Implementing project work in teaching foreign languages as a means of increasing technical students’ motivation
Кудряшова А. В., Горбатова Т. Н., Рыбушкина С. В. Implementing project work in teaching foreign languages as a means of increasing technical students’ motivation // Молодой ученый. 2015. №10. С. 1184-1186.
The present paper deals with the issue of increasing technical students’ motivation to learning English as a foreign language, states the importance of this kind of knowledge and the notion and constituent parts of motivation as well. It also outlines the approaches to teaching English and activities contributing to motivation increase. The authors describe personal experience in implementing project method into the process of English teaching.
Key words: motivation, teaching English to technical students, drill-and-practice approach, instrumental and integrative orientation, project work.
One of the most persistent problems which a lot of teacher of English face nowadays is the attempt to sustain genuine interest to learn English and to use the knowledge gained once the examinations are over. Especially, this problem is acute when it goes about the students of technical universities being non-specialists in English while not every professional acquires this knowledge in the future job and career. Knowledge of English is a rather helpful means of developing one’s career but it is true only in case of organizations having partners in foreign countries or the ones which allocate money for their employees’ further professional training abroad. Of course this can be said only about a small amount of firms while the other ones do not demand such kind of qualification from their workers. It goes without saying that students do not strive for gaining knowledge they will not need in their future life and profession. Thus teachers of English do not always know how to encourage genuine interest among students to learn the language and need to find creative ways to teach the language and increase the student's motivation to learn the language and to eventually appreciate the language. In other words, there is an urgent need to increase students’ motivation, while students who really want to learn will succeed whatever the circumstance in which they study .
Motivation is the process whereby goal-directed activity is instigated and sustained . Thus, to increase students’ motivation teachers have to create a healthy balance between preparing students for the standardized examinations and for life-long language skills rather than apply a drill-and-practice approach aimed at training students how to read and write well in addition to teaching students to master the grammar component of the language, which definitely, has a number of unquestionable advantages. Such approach prepares good test-takers, which is rather preferable in case of passing exams (of such formats as TOEFL, IELTS, FCE, CAE, etc.) for getting necessary qualifications and promote in career but, unfortunately, does not assist in students’ mastering the language and makes them not able to cope with speaking and writing competently .
Gardner and Lambert (1972) introduced the notions of instrumental and integrative motivation. The dichotomy of instrumental orientation proposed that learning a language was for the basis of academic and career advancement (such as employment or travel or exam purposes) while integrative orientation is steered towards social and cultural purposes (to integrate successfully into the target language community) [1,3]. In other words, integrative orientation is revealed in the situation when a person likes to speak English, like English people and wishes to integrate and be identified as one of the member of the targeted language. Therefore, it is understood that integrative motivation lies heavily within the society and the community. On the contrary, instrumental motivation referred to as learning languages for pragmatic gains and practical purposes. Pragmatic gains such as getting a job, climbing up the social hierarchy, fulfilling a requirement in order to graduate and so forth subtracts the idea of integrating with the society unlike integrative motivation .
To sum up, we can say that according to research conducted by Gardner and Lambert we are greatly motivated to learn English due to the fact that we like the people who speak English and their culture. In return, success falls into hand and compliments from teachers and friends further motivates us to become experts in the field, maybe in the future .
Consequently, there are the following components of motivation:
- reason for learning,
- desire to attain the learning goal,
- positive attitude toward the learning situation,
- effortful behaviour .
Thus, we can assume that teachers can drive the students to learn the language and sustain students’ interest in language learning through the activities that are:
- interrelated between in-class and out-of class language activities;
- communicative (game type);
- integrative (short/small activities form larger activities);
- meaningful or relevant;
- challenging .
To prove this idea we have implemented the project work in the educational process. The classroom project can be defined as students’ activity aimed at finding ways to solve the existing problem via defining the procedure, i.e. planning the process of trouble-shooting with further pursuing and analyzing information gained, which, at the end, leads to creating a new product and presenting it .
There exist a number of classroom project types: practice-oriented, research, information gathering, creative, role . Each of the project types mentioned implies verbal and non-verbal communication, which defines the corresponding studies procedure including learning inside and outside the classroom. The major part of project preparation is devoted to out-of-classroom segment (information search, processing, analysis and exchange). This form of studying provides students with freedom in the process of studying, which, in its turn, gives many benefits in terms of enjoyment, personal development, motivation and even increased subject performance.
Traditionally, the project work procedure includes three stages:
- preparation (setting a goal, problem recognition, organizing work teams, assigning responsibilities for project team members);
- main (searching for the information required for the research, ideas synthesis and analysis);
- final (preparing the final report, presenting the results obtained, project defense) .
The project work was aimed at creating a video by the 2nd year students of National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University as the final stage of studying the topic “Sopping” and included 3 stages.
The objectives of the project were formulated as follows:
- revise the material in English within the scope of the subject area “Shopping and Money”;
- create a video guide on shopping in Tomsk.
Video was due to meet the following requirements:
- the video guide should represent the helpful material to be used for English speaking Tomsk visitors and be strictly organized;
- the video guide should use words and phrases from the Wordlist on Shopping and Money.
- length of the video is due to 3–4 minutes.
To create the video students were provided with the following situations to choose from:
- A student from Britain is coming to Tomsk for a few months and need to know where to buy groceries, fruits and vegetables, basic clothing;
- A young couple is coming to Tomsk for three month and need to know where to buy products, rather expensive clothes and spend free time at the same place;
- A senior couple comes to Tomsk for a few weeks and are going to live in Kirov area, they need to know where to buy products and basic clothes.
Project included 3 stages.
Stage 1: preparation. Students were required to:
1) form their project teams (2–4 students in each one);
2) prepare a project description (in the written form), including the following information:
- Project title
- Organization, Institute, Group
- Key staff involved in the project
- Summary of the project
- Project objectives
- List of the project realization steps
- The main results of the project
3) allocate the individual responsibilities in the project group;
4) choose the situation from the list and the form of a video guide the people from the chosen situation can use (an advertisement, a part of TV programs set about shops in different countries\cities, a video guide about a large store, etc.);
5) prepare the plan of the guide (what shops or stores the project team will include in the video and in what order they will appear in the video);
6) consider what information about each department the video will comprise (range of products, prices, ways to pay for the purchases, etc.);
7) consider what information will be included in introduction and conclusion (depending on the form of a video guide and the situation chosen);
8) create the script of the video guide (prepare a detailed script together);
Stage 2: main concept. The project group had to prepare the video guide.
Stage 3: final stage. At this stage students should have submitted:
1. Project description (prepared at stage 3)in the written form\with Power Point;
3. Oral presentation of the project description including the comments on the responsibilities of every team member.
After the projects presentations students took part in questionnaire which showed that the task interested the participants and increased their desire to learn English.
Now we can state that project method meets the requirements of increasing students’ motivation, while this activity is:
- interrelated between in-class and out-of class language activities (students fulfil stage 1 in class and stages 2 and 3 out of class);
- communicative (every stage of the project is actively discussed);
- integrative, i.e. small activities form larger activities (all stages of the project are divided into several steps);
- enthusiastic (students require enthusiasm to fulfil the task successfully);
- group-based (the whole activity is based on team work);
- relevant (the topic “Shopping and Money” is relevant while it can assist in learning the vocabulary useful for going shopping in foreign countries);
- challenging (the activity required a lot of creativity, effort and work).
It also helps promote self-confidence, experiences of success, learning satisfaction, good relationships among learners and between teacher and students.
1. Supyan Hussin, Nooreiny Maarof, and J. V. D'Cruz Sustaining an Interest in Learning English and Increasing the Motivation to Learn English: An Enrichment Program // The Millennium MICELT 2000, 3rd Malaysia International Conference for English Language Teaching, 15–17 May 2000, Melaka
2. Official site URL: http://www.education.com/reference/article/motivation/
3. Gardner, R. C., & Lambert, W. E. (1972). Attitudes and Motivation in Second-Language Learning. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House Publishers.
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