立 政 治 大 學
N a tio na
l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y
The results and some major findings of this study are further discussed in this chapter so as to explore the answers to the three research questions in the present study. In this chapter, there are three sections elaborating the age effect on the EFL learning motivation among the pupils, seeking the main EFL learning motivating factors among Taiwanese pupils, and investigating the relationship between the EFL learning motivation and overall intrinsic learning motivation.
5.1 Motivation Changes for EFL Learning among Taiwanese Elementary School Students
The results of the MALESC revealed a quite encouraging phenomenon: although the mean scores of all four subscales moderately declined in 4th grade, the results generally showed an increase of EFL learning motivation from 3rd to 6th grades, especially the extrinsic one. Though this outcome is against the major findings of some studies mentioned in the early chapters, the possible reasons actually may echo with some empirical findings in many other studies.
First, some researchers have argued that a great portion of EFL or ESL students are learning English for practical or utilitarian goals mainly connected with travel, job, high salary, advanced studies, good grades, and so forth (Gardner, 1985a; Dörnyei 2006; Nikolov, 1999; Noels, 2003; Ghenghesh, 2010, to name but a few). It is not surprising indeed because English has become a world language. One has to be able
to use it if they want to be internationalized and competitive enough to make a prosperous living. In fact, it is true that people who possess good English abilities earn higher salary than those who do not in Taiwan. That’s why many governments and people from non-English-speaking countries are making every effort to improve their national or personal English abilities, and Taiwan is no exception.
Therefore, this may explain why students’ focused learning factors shifted from interests to practicality and why a durable and forceful increase of extrinsic motivation merged in the course of time. The study conducted by Muñoz and Tragant (2001) also reflected such a practicality-related growth of foreign language learning drive in the course of pupils’ maturation. Arbona (2000) and Barak (1981) also argued that there is a strong connection between career and academic development because students tend to be stimulated to learn if they assume that their learning can lead to something they desire for.
Aside from the reasons discussed above, the following findings may also cast some light on this swelling of pupils’ EFL learning motivation. Older students’
learning motivation may be promoted because of their increased perceptions of the school context. As 5th and 6th graders are the seniors in school, they have been used to the context of school and English courses, making them learn with more confidence and less anxiety. And the less the anxiety, the better the language learning (Brown, 2007).
The results of the open-ended questions 4 and 5 may also support this finding.
There were 196 out of 214 students who pointed out at least one thing that they were pleased with in their English classes. Also, there were 137 out of 214 participants who
answered that they actually had nothing that they disliked in their English classes.
These all indicated most of the participants are positive toward EFL learning. The results of open-ended questions 2 and 3 also gave a clue on this. English was measured as the top one in the rank of their favorite subject list with the greatest amount of approval and the least amount of disapproval. Students were attracted to the fun learning games and activities, pop songs, and even challenging tasks provided by their teachers. All these may reveal that they quite enjoy learning English, which could also be considered one of the main reasons to keep them moving forward.
As mentioned above, classroom activities are a catalyst in learning. Therefore, the pivot to make the class full of meaningful activities, the teachers, should also be taken into consideration. Teachers’ influence on promoting students’ motivation can never be overlooked. Some previous studies have suggested that teachers could enhance students’ willingness to learn if they could be interesting, encouraging, and capable of making the lessons interesting and fun (Ghenghesh, 2010). A study of Cheng and Dörnyei (2007) on Taiwanese teachers also revealed similar findings by reporting that teachers play an important role in elevating students’ learning drive.
Chambers (1999) also indicated that the teacher factor earned the top place in the rank in his study among all the factors that might contribute to students’ learning motivation. What’s more, according to Bowen and Madsen (1978), teaching style may be a primary factor for students’ learning motivation. This could probably explicate why there was a sudden overall EFL learning motivation drop in the 4th grade. The results of the open-ended question 6 showed that 22 out of 52 participants from 4th grade noted that there was too much reading and writing in their English classes and it
was something that they disliked. Also, up to 17 out of 52 4th graders showed a great desire to have more fun learning games and activities. That 17 was a number plausibly exceeded the responses of 5 out of 54 from 3rd, 6 out of 56 from 5th, and 9 out of 62 from 6th grade, indicating students’ expectation for different ways of teaching. Nikolov’s (1999) study on Hungarian pupils also reported that younger students, 3rd and 4th graders, tended to appreciate fun learning games and activities which are also crucial class-related factors that boost students’ motivation.
The researcher, therefore, argues that although studies have revealed that pupils tend to lose their motivation in EFL learning in the course of time, this situation could be turned over with clear practical learning purposes, low anxiety environment, and interesting and children-friendly course designs.