English is the most widely spoken language in the world today. Stemming from the British Empire dominance in the early days of civilization, former colonies of Britain either adopted English as their official language or as their second most important language after some indigenous languages.
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Because its used in international instruction, learning English as a second language is a necessary undertaking for students and instructors especially given the dominance of the US and UK in global economics and politics. In Asia, all the learners whose first language is not English study the language as their second language.
ESL (English as a second language), ESOL (English for speakers of other languages), EFL (English as a foreign language) all refer to the learning of English by people whose fist language is not English. They may also refer to the use of the language by the same group.
Teaching of English is also referred to in different terms summarized in popular acronyms. ELT (English language teaching), TESL (Teaching English as a second language), TESOL (Teaching English to speakers of other languages), and TEFL (Teaching English as a foreign language) all referred to teaching English to non-native speakers.
There are many more terms used to describe teaching and learning g English. However, this research concentrated on the TESOL, which primarily involves the teaching of English to speakers of other language.
Learners and instructors of English all over the world including countries that have English as their first language have trouble in the process. According to Brown et al (1983), the difficulties that these learners face are especially compounded in situations where the native language is different from English like in Asia (p. 50).
Through contrastive analysis, for instance it’s easy to conclude that a person of Chinese origin will have difficulties studying English compared to a French man because of the close relationship French has with English. Errors relating to syntax and pronunciation emanating form the influence of first language weigh heavily on learners, which easily discourages the learners.
Demoralization of both parties can easily set in if no steps are taken to address the challenges that face such instruction. This paper therefore largely explored the elements of motivation in the foreign language teaching after tackling the problems that face the process such as anxiety.
The research also reviewed various existing literature on the subject of motivation strategies that have been put in place to ensure learners and instructors successfully deal with the challenges that they face in their course of learning.
Motivation and Foreign Language Learning
Motivation is important in foreign language learning because it helps students the morale to pursue the studies despite the challenges associated with it. In Asia, like many parts of the world where English is studied as a second language, its important for learners to be motivated to ensure they don’t drop out of the ESL classes besides helping them better their performance.
According to Moriam, who carried out extensive research on ESL in Asia, motivation and language learning strategies are the most valued variables that help highlight the differences that exist in individual learners (2008 p.51). According to Moriam (2008) quoting Oxford & Nyikos (1989), self-perception motivation was the most important variable in influencing the strategy that a foreign language learner adopted (p. 52).
Similarly, motivated students of foreign languages in Asia have been found to be engaged in the use of learning strategies of all categories compared to less motivated learners.
Further, Moriam quotes Ehrman & Oxford (1995), who in another study found out that there is strong correlation between the motivation and strategy employment in foreign language learning. This study concluded that motivation had a positive relationship with the strategies used in language learning especially in settings such as TESOL in Asia.
According to MacIntyre & Noels (1996), situational learning attitude, integration, and foreign language anxiety were related with motivation in foreign language learning as well as strategy that is used in the learning approach among Asian learners. According to Schmidt et al (1996), the learning strategies of foreign language learners’ preferences for strategies and motivations are more or less the same.
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Gardner et al (1997), says that there is significant relationship between the use of motivation and strategy in the learning g of foreign languages in Asia but achievement or success in the target language was not explicitly y related to the above.
Influences of the Motivation
Influences of motivation help students engage in activities that help reinforce motivation among learners. They help them keep a positive mind and attitude towards learning ESL. The influences of motivation to English speaking among foreign language learners in Asia, can take many forms.
According to Stein (2004), it’s important to positively reinforce the minds of learners, set clear goals and instructions in the foreign language classes create elements of surprise, encourage friendly competition while at the same time spicing up the student life in foreign language classes (150).
Influences of motivation among Asian learners according to Stein (2004) should be put in place to ensure learners are not overwhelmed in the course of the study.
The influences of motivation will ensure students develop a positive attitude to study the language even in the absence of instructors. Students will as a result be more confident in the employment of the strategies to avoid the anxiety associated with the learning of foreign languages.
Influences of English Speaking Ability
These factors determine the ability of learners to develop their ability to speak English. They largely involve the strategies that these students employ.
English speaking ability according to many scholars is a direct result of the strategies that both learners and instructors employ. The English speaking ability for foreign learners inn Asia can only be natured through assistance accorded by instructors.
Its important to note that the same style that is used in the US, UK and other countries that have English, as their first language is not the same that is used by learners taking ESL learners in Asia. In the Countries mentioned above, learning is more students centered and more often than not students do not lay emphasis on group discussions and communications (Neuman et al. 2006 p. 56).
However, those students taking English as their second language in Asia need to engage more in-group discussion to enhance their skills. Moreover, it will help them because their backgrounds are not English oriented, unlike say American or British learners whose families speak English hence playing a big role in the language development.
Foe Asian learners, language acquisition techniques like vocabulary, listening, and speaking tasks are primarily aimed at improving the speaking ability of the learners. It’s therefore imperative for learners to engage more in activities that help in the development of the above through strategies especially those of socio=affective nature.
One of the strategies that are recommended by experts that will help Asian students improve their speaking ability is the use of first language during instructions. Students through L1 are able to better express thoughts especially when their language skills have not fully matured (Neuman et al. 2006 p. 60).
Speaking ability has been shown to be greatly influenced by the strategies employed by the students. Many researchers have proven that learners more often than not employ meta-cognitive strategies compared to socio-affective strategies.
On the other hand, cognitive strategies are the most used by these learners. It’s therefore important for learners and instructors fuse all the strategies in triangulation so as to achieve the best results in speaking ability.
Anxiety in Foreign Language Learning
Learning of English as a foreign language Is not always smooth. Many learners in Asia like all other ESL learners experience many problems including Foreign Language Anxiety.
According to Young (1992), FLA is quite common among Asian ESL university students and other learners who are taking a foreign language class (p. 67). Young (1992) further adds that sometimes the anxiety is quite severe to the point that learners have difficulty in concentrating, sweat, become forgetful, and exhibit avoidance of the lessons (p 25).
Many instructors according to Young (1991) assume that lack of motivation among students when they exhibit anxiety symptoms in the TESOL classes (p.79). He further adds that a study carried out among Asian language instructors whose fist language is not what they are instructing also reported some anxieties comparable to those that occur in students. It’s important to understand the, meaning of FLA before any analysis is done.
FLA can be described as the feelings of worry, uneasiness, nervousness, or apprehension that native learners experience when using or learning the language. According to Selami et al (n.d), anxiety is the power less state where a person is an emotional state and an individual perceives and prepares for danger (p. 2).
Selami et al (n.d) quoting Gardner (1985) says that language anxiety is a complex state where self-perceptions, beliefs feelings, and behaviors arise from the unique setting that is brought or set by the learning of a foreign language. (p. 2). Selami et al (n.d) further FLA as the apprehension that arises when a situation demands the use of a foreign language, which the individual thinks he/she is not proficient in (p. 3).
The language can be English or any other foreign language that a learner may be involved in. According to experts, any second language context is likely to cause un-easiness when learning one or both productive skills or perceptive skills.
According to psychologists, FLA is a specific anxiety reaction that occurs in the anxiety contexts where some individual may feel more anxious in some situations than others do (Huitt 2007 p. 84). Its human nature for one to be anxious when engaging in activities such as foreign language learning. A detailed look at the causes will help many in understanding FLA.
Experts cannot precisely point to specific causes of foreign language anxiety. However, Selami et al (n.d) cites listening and speaking as the most common causes of FLA (p. 45). Selami et al (n.d) asserts that students in TESOL classes cite numerous causes of FLA. Besides the causes cited in the above section, Von Worde lists speaking activities on top of the list that students feel are the chief cause of anxiety.
Also cited are incomprehension, negative and unfavorable experiences in the classrooms, native speakers, and methodology used in the instruction, and pedagogical practices used in the instruction of foreign languages (p. 109).
The activities under these broad categories of causes account on most times, the anxiety that learners feel. According to Crookall & Oxford (1991), uncertainty relating to communication apprehension, fear of negative evaluation and test anxiety contributes to the uneasiness that breeds FLA (p. 307).
When the learners listen to other individuals or when they participate in speaking activities, they are more likely to suffer from communication apprehension. Selami et al (n.d) adds that more often than not, these individuals have mature ideas and valid points of communication but lack of confidence in their expression skills of the language they study holds them back from expressing themselves (p.4).
The fear from failure of low performance breeds test anxiety while negative evaluation is brought by the fear of judgment from onlookers, classmates, and instructors. According to Selami et al (n.d) this fear stems form the fact that the learners think they cannot make a good impression of themselves before others (p.4).
If in all the above cases, the learners feel that their language ability is scrutinized and negative feedback is likely to be given, their anxiety levels rise. Selami et al concludes that these learners have pre-conceived perceptions about failure and their lack of confidence in their skills level compounds the situation. This apprehension compounds their fear in academic failure that may actually lead o actual failing (p. 4).
Speaking Anxiety in Foreign Language Learning
The anxiety that ESL learners is according to psychologists perfectly normal. Psychologists classify fear of public speaking and oral communication activities that have a psychological dimension. Giving speeches in public according to some scholars is comparable to other human fears such as phobias for snakes and heights.
Learners in foreign languages have a Herculean task when speaking the new language since they are expected to perform impeccably. Young (1992) says that more often than not, it ends up exposing their inadequacies that generate panic and fear (p. 90).
Pedagogical and instructional practices
This relates to the test anxiety that has been discussed above. The most stressing of the tests that many students cite are the listening and oral tests. Many scholars have different views about the pedagogical and instructional practices as explored here.
According to Liu & Jackson, some students complain that classes move quickly hence, they do not have enough time to absorb what is given out during the lessons (2008 p. 36). Liu & Jackson further allude that students have issues with instructional styles where instructors come to class and sometimes call out names of the students in setting order to undertake a task before the class.
Its builds tension and anxiety and many students can hardly concentrate, especially those that feel that their language skills are poor. Another pedagogical concern that scholars have cited to be making a big contribution to FLA is the mode of error correction.
According to Lin (2009), some instructors reprimand students too harshly for making errors. Such unwarranted correction by instructors according to Lin contributes to a student loosing focus and makes them feel stupid. The likely outcome of such a scenario is anxiety anytime the learner attends the class.
FLA is a negative development in any ESL class. This research therefore won’t be complete if the effects of FLA are not tackled.
The effects of foreign language anxiety cannot be overstated. According to Horwitz & Young (1991), many studies have concluded that FLA greatly impedes the production and achievement of foreign language development (p. 4). In fact, a report by Campbell & Oritz concluded that almost half the population of learners of foreign languages suffers from FLA (1991 p. 86).
The report further concluded that the FLA that these learners experience pose potential challenges though hindering the acquisition, retention, and proclivity of the language skills that the learner acquires (p.10). The most vulnerable bit is the academic performance of the student.
Kroll (2003) emphasizes this point by saying that research by various scholars has concluded that FLA is the leading cause of a drop in students’ confidence, self-esteem and level of participation in TESOL classes (p. 173). Anxiety leads to the erection of mental blocks that during TESOL classes. Learners’ confidence wanes and they are likely to employ avoidance strategies to the lessons.
They also lack the confidence to do a self-assessment to identify their weaknesses. According to Kroll (2003) anxious students tend to be forgetful easily forgetting the lesson contents besides showing little or no interest in participating in class (p. 178). The learners rarely ask questions nor do they answer questions and show passiveness in class work activities.
Crookall & Oxford say that the effects of FLA extend outside the classroom. The biggest a casualty of this is the showing of communication apprehension where anxious individuals will be less willing to communicate, tend to be quiet. The lack of communication easily wrecks havoc on their social life where these individuals are easily considered anti social, untrustworthy, physically attractive, tense, and less competent (1991, p.47).
Krashen (1985) as quoted in Olah (2006) alluded that FLA contributes to major inhibition of a learner’s ability to process incoming language skills effectively short-circuiting the process of acquisition. Anxiety impairs the cognitive function the learners interfering with the interaction that is present among anxiety, task difficulty, and ability to understand.
As a result, learners who show anxiety may acquire less skill besides being unable to put to practice to what they have learnt. Because self-confidence, ego and self-esteem is considerably bruised, learners encounter difficulty in achieving proficiency in the second language (Crookall & Oxford (1991 p. 45).
Motivation Strategies for Oral English Proficiency
Numerous strategies are used by ESL learners. These strategies vary according to student preferences as well as the environment where the teaching is conducted. Many scholars have different views about the strategies.
Its therefore important that their views are looked into to gain an insight about the strategies used by learners. These authors have various definitions and meanings attached to the motivation strategies for achieving proficiency in English.
A study carried out by Olah (2006) among Japanese ESL learners concluded social strategies that are used in universities and high schools in the teaching of English played a big part in achieving proficiency in the language (p. 1). Mingyuan (n.d) says that there is great variance in the speed of learning bys students in a language class despite having access to the same teaching staff and learning materials (p. 51).
According to Mingyuan, the individual differences that learners have constitute the basis of the variable that determines language learning outcomes and proficiency (n.d, p. 51). Mingyuan seems to pay emphasis individual learning strategies employed by individuals in their quest for proficiency.
According to Green & McGroarty (1985) as quoted by Mingyuan (n.d), learners who better in their own languages showed better proficiency levels in their foreign language learning. At the same time, these learners showed a greater tendency in to use greater and frequent use of strategy.
According to Mingyuan (n.d), learning strategies that lead to proficiency can be defined as the mental and/or behavioral activities employed by students that or learners of language use and/language on the overall learning process or some specific stage of language use and/ or acquisition (p. 52).
According to McGuinness (2004), definition of language proficiency and the strategies used independent on the classification that language experts have attached to language learning strategies. McGuinness further points out that there are two main ways of classifying language acquisition strategies (p.53.).
McGuinness says that two main classification methods have been in existence and are most commonly used in the classification of strategy. According to McGuinness, one involves Oxford et al (1987) which laid emphasis on five factors general habits of study, functional practice, meaning of speaking and communication independent study and practice and use of mnemonic devices.
McGuinness (2004) reckons that all strategies that are formulated to assist in TESOL learning should be influence by the above factors. They should adhere to most if not all of the elements that are described above.
There are however other strategy classifications presented by other authors. According to Chamot (1990) as quoted by Mingyuan (n.d p. 53). According to him, strategies helping in improving language proficiency and acquisition must fall within the metacognitive, socio-affective, and cognitive categories.
However, it’s important to not that proficiency is achieved through many independence strategies that may sometimes depend on n individual or a group of learners.
It is important to note that proficiency as used here refers to the accurate use of the language in this case English and relative ease in the expression by the learner (Hsu 2004 p. 19).
According to Olah, there was a significant correlation between memory, social and cognitive strategies and high level of proficiency experiences by the students under study (p. 187). One of the most important observations by Olah is that some strategies designed to motivate foreign language learners have proved unsuccessful.
He adds that in fact, the strategies have proved detrimental in the development of proficiency among foreign language learners in other words, not all motivation techniques are efficient in the teaching of English to foreign learners.
On the other hand, Olah (1996) defines second language learning strategies as steps that are employed by both instructors and students with the aim of improving learning of the second language, the use of it or both the above goals (2006 p. 189).
Olah also quotes O’Malley & Chamot (1990) who define strategies used in foreign language learning as the special behaviors and thoughts that learners put to use to help them grasp information about a subject, in this case English. The important point Olah brings out in the two definitions above is the contrast between them.
The former definition laid emphasis on steps and actions while the latter stressed on thoughts and behavioral processes. It is important therefore that any strategies that instructors and learners employ consider the above elements. They are important for their successes and the achievement of proficiency.
According to Jin & Cortazzi (1998), the strategies that may be formulated and used in foreign language learning must fall or conform to the elements of the Oxford Strategy Inventory for Language Learning factors (p.21). The groups that Oxford formulated have a number of items that help in guiding strategy formulators.
According to Chan et al (2002), memory strategies that have under them nine items are the recommended by the Oxford research. The strategies include; elements such as use of imagery, rhyming, use of groups and structured reviewing.
A brief look into them will help understand how they work.
There are cognitive strategies that include reasoning, analyzing summary and general practicing. These strategies reflect deep processing that needs to be employed by the learner for him/ her to comprehend fully the language under study.
There are also compensation strategies that help in bridging the gap in the cases of limited knowledge. Instructors may engage learners in guessing meanings, and using gestures for the conveyance of meanings in cases where expressions are ambiguous.
In the learning of foreign languages, there should be metacognitive strategies. They include encouraging learners to pay attention to lessons, engaging in practice activities and opportunities, self-evaluation, monitoring, and doing more language tasks for self-improvement.
There must also be affective strategies that cater for the emotional needs of the learners. These strategies come in handy in the reduction of anxiety and self-encouragement that learners need ton progress in their language class.
Finally, there are the social strategies that help learners cooperate with native speakers to get a first hand feel of what communicating in the language is. The strategies help learners be culturally aware of their language they are studying and begin to appreciate and participate in the cultural activities associated with the language.
Despite the differences in strategy classification, all scholars agree that there is a big relation between the use of learning strategies and achievement of proficiency in foreign language learning.
Some of the approaches that fall within the above-defined categories and those that have been used in the achievements of proficiency results in TESOL include the use of communicative teaching approach, reduction of the level of task difficulty and building of a supportive learning environment for the learners.
Tackling the strategies in general does not give a comprehensive view on the techniques used in achieving proficiency among ESL learners especially Asian learners. It’s therefore important for the research to focus a detailed look at the individual strategies.
Communicative Language Teaching Approach (CLT)
This is one of the most important techniques in ESL teaching and that is equally important in the use among Asian learners. The technique began in the 1960’s in the UK as replacement for the structural method that was in place. Situational Language Teaching, which preceded CLT, was much criticized by scholars as not being all-encompassing in teaching English especially for foreign learners.
According to Kirsten & Sharon (2008), the functional view of language is the main theory behind CLT. They further add that despite the absence of literature on the theory, there are principles behind its existence and its operation.
According to Kirsten & Sharon (2008), the approach that is CLT involves activities that promote communication and learning (70). In the activities, language is actively used while undertaking tasks that promote learning. Similarly, learners get to use meaningful language that promotes learning (Kirsten & Sharon 2008 p. 73).
According to Swan (1985), the objectives of CLT emphasize the proficiency of the language especially English. The objectives ensure learners active proficiency by using the language they study in TESOL classes as a means of expression.
The students will also use the language as a means of expressing values and judgments in their everyday life activities. CLT also aims helping students achieve proficiency through expression of functions that meet their communication needs.
According to Swan (1985), CLT uses any activity that helps learners engage in authentic communication. Despite the generalization, Swan distinguishes two types of major activities that instructors should help learners engage in. the broad categories include functional communicative activities. These skills learners develop language skills and functions.
However, these activities must involve communication, which is central to the successful application of this strategy. Like other scholars, Swan also recommends social activities including role-plays, conversations, and discussions in the application of CLT (Gardner et al 2004 p. 34).
Communicative Language approach has been touted as one of the most efficient ways to help learners achieve proficiency in foreign language learning (Abbot 2000 p. 54). According to Harmer (2003), CLT as a method of teaching foreign language lays emphasis on the interaction of the participants as the main mode of learning (p. 45).
Harmer (2003) adds that the techniques has a close relationship with and serves as a response to the use of audio-lingual method. It can also serve as the extension of the notional function syllabus, which makes use of tasks in its learning approach in foreign languages.
Bax (2003) says that the technique is useful especially because it uses real life situations that require communication. Mostly, the instructor sets the situation which learners are likely to encounter in their real life experiences.
According to Abbot (2000), CLT can be described as asset of principles that help language instructors in teaching TESOL classes. It helps define the classroom activities that instructors and learners have to engage in to ensure proficiency in the foreign language being studied is achieved (p. 1). Abbot adds that the main goals of CLT are to achieve communication competence among the learners (2000 p. 97).
CLT according to Richards helps learners’ active communicative competence through grammatical competence. According to Abbot (2000), communicative competence that is achieved through CLT includes a number of aspects that help in foreign language proficiency. It helps the use of the language under study for different function and purposes.
It also helps learners know how to use language in different settings for instance in formal and informal settings. CLT will help learners achieve communicative competence though understanding of different texts for instance in sports, narrative and conversations.
Most importantly, according to Abbot (2000), CLT helps learners achieve communicative competence through imparting of skills that help them maintain a conversation even if one has limitations in the languages being studied (2000 p. 3).
It’s important to note that CLT cannot succeed by its mere application. Many other factors should also be taken to consideration when applying CLT (Bax 2007). Many instructors prefer the use of CLT because it offers real life situations hence helping learners internalize the skills and how they are applied.
Reduce the Level of Task Difficulty
Task difficulty has been cited by Asian foreign language students and indeed other ESL learners as one of the leading causes of the course abandonment. Reducing the level of difficulty of the tasks carried out in and out of class is one of the best ways of ensuring ESL learners in Asia and elsewhere in the world stay and complete the course.
According to (Wharton 2000), many TESOL learners become reluctant in speaking the foreign language they are studying in class because of the difficulty of tasks that are issued by instructors (p. 90). Difficult tasks in foreign language classes demotivate students by making them develop a negative attitude towards learning the language.
According to Nation (2007), learners of foreign languages especially in TESOL classes can only perform tasks well id they have enough knowledge about the language they are studying. Many learners who fall in this predicament of tackling difficult tasks with limited knowledge are always unwilling to talk.
Many scholars have suggested many remedial measures aimed at addressing reduction of difficult task to TESOL learners.
Ellis (2005) suggests allocating more time to tasks that students are given during and after class hours (p. 76). Ellis further says that this can be done through allowing students more preparation time. This he says will help them undertake tasks without operating under undue pressures.
Preparation is key to learning in TESOL classes and learners will participation with relative ease when they are allowed enough time to do tasks within the knowledge context that they possess.
Nation (2000) asserts that it’s also important to allocate students tasks that are within their level of experience. Accordingly, Nation says that instructors should consider the background knowledge and experience of the learners before issuing tasks.
He suggests instructors pre-teach orals skill to learners before communicative tasks are allocated. Ellis (2005) adds that its important for instructors to grade the difficulty of the tasks they assign students before actual assignment is done.
Difficulty of tasks is significantly reduced when learners work in collaboration with each other. (Tsiplakides & Keramida, 2010), say that students or learner should be allocated tasks where each of them has a role to play (p. 106).
The role that the learner should reflect his/her strong points. Collaboration will help weak students improve areas. Its also helps reduce tension that is involved in engaging individual students in the TESOL class. Nation (2000) adds that collaboration is best achieved through pairing students or through group work.
One of the most common causes of anxiety cited by learners of foreign languages was lack of guidance or wrong approached by instructors. Similarly, lack of guidance from instructors is one of the factors that complicate tasks fro learners.
Nation (2000) says that guidance by instructors can be done through repeated input from teachers, guiding questions, and multiple-choice questions. Guidance will help students grasp task concepts they are not used to. It contributes greatly to the easiness that learners need to understand the language they are studying (McKay et al. 2008 p. 154).
In the quest to ensure tasks allocated to the learners are easy to understand, instructors are encouraged to attend to learners individually. According to (Oxford, 1999), every student has his/her unique needs and abilities (p. 97). Oxford adds that students can never perform on the same level regardless. He suggests development of different tasks that suit different levels of understanding as exhibited by learners.
Nation (2000) further advises that instructors should always adjust task demands in accordance to learners’ oral competence and individual ability levels. Scholars however advise that helping students overcome difficult tasks should be some sort of last resort help.
Instructors are advised to let students tackle the tasks first on their own before they get any help from teachers. That way they will be able to identify the areas that they think they have problems with for instructors to help in solving.
Build a Supportive Learning Environment
Learning can’t take place without the support of teachers. Teachers have a primary task of ensuring the learning g environment is favorable for students to learn. Different scholars have different views on the need to have a supportive environment for ESL learners and, how it should be done. There views will help in articulating an insight into this strategy.
According to Tsui, foreign language learners need support from teachers and peers to succeed in the TESOL classes. The support forms part of the conducive environment that learners need (1996 p. 34). With the right environmental support, learners of foreign languages are more willing to speak in the language they are studying. A supportive environment can be achieved through numerous techniques.
One of the most successful techniques that ensure a conducive environment for foreign language learners is the presence of peer support in the classrooms (p. 40). Tsui says that instructors should consider allowing learners to countercheck their answers to their classmates before presentation.
That ways, Tsui says the students will be encouraged to speak up on the difficulties they encounter. According to Wharton (2000), the students can also be encouraged to hold discussions with their peers before any presentations made to the class (p. 209). That way, the students get to put to practice the communicative skills they have learnt besides gaining confidence about their spoken language.
According to Naughton (2006), it’s important that instructors be sensitive when grouping students to study groups (p. 169). A group environment helps students open up and learn better the target language. However, when grouped with group members they are not familiar with, students are not likely to open up.
McCroskey & Richmond says that many students will feel comfortable when assigned into groups with their close friends (1991 p. 84). Because the main aim is to ensure conversations in the target language, it is therefore important for instructors to group them with people they are comfortable with. They further add that the instructor can go a step further and allow students choose whom they would like to be groups with.
Another strategy that can make learning environments be conducive is through allowing students to use their first language in class, but only where necessary (Zhang & Goh 2006, p. 48). Nation (1997) says that students sometimes have difficulty in conveying messages in the target language especially when their skills are in the language are low (p. 205).
Nation adds that instructors should be positive and flexible in the use of the first language since its crucial in helping foreign language learners express their thought. He further says that the instructor’s attitude is important because it determines behavior of the students in the foreign language class. Students can easily feel humiliated through the instructor’s attitude towards their first language.
Many students find the classroom environment where they study foreign language to be threatening. According to Oxford (1999), it’s important that instructors ensure that the classroom environment where language study takes place is non threatening (p.101). The atmosphere and attitudes of both learners and instructors should be favorable to so as not to scare students from making communicative mistakes.
Young (1991) lists such mistakes as correction of students mistakes on the spot, random calling of students and calling on students when he /she appears to be not concentrating, he says that such actions only act to bring anxiety among the learners and minimal learning can only take place.
Promote Positive Attitudes among Students
Attitude determines to a great extent success in any learning activity. Promotion of a positive attitude among the students will help in improving their view ESL learning process.
According to (Tsiplakides & Keramida, 2010), students that have positive attitudes towards learning in the TESOL classes are less likely to have FLA and are more likely to participate actively in class work (65). The question therefore is how instructors and course directors create positive leaning environment where every learner will feel free to learn.
Young suggests a teacher learner centered discussion where both parties will discuss the importance of language use (1991 p. 83). Through discussions such as the above, learners will begin to appreciate the use of the language even if its not neither fluent nor accurate. Furthermore, the instructors and students can engage each other in oral activities, which will be guided by specific goals (2007 p. 39).
The oral activities that students and instructors will engage in will be rewarded accordingly to encourage students who in turn will change their perceptions about the use of the language. They will also learn to accept their mistakes.
According to Oxford (1999), instructors should always seek to boost students’ self-confidence. Course instructors and directors should come up with opportunities that will create classroom success (p. 47).
The sense of success and achievement that will be brought by self-perceived competence in communication will help boost their confidence. This can be done through the allocation of simple tasks that students can easily tackle. The sense of achievement that the students will feel will greatly help in boosting their confidence.
Lowering anxiety in the classroom is touted as one of the biggest steps instructors can employ in their quest to lay the development of language skill in foreign language learners.
Young (1991) says that it will help a lot if teachers of these students can dedicate some of their time in finding out what the sources of anxiety for the students are. The information they will gather will help in formulating strategies on how to overcome these anxieties.
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