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 scholars' attitudes in the direction of glossy international Language studying (MFLL), this e-book illustrates either the significance and nature of learner attitudes and the contribution of comparative schooling to our figuring out of academic issues.Questions thought of include:What is the character of the students' attitudes to the academic dimensions of studying French, German and English in every one country?To what quantity do academic elements impression the scholars' attitudes to studying each one language in each one country?How related are the students' attitudes to MFLL inside of and among the 3 countries?What decisions might be made concerning the relative value of academic and socio-cultural impacts on student attitudes to MFLL in every one state? >

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If the population of a country generally allows itself to develop a mindset which perceives monolingualism as the norm (especially in English), this is less than conducive to learning other languages. Leighton (1991) refers to the ways in which history, geography and modern technology have conspired to create a general perception that language learning in Britain is superfluous. He describes how this perception is ‘buttressed by attitudes rooted in Victorian imperial supremacy, sheltered by our island situation and given a spurious validity by the use of American language in modern technology’ (Leighton 1991: 51).

Baker 1992: 35) McPake et al. (1999) also express certain reservations about an over-reliance on notions of integrativeness and instrumentality, particularly when looking at attitudes to MFLL in UK contexts. Their research focused on MFL learners in upper secondary schools in Scotland, which context arguably shares a number of similarities with the English one. In their view, there is little to support the importance of these two social-psychological constructs in the Scottish MFLL situation, which also finds alarming and increasing numbers of pupils opting out of language learning at sixteen.

The same theme also emerged in Watts’ (2003) study which examined the reasons for the decline in MFL take-up in higher education. Such views, however, beg leading questions about the definition of criteria for good and bad teaching. Furthermore, it would be dangerous to assume that ‘bad teaching’, however defined, necessarily equates with negative learner attitudes. Chambers (1999), for example, notes how German pupils often exhibit positive attitudes towards learning English in spite of language teaching which he describes as often being ‘rather sterile and unimaginative’ (p.

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