Attitude as a Learner Variable in Learning English in Sri Lanka

Jayantha Ratnayake

Abstract

English language is considered second language in many countries which were colony of the British Empire. The importance of learning English is recognized at present with the advancement of modern technology. Therefore, many studies were conducted by researchers to find out the issues related to English language learning. The learner differences I am going discuss in this paper are some of them which have been received attention by scholars. Language learners’ differences in personality, attitudes or social factors can contribute to the ways and means of learning another language. This paper attempts to discuss issues related to attitudes of language learners as a variable that may directly have an impact on making differences in learning English language in Sri Lankan context. Language learner’s attitude is directly linked with their level of motivation which may lead to learning English as a second language aiming at the different expectations they wish to fulfil by learning it. It further tries to relate the contextual issues to the experience of the writer in learning and teaching English language in the context of Sri Lanka.

Keywords: Second language, Attitude, Ethnocentrism, Learned helplessness, Social status

Introduction

Individual differences in language learning is a topic that has been researched and discussed broadly in the field of English language teaching. According to Johnson (2008), the variables that contribute broadly in making individual differences are “cognitive variables, affective variables and personality variables” (p.113). The most common affective variables are “motivation and attitude”(p.113). According to Johnson (2008) the word affective is “to do with feelings” (p. 113). This paper discusses the attitude as a variable that influences learners in learning English as a second language. This article will examine how various attitudes influence the learners in having positive or negative attitude in learning English as a second language in relation to the context of Sri Lanka. This paper discusses attitudes of English language learning in relation to the experience of my teaching of English for many years. Continue reading

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English as an Additional Language in the UK

James O’Flynn

Abstract

This paper briefly outlines the current situation in UK state schools with regards to provision for English as an Additional Language (EAL) students, that is, students whose first language is not English. The paper highlights the UK’s decentralised approach to EAL funding and the regional variation in academic achievement of EAL students. The paper goes on to suggest that, in order close regional achievement gaps, the UK adopts a new approach with more direction from central government.

Keywords: UK, EAL, ESL, bilingual education, funding

Introduction

Tabloid headlines, such as ‘The primary [school] where pupils speak 42 different languages’ (Daily Mail, 2016), serve as regular reminders that 8% of the UK’s population do not speak English as their first language (Office for National Statistics, 2011). In fact, there are now over one million students in UK schools who speak English as an Additional Language (EAL) (Naldic, 2015). These numbers are hardly revelatory when you consider the UK’s historical status as an imperial power and, more recently, its place in the European single market. Yet, despite the long and colorful history of migration in the UK and the ensuing increase in EAL students, the UK lacks a centralized approach to providing bilingual education. In this short paper, I will discuss why this is unsuitable and unsustainable and suggest that a centralized approach be adopted.

The UK’s Approach to English as an Additional Language Provision in Schools

Since 2013, Local Authorities (LAs) have been able, but not required, to factor EAL provision into their budget. In 2014/2015, 87% of all LAs decided to include this provision in their budget (Naldic, 2015), but, quite alarmingly, some that did not include an EAL factor had a high concentration of EAL students. In Leicester city, for example, 49% of students are classified as speaking EAL (Strand, Malmberg and Hall, 2015, p. 5), yet the LA chose not to include an EAL factor (Naldic, 2015). Furthermore, there is geographical variation in the amount of funding allocated to each EAL student. Because funding decisions are made by the LA, not central government, monetary allocations range from £250 to £1000 per student in primary schools, and from £47 to £4500 per student in secondary schools depending on location (Naldic, 2015). This variation augers well for students located in the more generous LAs, but, as we shall see, not for those located in the less generous LAs. Continue reading

Languages in Korea: Status, Roles and Attitudes

Katie Webb

Abstract

This paper will draw on current literature and my experience as an English teacher in South Korea (henceforth Korea). I aim to explore the status of English and other languages in Korea and the roles that English and other languages play in education and business. Finally, I will turn to the attitudes people have towards English. Rather than attempt an exhaustive discussion on all attitudes towards English I have chosen to focus on negative attitudes and endeavour to highlight the underlying causes of these attitudes. I have chosen to use three headings, all based on claims I have heard various students make, to show how attitudes towards English are internalized. The three headings are: (I) There is too much importance placed on English, (II) English education costs too much and is causing a class disparity and (III) English is threatening our national identity and culture.

Keywords: Korea, English, national identity, status, attitudes

Introduction

In everyday communication, most of the Korean population use the national language Korean or a local variant. Although it has not always been the trend, in fact, under Japanese occupation, Koreans were forced to abandon their mother tongue and communicate in Japanese (1910-1954) (Song, 2012, p. 22). For that reason, many Koreans were proficient in Japanese long after independence. However, despite this history and the geographical proximity of Japan, the number of people speaking Japanese (inclusive of both Japanese nationals and foreign nationals) in Korea is considered to be negligible (ibid).

Status and roles of English and other languages

Many other minority languages are known to be spoken in the country, specifically, Chinese, English, Thai, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, etc (ibid, p. 14). Due to the growing population of foreign nationals, this number is increasing and thus the likelihood of hearing ‘other languages’ in daily life is rising (Moon, 2015, p. 3). At present, the largest minority language spoken in Korea is Mandarin (Song, 2012, p. 22) but, despite the proximity to China, Koreans are currently more focused on achieving English proficiency. The enthusiasm for English in Korea is illustrated by the recurrent debate by the government on whether to adopt English as an official language (Song, 2012, p.7).

Continue reading

Why and How should Teachers be Encouraged to Take Control of heir Own Professional Development?

Betelhem Taye

Abstract

Over the last decade, English language teachers’ CPD had been of a major interest to researchers more than ever before as countries in the world continue striving to ensure excellence in the teaching of the language. ‘CPD’ stands for ‘Continuous or Continuing Professional Development and generally indicates the course of continuing growth of a professional after joining a profession’ (Padwad & Dexit, 2011, p. 7). The characteristics that embody effective professional development vary widely in the literature as contexts are acknowledged to be of diverse from one another. Thus, there are no fixed descriptions of what guarantees a successful CPD for teachers but there is a consensus that encouraging teachers to take control of their own development ensures overall satisfactory results. But, why and how should teachers be encouraged to take control of their own CPD? This article provides a valuable input to address these important questions through critical arguments made by the writer and critical backups from the literature.

Keywords: CPD, trainings, self-CPD, workshops

Introduction

Early high rate burnout and attrition is experienced more often in teaching profession than any other professions in many countries across the world because of teachers’ extreme lack of motivation to stay in the career (Richardson et al., 2014). This issue of teachers’ lack of motivation is even worse in African countries as the profession is alleged to have been looked down by respective governments. Most teachers relate the lack of their motivation to teach with their poorly paid state of affairs and compensation packages their governments fail to provide (see for example Nyankongo, 2015; Aluko, 2010; Dehaloo, 2011). Several studies, however, have found out that there are other factors more than the low salary issue that are affecting teachers’ motivation and teaching performances (Guajardo, 2011; Dhaloo, 2011; Hettiarachchi, 2013; Day, 1999).

For teachers, incentives are related to teacher job satisfaction, but not to teacher classroom practices. Thus, it appears that while teachers need housing, food, safety, belonging etc… to be professionally motivated, the provision of these needs past a baseline requirement is not suitable driver of teacher motivation. Instead, teachers need supports that encourage their intrinsic or internal motivation; such as achievement, recognition and career development. (Chapman et al. cited in Guarjardo, 2011, p. 7)

Professional development throughout one’s teaching career is the focus of this paper as it is an internal motivator for teachers to attain job satisfaction and secure their profession for long. According to Husman et al. (2014), it is the connection teachers make between their past, present and future ‘professional-self’ that motivates them to stay in the profession (p. 183). Teachers’ Continuous Professional Development (CPD) frameworks are formally set in many countries to train teachers new skills, subject-matter knowledge, and pedagogical expertise within a set of timeframes. Continue reading

Developing Mentee’s Identity as a Teacher

Komila Tangirova

Abstract

Mentorship is a rewarding process, beneficial both for a mentor and a mentee. However, various factors are to be taken into account for making it effective. Having participated in the Mentoring Programme with MA students, I have come to realise that being a mentor does not only involve transferring your knowledge to inexperienced teachers, but letting them explore their own potentials and boosting their confidence in becoming a teacher. In this paper, the qualities of effective mentoring and the approaches that are important in the development of a mentee’s identity as a teacher will be investigated based on research in this area as well as the data collected during my own mentoring experience.

Keywords: mentorship, teacher identity, mentor, mentee, effective

Introduction

Various definitions for mentoring are provided in the literature (Leaver & Oxford, 2000; Arnold, 2006; Pitton, 2006; Bozeman & Feeney, 2007; Jonson, 2008; Hobson, 2009; Nakamura et al. 2009; Lea, 2011; Delaney, 2012; Laverick, 2016). For me, personally, mentoring has felt to be the process of providing professional assistance with minimal intrusion into mentees’ developing own styles of teaching. Having participated in the Mentoring Programme with MA students, I have come to realise that being a mentor does not only involve transferring your knowledge to inexperienced teachers, but letting them explore their own potentials and boosting their confidence in becoming a teacher. In this paper, the qualities of effective mentoring and the approaches that are important in the development of a mentee’s identity as a teacher will be investigated based on research in this area as well as the data collected during my own mentoring experience.

Effective mentorship

First, it is important to look into what effective mentoring is and how to approach this task professionally. As I started mentoring, I was concerned about doing it right. I also felt I needed some theory and knowledge of how to mentor, as taking on this responsibility without prior research and preparation seemed challenging. Delaney emphasises the resemblance of good mentoring with good teaching (2012, p. 188). Parallels that he draws between these two, in my opinion, noble tasks are reasonable. However, he also questions whether “mentoring is really a skill that can be learned” (2012, p. 198). The answer to this seems to be given in Sanchez et al. who argue that “being a good mentor is not necessarily an inherent skill” and cite Athanases and Achinstein pointing out that “good mentors are developed through conscious, deliberate, ongoing learning” (2006, p. 3). In addition, “just as having good subject knowledge is not enough to be a good teacher, so being a good teacher is not enough to be a good mentor, it requires additional skills and knowledge” (Malderez and Bodóczky, 1999, p. 18). Continue reading

Being a Teacher: Challenges and Rewards

Betânia Mota Pereira

Before my degree in Languages, I used to dream of being a teacher without considering its challenges. It took me a long time to be aware that teaching is a tough daily task. It brought me one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, though.

By the time I finished graduation, I was already beginning to notice how things were different in many ways than I used to picture then. At the time, however, I still thought: “I can do it. So, I will do it.” I was too self-confident and although I know this is a very welcomed trait, too much self-confidence made me make mistakes.

My first experience teaching might have been perfect for a beginner, except for the fact that two students changed it. One student asked me about something I did not know the answer, and the other one questioned me whether I was familiar with every single word in English. These issues opened up my mind somehow, because they were responsible for narrowing down my expectations and increasing my critical thinking.
After overcoming this barrier, it was only a matter of time before I had to face another difficulty: time management. I had no idea how to deal with it. I spent my days doing activities that kept me busy and altogether they were not as effective as they should be. Gradually, I started to realize I was wasting my time and feeling more stressed. Taking into account my previous experience, I established a framework for success of time management. First of all, I divided my tasks into two groups: those which worked well and those which did not. Next, I adopted the useful ones and included them on my schedule. Moreover, I understood that taking breaks played a key role in this topic. On balance, I learnt how to repurpose my planning in order to be a better teacher.

Continue reading

Welcome to the Ninth Issue of The Warwick ELT

Editorial…

“Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.”

– George Whitefield

We are very much pleased to bring the Ninth issue of the Warwick ELT. At this point, we have felt that we have walked a long way unitedly, yes, by pressing forward as Whitefield suggests. While planning for this publication venture, in our first meeting, we had also dreamt of the possibility of bringing out a print volume of ‘The Warwick ELT’ which can be associated with what Whitefield calls as the mark we had set before, and at this point, we are very much glad to share with you that we are also coming with the print volume of ‘The Warwick ELT’ (ISSN: 2515-3668) in mid September. Indeed, this has been possible due to the support of the Centre for Applied Linguistics, the University of Warwick, the Hornby Educational Trust, UK, the British Council, UK, guest editors of the print volume and our advisors.

We feel welcomed and encouraged as we have been receiving contributions from several authors across the globe. In this issue, we have got two authors from Nepal and one from Venezuela.

In the first paper, Dr. Binod Luitel from Nepal discusses how the translation bridge strategy,  particularly related to the use of L1 in the English language classroom, is found to be the effective strategy to help learners in reading comprehension. Indeed, the use of L1 in EFL or ESL teaching is always a debatable issue. The author, in this paper, has shown how some bilingual materials can ease learners in reading comprehension. Although his research is based in Nepal, the finding can be equally transferred to other context where English is taught as a foreign language.

In the second article, Pitambar Paudel talks about the experiences of the teachers on the shift to the English as a medium of instruction (EMI) in Nepal. Through his qualitative study, he shows how it has also impacted on their methodology.  His findings show that implementing EMI in the schools has developed positive attitude in both teachers and students. However, as a suggestive note, he also points out that there is also a role of a multilingual country like Nepal to nurture and focus on other national languages while promoting English.

Last but not least, in this issue, Reina Ruiz and Jesus Medina from Venezuela highlight the importance of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses for Earth Science pre-service teachers in Venezuela. One of their strong claims is that EAP courses can enable Earth Science pre-service teachers to have wider access to information as many research publications related to this course can be found in the English language.

For your ease, we have hyperlinked each article below.

  1. Translation Bridge as a Facilitator in ESL Reading Comprehension: Empirical Evidence by Dr Binod Luitel
  2. Teachers’ Experiences on shifting Medium of instruction to English in Nepal by Pitambar Paudel
  3. 3. English for Academic Purposes for Earth Science Pre-Service Teachers: A Venezuelan case by Reina Ruiz & Jesus Medina

As usual, we appreciate your comments and feedback. You might comment directly on the article, or if you have generic comment or feedback, you might write to us at thewarwickelt@gmail.com

Enjoy reading!

Editors,

Sagun Shrestha & Hayley Wong

August Issue Editors