learning، anxiety، language
such atmospheres are obstacles that stand against the personalisation of the curriculum content. The solution, then, is to try to make the content of the curriculum motivating by relating the subject content to students’ everyday experiences and backgrounds. A useful way to do so, according to Dörnyei (2001b), is to ask students to imagine how a particular theme from the course book could be transferred to locations and situations associated with their own life experiences. Furthermore, he proposes that connecting the topic of learning with things that students already found interesting or hold in esteem is an effective way to raise interest in tasks. He argues that personalizing learning tasks is a technique for making learning stimulating and enjoyable. He adds that the content of many stilted course book tasks can be made stimulating by relating the content of these tasks to the learners own lives.
2.7.3. Maintaining and Protecting Motivation
This category of strategies concerns maintaining students’ motivation and involves making learning stimulating and enjoyable, presenting motivating tasks, protecting learners’ self-esteem and increasing their self-confidence, allowing learners to maintain a positive social image, promoting cooperative learning, and enhancing learners’ autonomy.
22.214.171.124. Making Learning Stimulating and Enjoyable
There is no doubt that the significance of this strategy is well emphasised in many different fields like psychology and education. Raffini (1993) has argued that it seems reasonable to conclude that all students seek fun and enjoyment in school activities. According to his point of view, when students are asked to describe the teachers in whose classes they are motivated to work their hardest, they invariably describe teachers who are excited about their content and find ways to make the learning interesting and enjoyable.
Breaking the routine of the classroom by varying learning tasks and the presentation format, and making learning tasks more attractive by adding new and humorous elements have been found to be important strategies for making learning stimulating and enjoyable. Ames (1992) has encouraged teachers to design tasks for novelty, variety, diversity, and students’ interest claiming that tasks that involve variety and diversity are more likely to facilitate an interest in learning. Dörnyei (2001a) highlights the importance of this approach proposing that it is the best-known motivational dimension of classroom teaching. He adds that “many practitioners would simply equate the adjective ‘motivation’ with ‘interesting,” (p. 129). According to him, among the suggestions that have been made in literature on how to promote intrinsic enjoyment in learning tasks are varying tasks and including challenging and novel elements that are relevant to the learners’ natural interests. Burden (2000) hypothesises that as effective as a strategy may be, students will lose their interest if it is used too often or too routinely. Burden recommends that teachers should vary their techniques over time and ascertain that something about each task is new to students or at least different from what they have previously been doing.
Actively involving students in learning activities is another way to present them with enjoyable learning. Dörnyei (2001b) states that people usually enjoy a task if they play an essential part in it. He clarifies that this is very clear in the discussions that occur in classrooms, which are usually recognised as interesting by those who take part in it and boring by those who do not. Dörnyei proposes that in order to make learning stimulating and enjoyable, teachers are supposed to create learning situations where learners are required to become active participants. Raffini (1993) claims that findings ways to get students actively involved in the learning process is probably a powerful strategy for fostering students’ motivation to learn. He asserts that “when students’ minds or bodies are dynamically engaged in the construction of meaning and in the integration of ideas and skills, they become active participants in learning, rather than mere observers,” (p.245).
126.96.36.199. Diminishing Learners’ Anxiety and Building up Their Self-Confidence
Reducing students’ anxiety and building up their self-confidence is a very important strategy for maintaining and protecting their motivation. Second language researchers and theorists have long been aware that anxiety is often associated with language learning (Horwitz et al., 1986). Dörnyei (1996) has claimed that linguistic self-confidence comprises language anxiety, which is, according to him, a central component in the personal dimension of motivation. Clément and associates (1994) propose that anxiety is the affective component of self-confidence, while self-evaluation of proficiency is the cognitive component. In Gardner’s ATMB test of motivation, language anxiety is measured by the French class anxiety and French use anxiety scales. In Clément’s (1980) model of second language proficiency, second language use anxiety was subsumed by the concept of self-confidence. Clément and Kruidenier (1985) retested this model and reported some relationships between anxiety and both self-confidence and motivation. They found that language anxiety clustered again in defining the concept of self-confidence, which supports the findings proposed in Clément’s (1980) model. They also came up with the same finding as reported in 1980 that self-confidence is a determinant of second language motivation. Maclntyre (1999) mentioned that language anxiety has been recognised in the literature as a key factor that reduces motivation and achievement. Brophy (1998) identifies some sources of anxiety that take place within the learning environment. He proposes that most children come to schools with enthusiasm but when they begin to be accountable for some practices, such as responding to their teachers’ questions, completing their assignments, taking tests, when they feel that their performances are monitored, graded, and reported to their parents, they may find it anxiety-provoking and psychologically threatening.
Oxford and Shearin (1994) argue that teachers can make the L2 classroom a welcoming and positive place where learners’ psychological needs are met and where language anxiety is kept to a minimum. They list some techniques by which teachers can reduce students’ anxiety and foster greater psychological security by noticing signs of anxiety in their behaviours, developing a nonthreatening classroom climate, using emotional checklists for student self-awareness, showing students how to use self-encouragement techniques, avoiding sarcasm and sharp criticism, using praise well, and developing peer support networks. Furthermore, Dörnyei (2001b, p. 92) highlights that it is important that teachers turn language classrooms into an “anxiety-free zone.” In order to achieve such an environment, he suggests that teachers remove anxiety-provoking factors and provide warm and supportive climate in classrooms. He further suggests that teachers should avoid generating social comparisons between students, that they should involve students in cooperative rather than competitive learning activities, and accept students’ mistakes as natural concomitants of learning.
Horwitz and colleagues (1986) argue that as long as foreign language learning takes place in a formal school setting where evaluation is inextricably tied to performance, anxiety is likely to continue to flourish. They propose that in order to deal with anxious students, educators can help those students learn to cope with the existing anxiety provoking situation, or they can make the learning context less stressful.
It is crucial therefore to diminish language anxiety by eliminating the anxiety-promoting elements in the learning environment. In addition to the techniques proposed earlier, this can be achieved through the designing of tasks that are within the boundaries
of students’ ability, and helping students maintain a positive social image while engaged in learning tasks through avoiding them threatening acts such as humiliating criticism or being put in the spotlight unexpectedly (Dörnyei, 2001b).
Self-confidence is an important dimension of self-concept and a major component of L2 motivation. Good and Brophy (1994) point out that it is important to maintain and increase students’ self-confidence and self-esteem in such a context as the language classroom where it is widely acknowledged that many anxiety-inducing and threatening factors for the learner occur. Consistent encouragements to students, like drawing their attention to the fact that the teacher believes in their effort to learn and their capabilities to succeed, is an important strategy in promoting learners’ self-confidence. Another way to build up students’ self-confidence is by involving them in situations in which they can demonstrate their strengths and consequently improve their social images in front of their peers.
188.8.131.52. Promoting Learners’ Autonomy
Some researchers claim that schools are not the best places to exercise autonomy because of the little opportunity education usually offer to learners in terms of experiencing autonomy in the practice of learning (Good & Brophy, 1994; Benson, 2000). Researchers attribute this to the fact that students are often required to come for instruction in a prescribed curriculum and sometimes engaged in pre-selected activities that they have not selected on their own. Despite such a claim, Good and Brophy (1994) believe that there are still some opportunities for teachers to support students’ autonomy by allowing them to select activities according to their own interests. Littlewood (1999) has made an important distinction between two types of learner’s autonomy (proactive vs. reactive). According to him, proactive autonomy is the form of autonomy that