationship with and among students which is of a paramount importance in language learning.
- Dramatization is an extremely valuable way of activating the material. It reduces barriers to learning. When students act out they enjoy it, thus interest to learning increases.
- Learning by doing is extremely effective, students feel successful and it also facilitates learning which takes place in a relaxed and comfortable environment in the classroom and outside it.
So, as Chinese proverb says "What I hear I forget, what I see I remember, what I do I understand". As a result while learning new skills students learn new motives.
The work was submitted to international scientific conference «Modern education. Problems and solutions», Thailand, December, 19-27, 2007, came to the editorial office 21.03.2008