Attitudes to Modern Foreign Language Learning: Insights from by Brendan Bartram

By Brendan Bartram

Drawing at the result of a tri-national comparative survey of secondary students' attitudes in the direction of glossy international Language studying (MFLL), this publication illustrates either the significance and nature of learner attitudes and the contribution of comparative schooling to our realizing of academic issues.Questions thought of include:What is the character of the scholars' attitudes to the tutorial dimensions of studying French, German and English in every one country?To what volume do academic components effect the students' attitudes to studying every one language in every one country?How related are the scholars' attitudes to MFLL inside and among the 3 countries?What decisions should be made concerning the relative importance of academic and socio-cultural impacts on student attitudes to MFLL in each one state? >

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At the same time, however, it seems difficult to exclude the importance of factors located outside the classroom. An examination of attitudes from both educational and sociocultural perspectives would thus seem to allow for a broader analysis of the complex interactions between the factors involved. Attitude determinants By classifying attitudes to language learning on the basis of sociocultural and educational ‘determinants’, we are clearly focusing almost exclusively on contextual variables. In doing so, it is important to be aware that a host of individual factors may be equally influential in attitude formation.

Vasseur and Grandcolas (1997) explain this reaction by referring to the communication difficulties which arise as a consequence of this method. They suggest that the teacher’s ability to maintain communication with language learners is vital, and will be compromised by overuse of the target language, especially in the early stages of learning. This breakdown in communication theory clearly ties in with Stables’ and Wikeley’s ideas on how the target language may adversely affect the pupil–teacher relationship.

Have done nothing to improve pupils’ self-images as language learners, and may have done the reverse’ (p. 30). The authors offer an intriguing explanation for this, suggesting that target-language use may serve to undermine the pupil–teacher relationship by underlining the power differential – the teacher’s likely superior language competence contrasting sharply with the learner’s inferior and more limited ability. Phillips and Filmer-Sankey (1993: 93), who looked at pupil attitudes towards French, German and Spanish, also found that ‘most pupils disliked 46 Attitudes to Modern Foreign Language Learning listening to their teacher talking in the target language’.

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