A Study on English Learning Motivation of the Aviation Flight and Command Majors
|School||Changchun University of|
|Course||Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics|
|Keywords||learning motivation Social Constructivism Model pilot-cadet external causes recommendation|
Today, tens of thousands of people are learning English for various needs in our country. However, the acquisition of English is quite different according to different person. There are a number of factors that affect English study, and the most important one is learner himself. As for a learner, learning motivation is the most dynamic one in all the personal factors. English learning motivation has already caused wide concern of many researchers and educators.Scholars of different psychological schools have made their study of motivation from different theoretical perspectives, such as Biological Perspective, Behavioral Perspective, Cognitive Perspective, Humanistic Perspective, etc. Each perspective has its own explanation of motivation. Therefore, there are abundant theories and researches concerning motivation. Different as the above theories are, they all concern the center of study----the essence of learning and the way of learning. Though the above schools have made great contribution to the study of motivation, every study has its own limitation. In other words, the study of motivation has always been single-disciplined or single-viewed, and the stimulation of motivation is too narrow and unilateral. If behaviorism treats the organism as a black box, cognitive theory recognizes the importance of the mind in making sense of the material with which it is presented. Nevertheless, it still presupposes that the role of the learner is primarily to assimilate whatever the teacher presents. In 1990’s, Williams & Burden’s Social Constructivism Model came out, which emphasized the important effects of teachers and contexts in stimulating learning motivations.According to Williams & Burden, there are four elements which are closely intertwined in the concrete teaching-learning process. They are learners, teachers, tasks and contexts.In the process of EFL (English as foreign language) study, we can easily find that learners have various beliefs in English, English study. Their beliefs are closely related to their motivation in the process of EFL study. Individuals will tend to learn what they think is worth learning; learners may pay attention to different aspects of English study according to their different beliefs. Thus, learners’motivation may also be stimulated through their own strategies.According to the constructivist, teachers should become more self-aware with the ways they regard to their beliefs and the ways in which they make sense of the world, particularly with regard to their views about education and how those views themselves come to be shaped. In the social constructivist approach, teachers feel able to work with their learners as democratic explorers rather than individual explorers. As important as their views about learners are teachers’ beliefs about learning, which will influence the way in which they teach. It is also important that the teacher brings to the teaching-learning relationship as a person. Teachers can affect learning in a range of ways that go far beyond the transmission of knowledge. The ways include teaching learners learning how to learn, boosting their confidence, stimulating their learning motivation, displaying their personal interests, enhancing their self-esteem and organizing appropriate learning environments, etc.A task is any activity that learners engage in furthering the progress of learning a language. In the social constructivist model learners are the focus, and the purpose of cultivating learners is the whole person, which can be defined as a general task of EFL study. And the tasks that will arouse a range of feelings and emotions on the part’of the learners are the special tasks. Tasks will affect the ways in which the learners make sense of and carry out the activities.Social constructivist believes that learning never takes place in a vacuum. Understanding the ways in which environment affects learning, is particularly important for language teachers and learners. The whole context has a significant influence on any learning that takes place in it.The above theories inspire the author to explore a real case----the English learning motivation of Aviation Flight & Command majors, which she faced in her years of teaching career. The author wants to find out the extrinsic elements which affect the learners’English learning motivation greatly, and effective ways on how to improve the learners’learning motivation by improving these extrinsic elements.Aviation University of Air Force is the only institution, which provides the basic academic and physical training for pilots in China. When they graduate, the cadets here will be the main part of our Air Force and the pillar of our Defense. Today, the development of Air Force and national defense primarily depends on improving soldiers’knowledge level. But the level can’t be improved in one day.Based on years of teaching experience, the author speculates that poor foundations, physical fatigue, no pressure from the employment, teaching materials’selection and less free time are the main elements that affect the pilot-cadet’s learning motivation.In order to verify the speculations and find out effective ways that can be used to stimulate pilot-cadet’s learning motivation, the author made the research by the guidance of the Social Constructivism Model. Before writing the paper, the author read a lot of relevant literatures to understand the history and status of learning motivation theories; then the author conducted a questionnaire survey and interviews in 2007 and 2008 cadets from "Aviation Engineer" and "Aviation Flight and Command" majors in our university; after calculating and analyzing the results, the author started the writing. In this paper, the author gives some useful suggestions on English teaching according to the analyses.Via analyzing the results of the survey, the author gets the following conclusions:1) Pilot-cadets’interests on English are not so high. One reason is poor foundations make them feel lost in English class, little even no progress in study makes them lose the learning motivation; the other reason is the present teaching materials are worthless to study in their minds.2) Teachers’knowledge level, their attitude towards teaching and cadets, their teaching styles all influence cadets’learning motivation.3) Pilot-cadets are not satisfied with present learning tasks. The reflection is that the cadets are not satisfied with learning the present textbook only. That is, the interfaces between teachers and pilot-cadets now are not quite proper. The difficulty of textbook is not the element which affects their learning motivation, but the dull language-points-study can’t attract them.4) Pilot-cadets generally believe that the school context instead of the social context affects their English study greatly.From the above conclusion we can see that pilot-cadets complain about the external-causes more than internal-causes. This indicates that the 80’s-Generations lack of the sense of responsibility and persistence. Their thoughts are not fixed and their learning motivations are not clear enough.According to these conclusions the author gives out the following recommendations:First, recommendations for teachers:1) Teachers, who want to improve the English teaching, should start with perfecting themselves as follows:constantly improve their knowledge and share the common interests with cadets; try to establish a relaxed atmosphere in class for cadets to study; help the pilot-cadet develop a sense of self-confidence.2) During the teaching process, there are two tasks for teachers:one is imparting the book knowledge; the other is leading cadets to what they should learn, and arousing their thirst for knowledge, then enlightening them to study automatically. Teachers should give the same consideration to both of the two tasks. Meanwhile teachers should try their best to maximize the role of teaching materials.3) When cadets feel confused about the new university life and study, give them immediate guidance and concern.Second, recommendations for tasks: 1) Choose appropriate methods according to pilot-cadet’s characteristics.2) Choose appropriate learning tasks to meet pilot-cadet’s needs.3) Revise the teaching material structure, adding assistant teaching materials to stimulate cadets’learning interests.Third, recommendations for micro-contexts:1) Strengthen building the hardware to create a better learning environment.2) Carry out extra-curricular activities with great extensive participation.3) Improve the unreasonable parts in curriculum.4) Try our best to create an academic atmosphere.5) Improve the present assessment system.6) Carry out academic exchanges with other colleges and universities.7) Continue small-sized class model.8) Continue the class-transfer rule.