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Young learners' perspectives on English learning experiences: Variations in motivations and attitudes in Chilean primary school

by María-Jesús Inostroza (University of Concepción, Chile)

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The long-time assumption on the younger the better has influenced policy changes in primary educational curriculum (Barahona, 2016; Enever, 2019; Garton et al., 2013; Sayer, 2018). In Chile, after eight years of implementation of a suggested Curriculum for early primary education (Barahona, 2016), little is known about the learning conditions (Inostroza A., 2015, 2018b; Toledo-Sandoval, 2020), and less is known about children's learning experiences (Inostroza A., 2018a; Tabalí, 2020).


Motivation refers to a factor that provides the impetus to start, and later continue, learning a foreign language (FL), Its study as part of second language learning has been identified in the literature with well-stablished models (Gardner, 1985; Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2009); however, in the last decade, it has been clearly defined that in early language learning (ELL), motivation is a particular phenomenon (Li et al., 2018; Mihaljević Djigunović & Nikolov, 2019) that needs to respond to an eclectic perspective that combines variables from the traditional models (Fenyvesi, 2020), as well as consider the learning conditions and the adults involved in the children’s language experience.

Attitudes refer to feeling about the FL, the learning situation, its speakers, among other aspects of the FL (Fenyvesi, 2020). In ELL it has been characterized as one of the individual learner differences that changes over time and affects learning behaviour and achievements (Lopriore & Mihaljević, 2011; Mihaljević Djigunović, 2012).

 

This talk presents the findings of a study that examines the motivations and attitudes towards learning English of Chilean young learners from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade of a state-run primary school. The data collected from a questionnaire is analysed through descriptive and inferential statistics, and regression analysis.

 

Based on previous international studies, it is expected that younger learners’ attitudes towards the language are positive and that their motivation is highly influenced by adults around them, and that these are opposite from older learners in the sample. It is also expected that children’s learning conditions are also a factor of influence. Finally, these study findings would support the importance of considering children’s voices in evaluating the implementation of new educational policies.

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References: 

 

Barahona, Malba (2016). “Challenges and accomplishments of ELT at primary level in Chile: Towards the aspiration of becoming a bilingual country”. In: Education Policy Analysis Archieves 24. 1-29.https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.24.2448.

 

Dörnyei, Zoltán / Ushioda, Ema (2009). ”Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self”. In: Dörnyei, Zoltán / Ushioda, Ema (eds.). Second language adquisition series. Multilingual Matters.

 

Enever, Janet (2019). “Looking beyond the local: Equity as a global concern in early language learning”. In: AILA Review  32 (1). 10-35.https://doi.org/10.1075/aila.00019.ene.

 

Fenyvesi, Katalin (2020). “English learning motivation of young learners in Danish primary schools”. In: Language Teaching Research 24 (5). 690-713.https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168818804835.

 

Gardner, Robert C. (1985). Social Phsycology and Second Language Learning: The role of attitude and motivation. Edward Arnold.

 

Garton, Sue / Copland, Fiona / Burns, Anne (2013). “Investigating global practices in teaching English to Young Learners”. In: Sheehan, Susan (ed.). British Council ELT Research Papers Volume 1 (1). 35-68. British Council.http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/sites/ec/files/BritishCouncilWEBpdf_0.pdf.

 

Inostroza Araos, María-Jesús (2015). Examining challenges and complexities in the Chilean young learner classroom: a case of teaching English as a foreign language (Issue December). University of Sheffield.

 

Inostroza Araos, María-Jesús (2018a). “Chilean Young Learners’ perspectives on their EFL Lesson in primary schools. In: Actualidades Investigativas En Educacion, Universidad de Costa Rica 18 (1). 1-20.

 

Inostroza Araos, María-Jesús (2018b). “Using Language Practice Games to Teach English in Chilean Primary Classrooms”. In: Copland, Fiona / Garton, Sue (eds.). TESOL VOICES: INSIDER ACCOUNTS OF CLASSROOM LIFE – YOUNG LEARNER EDUCATION. 85-91. TESOL Press.

 

Li, Yingying / Han, Ye / Gao, Xuesong (2018). “Young learners’ motivation for learning English”. In: Garton, Sue / Copland, Fiona (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners. 60-72. Routledge.https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315623672-5.

 

Lopriore, Lucilla / MihaljevićJelena (2011). “Attitudinal Aspects of Early EFL Learning”. In: Szabó, Gábor / Horváth, József / Nikolov, Marianne (eds.). University of Pécs Roundtable 2009: Empirical Studies in English Applied Linguistics. 3-11. Lingua Franca Csoport.http://mek.oszk.hu/10000/10042/10042.pdf.

 

Mihaljević Djigunović, Jelena (2012). “Attitudes and motivation in early foreign language learning”. In: CEPS Journal 2 (3). 55-74.http://www.cepsj.si/pdfs/cepsj_2_3/cepsj_2_3_pp55_mihaljevic djigunovic.pdf.

 

 

Mihaljević Djigunović, Jelena / Nikolov, Marianne (2019). “Motivation of Young Learners of Foreign Languages”. In: The Palgrave Handbook of Motivation for Language Learning. 515-533. Palgrave Macmillan.

 

Sayer, Peter (2018). “Does English really open doors? Social class and English teaching in public primary schools in Mexico”. In: System 95 102362.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2017.11.006.

 

Tabalí, Pia (2020). Learning English as a foreign language: eliciting young Chilean children’s views (Issue February). University of Warwick. 

 

Toledo-Sandoval, Flor (2020). “Local culture and locally produced ELT textbooks: How do teachers bridge the gap?”. In: System 95 102362.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2020.102362.