1 1612 ELT TEACHER TRAINEES ATTITUDES TOWARDS ENGLISH LANGUAGE AS AN INDICATION OF PROFESSIONAL READINESS Esim Gürsoy, Uludağ University, ELT Department Abstract Current study investigates ELT teacher trainees attitudes at Uludağ University towards English language and the difficulties that they self reported when using foreign language skills in daily and academic language. 200 teacher trainees (48 male and 162 female) at first, second, third, and fourth grades participated in the study. The questionnaire is found reliable (cronbach alpha.876). The results indicate that trainees do not differ significantly in terms of difficulties they are having in using daily language skills; however, there are some statistically significant differences in academic language such as vocabulary and monologue speech. When the results are analyzed according to gender it is found that there are statistically differences among males and females in speaking and reading comprehension in daily language. The differences also appear between genders in academic language such as reading comprehension. The study showed that trainees attitudes at all grades are mildly positive towards English language, with females having more positive attitudes than males. Keywords: Attitudes, ELT teacher trainees, foreign language teaching INTRODUCTION: Learner attitudes towards foreign language learning is a widely researched topic. Attitudes have been explored in terms of its relationship with other factors such as motivation (Gardner, 1968; Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Liu, 2007; Kızıltepe, 2000; Shirbagi, 2010), foreign language achievement (İnal, Evin & Saracaloğlu, 2005), gender (Kobayashi, 2002; Gökçe, 2008), age (Henry & Apelgren, 2008; Dilitemizoğlu, 2003), peer-group influences (Bartram, 2006), culture (Wright, 1999), language teaching (Bağçeci, 2004; Verma, 2008), classroom language learning (Littlewood, 2001), language and its use (Karahan, 2007), and parental influences (Gardner, 1968). The age group of the subjects varied in each research investigating learners starting from primary level (Henry & Apelgren, 2008; Merisuo-Storm, 2007; Dilitemizoğlu, 2003) and secondary level (Karahan, 2007; Bağçeci, 2004; Bartram, 2006; Wright, 1999) to tertiary level (Shirbagi, 2010; LoCastro, 2001; Verma, 2008; Pudjiati, 1996). However, most of the research conducted with university students at the tertiary level constitutes learners enrolled in different departments (see Shirbagi, 2010; Yang & Lau, 2003) and some teacher trainees at non-elt departments (Saracaloglu & Varol, 2007). However, ELT teacher trainees attitudes towards the language that they are expected to teach after graduation is a gap in the literature. It is highly important that an EFL teacher has positive attitudes towards English language in order to implement effective methods and techniques for their students to increase their motivation towards learning the foreign language and enable them to develop positive attitudes. As attitudes are frequently related with motivation (see Gardner & Lambert, 1972), it can be assumed that teacher trainees having positive attitudes towards English have higher motivation towards learning and teaching it. According to their study Gardner and Lambert (1972) believe that motivation is the
2 1613 primary derive for an L2 learner that enhances or hinders intercultural communication. To this end, current study aims at investigating ELT teacher trainees attitudes towards English and the difficulties they self reported when using foreign language skills in daily and academic language. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE: Attitude and motivation have an interconnected role in second/foreign language development. Although there is no direct influence of attitudes towards the learning process they have an important role in the development of motivation. When positive attitudes develop they tend to increase the motivation for learning, whereas, negative attitudes make the learning more difficult by causing a decrease in motivation. Thus, Oxford (2001) suggests that it is essential to identify learner attitudes. The type of motivation is an important factor to enhance achievement. Gardner and Lambert (1972) make this distinction by referring to integrative and instrumental motivation. The integrative motivation is related with the learners willingness to empathize and interact with the native speakers of L2 and their culture (Merisuo-Storm, 2007; Shirbagi, 2010). It is associated with openness to cultural differences and different ways of living by developing a positive and emotional disposition towards the native speakers of the target language (Dörnyei, 2003). Whereas, instrumental motivation refers to a desire to learn L2 for occupational reasons or to pass an exam (Merisuo-Storm, 2007; Shirbagi, 2010). Falk (1978, cited in Shirbagi, 2010) claims that L2 learners become successful when they like the culture and the native speakers of that language and want to become familiar with the target language society. Although integrative motivation has a stronger effect on success (Macnamara, 1973; Gardener and Lambert, 1972) learners generally have instrumental reasons for learning another language (Shirbagi, 2010). Culture has an important impact on motivation as well. In his study Littlewood (2001) investigated attitudes of students from 11 countries, towards classroom English learning. In his study he mentions the importance of culture on thought and behavior. One of the perspectives relies on the society being collectivist or individualist. Eastern countries are considered to be collectivist in nature whereas, western societies are more individualist. In collectivist value systems a person s attitudes and behaviors are determined by the groups that s/he is involved with. On the contrary, individualism is built on self-fulfillment and freedom from in-groups (Littlewood, 2001). Another perspective relies on the distinction between socially oriented and individually oriented achievement motivation. The former is highly relevant with the collectivist and the latter is with individualist orientations. In socially oriented motivation the individual behaves in certain ways since it is considered prestigious for the members of the group, whereas, in the individually oriented achievement motivation the person tries to reach personal goals (Littlewood, 2001). Most of the research literature on attitudes concern language learners, whereas, language teachers and/or trainees attitudes towards the target language that they/will be teaching are not investigated. The current research is an attempt to contribute to the research literature by investigating ELT teacher trainees attitudes towards English. It is believed that teachers attitudes towards L2 would reflect themselves in the classroom by helping the learners to be motivated for learning or by causing lack or limited motivation for them. As discussed earlier attitudes and motivation are interrelated and play a major role in success. It can be expected that language teachers have both strong instrumental and integrative motivation for learning L2. Instrumental motivation could be a result of their desire to have a job related to the use of their FL/SL. Integrative motivation is also necessary since the job they prefer is not any job they can use their L2, but a job that requires the transfer of knowledge related with the native speakers and their culture. It is assumed that if teacher trainees have strong personal and occupational reasons for learning L2 they will have higher attitudes towards English, which will affect their teaching in the future.
3 1614 METHODOLOGY: The current study is a part of a larger scale research conducted at the Foreign Languages Department at Uludağ University, which aims to investigate attitudes of foreign language teacher trainees at English, German, and French Teaching Departments. However, only the results from the ELT Department will be reported here. The study aims to answer following research questions: 1. What are the ELT teacher trainees self-reported difficulties in academic and daily English? 2. What are the attitudes of ELT teacher trainees towards English language? 3. Are there any significant differences between male and female students in terms of their attitudes towards English? Sample: The present study is conducted with 200 ELT teacher trainees who are at their first (n=39, 19,5%), second (n=44, 22%), third (n=65, 32,5%) and fourth (n=52, 26%) year of studies at Uludağ University, Bursa. The majority of the ELT teacher candidates enrolled in the department is female which is reflected in the percentages of genders. Thus, 48 (24%) male and 152 (76%) female trainees contributed to the study. The age of the majority of the participants (92%) range between Data Collection: Data for the study is collected via a questionnaire that is adapted from Karahan (2007). The questionnaire consists of two parts. The first part gathers data on demographic information such as age, gender, and learners self reported difficulties at academic and daily English. The second part is the attitude questionnaire with 25 items. The instrument is a likert-type scaling instrument in five gradations as (1) Strongly Disagree, (2) Disagree, (3) No idea, (4) Agree, (5) Strongly agree. These gradations represent different levels of attitudes (1) strongly negative, (2) mildly negative, (3) neutral, (4) mildly positive, and (5) strongly positive. The attitude questionnaire is composed of 5 groups of items: 1. Social and educational Status of English, 2. Social and Instrumental value of English, 3. The relationship between English and national culture, 4. The value of English language and English-based culture, and 5.Discomfort about Turkish people speaking English. The groupings are made by taking Karahan s (2007) study into consideration. Data Analysis: Cronbach s alpha is used to determine the reliability of the questionnaire and found to be.876. Data analysis is made via SPSS 13.0 and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and t-test are used to identify the differences between groups. For demographic information frequency analysis is made. Tukey and Scheffee tests were used to identify the differences between groups at the end of variance analysis. FINDINGS: As mentioned earlier motivation and attitudes are strongly related with each other, integrative motivation being the most effective one. When trainees reasons for learning English was inquired 60,6% of the participants indicated that they learnt English for personal reasons as an indication of integrative motivation and 82,9% stated that they learnt English for occupational reasons, which could be interpreted as a sign of instrumental motivation. When looking at the results it can be said that the
4 1615 participants have moderately high motivation towards English, instrumental motivation being stronger than integrative motivation. The results related with the difficulty level that trainees encounter while receiving their ELT education according to their self reports revealed that 45,4% of the participants are not having any difficulty, 34,3% having a little difficulty, 11.6% having a lot of difficulty and 1,4% think that their English is not adequate enough to receive an education in the ELT Department. 82,5% of the participants indicated that they are advanced level and 17,5% indicated that they are intermediate level in English. 98,5% of all the participants indicated that they learnt English in Turkey. This is an important information in terms of determining the starting age of learning L2. In Turkey English is a compulsory subject in the curriculum and with the 1997 education reform starting age for learning English is reduced to 4 th grade. 1,5% of the participants stated that they learned English at another country all of which was identified as non-english speaking countries. This group of learners also stated that they started learning English at the primary school. Karahan (2007) claims that starting age for learning languages have an impact on attitudes and in her study with private high school students, she found out that students who started their language learning at the kindergarten show more positive orientation towards English and feel themselves more comfortable and confident when producing the language. When the analysis of the ELT teacher trainees daily language skills are compared on the grade level basis results indicated no statistically significant difference. However, when trainees are compared on academic English skills it is seen that there are statistically significant differences in monologue speech (F=5,414, p>,05) and vocabulary knowledge (F=6,818, p>,05) (see table 1). According to the Scheffe test results, there is a statistically significant difference between second grade trainees ( X =1,6) and third grade trainees ( X =1,4) on behalf of second graders. Similarly in monologue speech there is a statistically significant difference among third and fourth grades ( X =1,7) on behalf of fourth grades. In vocabulary knowledge there is a statistically significant difference between first ( X =1,6) and third grades ( X =1,3) on behalf of first grades and between third and fourth grades on behalf of fourth grades. No other significant differences are found in any other academic language skills. Academic Language Skills N Mean SD Statistics (f) Speaking (dialogue) 3,208 1st year nd year ,50 3rd year , th year ,50151 Speaking (monologue) 5,414* 1st year , nd year , rd year , th year ,43724 Listening 2,227 1st year , nd year , rd year , th year ,45747 Reading 1,538 1st year , nd year , rd year , th year ,19418 Watching audio-visuals 1,379 1st year , nd year , rd year ,36361
5 1616 4th year ,19418 Writing,809 1st year , nd year , rd year , th year ,32260 Grammar 2,520 1st year , nd year , rd year , th year ,13868 Vocabulary 6,818* 1st year , nd year , rd year , th year ,49125 Table 1: Comparison of academic language skills on grade level basis When difficulty in daily language skills are compared between genders (see table 2) there are statistically significant differences among males and females in dialogue speech and reading comprehension. It is found out that female trainees ( X =1,3) are having more difficulty in composing dialogues than male trainees ( X =1,4). Whereas, male trainees ( X =1,8) are having more difficulty in reading comprehension than females ( X =1,9). Daily Language Skills N Mean SD Statistics (t) Speaking (dialogue) 2.167* female male Listening female male Reading * female male Watching audio-visuals.118 female male Writing female male Grammar female male Vocabulary female male Table 2: The comparison of daily language skills in terms of gender The comparison of genders in their perceived difficulty in academic language skills (see table 3) revealed that males ( X =1,8) are having more difficulty in academic reading comprehension (females X =1,9). Similarly, in comprehending audio-visual materials with academic content a statistically significant difference occurred between males ( X =1,7) than females ( X =1,9) on behalf of females. Academic Language Skills N Mean SD Statistics (t) Speaking (dialogue).384
6 1617 female male Speaking (monologue).081 female male Listening female male Reading * female male Watching audio-visuals * female male Writing female male Grammar.184 female male Vocabulary female male Table 3: The Comparison of academic language skills in terms of gender The results of the ANOVA and t-test indicated that gender and trainees self reported difficulty levels have an effect on attitude (see table 4). Accordingly, females show more positive attitudes towards English than males and trainees who indicated that they are not having any difficulty or having a little difficulty have more positive attitudes than those who stated that they are having a lot of difficulty and those feel themselves inadequate. Attitudes towards English N Mean SD Statistics Gender t =.003* female male Year f =.271 1st year nd year rd year th year Total Language Level f = 4.247* Having no difficulty Having a little difficulty Having a lot of difficulty Inadequate Table 4: The comparison of trainees attitudes in terms of gender, grade level, and language level Finally, when we look at the question groups it is found out that trainees showed the highest positive attitudes towards social and instrumental value of English (group 2), which is followed by social and educational status of English (group 1), the relationship between English and national culture (group 3), the value of English and English-based culture (group 4), and discomfort about Turkish people
7 1618 speaking English (group 5). The second group of questions represents a socially oriented achievement motivation with a collectivist orientation. Whereas, third and fourth groups of questions represent an individualist orientation. The result also complies with trainees reasons for learning English by indicating having instrumental motivation (%82,9) more than integrative motivation (%60,6). CONCLUSIONS: The research results support the literature in terms of attitude and success relationship and gender differences. The results indicate that the ELT teacher trainees have mildly positive attitudes towards English and 79,7% of the participants indicated that they have little or no difficulty during their ELT education. The trainees self-reported difficulty level is very much related with their attitudes towards English. The majority of the participants consider themselves successful and again the majority developed positive attitudes towards L2. This result supports the literature that positive attitudes have an important impact on success. Moreover, as it is indicated in many gender and attitude research (see, Henry & Apelgren, (2008); Karahan (2007); İnal et al. (2005)) the female participants found to have more positive attitudes than males. However, one limitation of the study should be kept in mind when interpreting the results. The ELT department at Uludağ University is mostly preferred by females, thus the number of females is always higher. This imbalance between the number of males and females is also reflected in the study, which may affected the results. Another conclusion from the study is related with the tendency to have stronger instrumental motivation than integrative motivation. The mean scores in question groupings and the percentages related with the reasons for studying English revealed that the majority of the participants have an instrumental derive for learning English. In her study Kızıltepe (2000) claimed that although both type of motivations appeared to be important for her Turkish participants, instrumental motivation appeared to be more important than the integrative motivation. As discussed earlier both types of motivation are important for ELT teacher trainees to help their future students develop positive attitudes towards English. Integrative motivation is essential in understanding intercultural communication (Gardner & Lambert, 1972), learning and accepting cultural and life style differences of the target language community. A teacher with higher integrative motivation would be aware of such differences and improve herself and her students in terms of using the L2 with higher pragmatic and linguistic awareness. Instrumental motivation, on the other hand, is a natural outcome for those who have chosen to become an English teacher. Therefore, the increase in instrumental motivation could be explained by this fact. Moreover, the trainees have improved understanding related with the social and instrumental value of English. Indicating that the society that trainees are living in, support learning of English. Turkey, having traditional norms and values have still a more collectivist orientation although there have been societal changes towards individualism in recent years. Trainees tendencies towards socially oriented achievement motivation could be a result of how Turkey views learning English as a FL. Since the educational reform in 1997, English is one of the compulsory courses in the curriculum and the starting age for learning English is reduced to fourth grade, which points to the importance that Turkish Government gives to FL education. Being on the verge of globalization and with Turkey s attempts to join EU increasing number of people is giving importance to FL learning. These changes reveal themselves in learners attitudes and motivation. Therefore, a good language teacher should have positive attitudes and motivation to enable his/her learners to develop theirs for success in L2. Finally, as the trainees that contributed to the present study showed mildly positive attitudes further research is necessary to identify the factors that affect ELT teacher trainees attitudes.
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