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The role of context in forming young learners' attitudes and motivation to learning French

Courtney, L. (2013) The role of context in forming young learners' attitudes and motivation to learning French. In: Archibald, E. (ed.) Multilingual Theory and Practice in Applied Linguistics. Proceedings of the 45th Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics. British Association for Applied Linguistics, pp. 47-50. ISBN 9780955953354

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Official URL: http://www.baal.org.uk/proceedings_2012.pdf

Abstract/Summary

Despite the wealth of valuable information that has been generated by motivation studies to date, there are certain limitations in the common approaches. Quantitative and psychometric approaches to motivation research that have dominated in recent decades provided epiphenomenal descriptions of learner motivation within different contexts. However, these approaches assume homogeneity within a given group and often mask the variation between learners within the same, and different, contexts. Although these studies have provided empirical data to form and validate theoretical constructs, they have failed to recognise learners as individual ‘people’ that interact with their context. Learning context has become increasingly explicit in motivation studies, (see Coleman et al. 2007 and Housen et al. 2011), however it is generally considered as a background variable which is pre-existing and external to the individual. Stemming from the recent ‘social turn’ (Block 2003) in SLA research from a more cognitive-linguistic perspective to a more context-specific view of language learning, there has been an upsurge in demand for a greater focus on the ‘person in context’ in motivation research (Ushioda 2011). This paper reports on the findings of a longitudinal study of young English learners of French as they transition from primary to secondary school. Over 12 months, the study employed a mixed-method approach in order to gain an in-depth understanding of how the learners’ context influenced attitudes to language learning. The questionnaire results show that whilst the learners displayed some consistent and stable motivational traits over the 12 months, there were significant differences for learners within different contexts in terms of their attitudes to the language classroom and their levels of self-confidence. A subsequent examination of the qualitative focus group data provided an insight into how and why these attitudes were formed and emphasised the dynamic and complex interplay between learners and their context.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
ID Code:34998
Additional Information:Multilingual Theory and Practice in Applied Linguistics Proceedings of the 45th Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics 6-8 September 2012 University of Southampton Edited by Alasdair N. Archibald
Publisher:British Association for Applied Linguistics

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