Language learning requires a long-term commitment. In order to experience success, second language learners must be motivated to learn the language and stick with it. Attitudes towards the teacher, classmates, learning activities, and the environment in which the language is learned, also contribute to the motivation of learning a second language. Baker (2011) cites the work of Gardner (1985) and defines motivation as consisting of effort in combination with the desire to achieve the goal of learning and positive attitudes towards learning the language. When considering the complexities of the second language learner’s identity, knowing how to motivate learners is key in ensuring continuing success in the learning process.
Students who have social, family, community or heritage related reasons to study a language are more likely to have intrinsic and therefore deeper motivation to be successful. A strong desire to identify with another language group clearly illustrates integrative motivation and in contrast, instrumental motivation (leading to better educational and job prospects) is more utilitarian in nature (Baker, 2011). Baker (2011) concludes that students with integrative motivation are more likely to be successful than those with instrumental motivation.
While the decision to enter the late French immersion is most likely that of the student, the decision to enter the early French immersion program is generally made by the parents. The motivation behind the choice of program then becomes that of the parents and not the student, at least initially. In consideration of both programs, decisions are made for a variety of instrumental and/or integrative reasons. Immersion teachers need to consider motivation as ever evolving with the learner. Regardless of why the choice was made and what the initial motivation was, our job as teachers is to motivate students to succeed in the program.
Baker (2011, p.130) asks an essential question: ‘How can I motivate learners?’ and offers advice from Dörnyei’s (1998) research:
The advice listed here encompasses the academic and intellectual engagement outlined in the Teacher Effectiveness Framework (TEF). “Today, effective teaching practices centre on the importance of learning opportunities that are thoughtfully and intentionally designed to engage students both academically and intellectually.” (Friesen, 2008, p. 4).
For more information on Teacher Effectiveness Framework (TEF), click here.