Language is a source of communication. It is a mean through which thoughts, feelings, and ideas between individuals are exchanged. There are number of languages which are being spoken all around the world, but among them all, there exists a language which is considered dominant all around the world. The language, which is being referred, is English language which is now supposed to be a global language, as it is understood everywhere. In some countries it has the status of mother tongue and in other countries it is being learnt as a second language in the schools.
McArthur (as cited in Sehajpreet 2011) states “In the closing years of twentieth century the English language has become a global resource. As such it does not owe its existence or the protection of its essence to any nation or group.”
According to Naveed (2012), there are many reasons which are responsible for the rapid spread of English. For example:
It is a source of communication between the people with different cultures. They can use it as a unanimous resource to communicate with each other.
English is considered as the language of science and technology. The people who want to gain knowledge of these fields, it is considered that they should know English language.
It is believed that English is the native language of internet, as people who know English can deal well with internet.
English is considered to be the language of modern age. It is being used in various fields as economy, e-commerce, medicine etc.
English is a compulsory demand for most government and private jobs.
Ghani (2003) has claimed that in Pakistan, English is considered a symbol of high status. Watching English movies, listening English songs is a trend now a days. In formal gathering, people prefer to speak in English, because the people who do not speak English they are considered old fashioned.
Rahman (1996) states that parents force their children to use English in school as well as at home and this is the case, not only with the elite class but also the middle class families want their children to speak in English. Children of educated class are usually provided with an opportunity to communicate in English in their schools as well as with their parents. However, the children of illiterate class remain deprived of this opportunity. He has further discussed the power and prestige attached with English language, and its dominance on local languages in Pakistan. In conclusion of this article, it has been claimed that even the Islamic revivalists and under privileged Pakistani groups acknowledge the fact that English is a “language of empowerment in the modern world.”
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In present scenario, the situation is that there are a number of jobs available for those who have proficiency in English. In other words, the criterion to get a job is the proficiency in English Language. There are institutions available to teach English to those who want to learn. To get prestigious jobs people prefer to take admissions in these institutions to be proficient in English. Shamim has mentioned that (NEP, 2009) recommends that the teaching of English as a subject will be adopted from Grade I and it will be the medium of instruction for Science and Mathematics from Grade IV onwards. However, now English is compulsory in all schools of Pakistan and admitting the fact of its importance its popularity is increasing day by day.
For the promotion of English language, such an environment should be created where students should be motivated to learn English as a second language. As motivation has a vital role in the formation of attitude and attitude has an effect upon student’s achievements. If an attitude is favorable towards language, the students will be willing to learn which will lead to interest and interest will motivate the students to strive hard for the success.
According to Brown (2000), negative attitude results in disinterest and as a result a child becomes inattentive. If a child is not interested in a language, it is difficult for him to make any noticeable progress. He cannot be able to interpret properly and as a result will not be willing to learn that language.There is a strong relationship between positive attitude and successful language learning as such students will have self confidence and willingness to communicate in the target language. On the other hand, negative attitude results in decreased motivation and as a result such students feel reluctant to communicate with others.
Statement of the Problem
This research is designed to investigate the attitude of students towards learning English at Secondary level.
Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are following
To know the attitude of students towards learning English at Secondary level.
To find the difference between the attitude of male and female students towards learning English at Secondary level.
1. What is the attitude of students towards learning English at Secondary level?
2. What is the difference between the attitude of male and female students towards learning English at Secondary level?
Significance of the Study
This study will be helpful in knowing the attitude of students towards learning English at Secondary level, their willingness and readiness about learning English. This study will also take into account the reasons of students’ high and low achievements in English. It will also prove itself a tool in knowing that either students use effective tools for example, extensive sources like, reading books, newspaper , watching program’s in English etc in order to improve their proficiency in English or not.
English, in Pakistan is considered as a key to success in almost all fields of life. This study will consider students’ feelings regarding the progress, promotions associated with adoption of English. Moreover, this study may indicate the thoughts, liking , disliking and beliefs of students towards learning English.
This study will take into account students’ expressions, motivation provided by the teacher, classroom and school environment and also the personal efforts made by students individually. It will pinpoint the factors which may highlight the reasons in the formation of positive and negative attitude towards learning and using English inside and outside the classroom, with the help of the items of the questionnaire. This study can be an aid for the teachers, too. It will help them to know the feelings, liking and disliking of students. When teachers will be aware of these factors, it may help them to adopt such strategies which will help the students to overcome their problems.
It will help the teachers to deal well with the students, make changes in their persistent behavior to improve the performance of the students regarding learning and understanding of English. This study will prove itself a source which will play a vital role in improving the interaction among teacher and students and may help in improving teaching learning situations by taking into account the attitude of students.
Delimitation of the Study
Due to the limited resources, only the 10th class (male and female) students were included in this study from 8 schools of Lahore city.
In this research attitude of the students was indicated by items of the questionnaire containing the following components,
Dictionary definition of “Attitude”
“Attitude is the way that you think and feel about somebody or something; the way that you behave towards somebody or something that shows how you think and feel”(Turnbull, 2012, p.3).
Attitude has a strong impact on the way in which an individual behaves towards an object, institution, or a person. Parents, school, teacher and society have a definite influence in forming the attitude towards a particular object. Thurston (1929) has defined attitude as the sum total of man’s inclination, feelings, threats and conviction about any specific topic. Karlinger (1973) believes that attitude is an integral part of personality to think, to feel, and perceive to behave towards a particular referent and cognitive object.
Attitude is very important because it decides the behavior pattern of a person. Attitudes can be implicit and explicit. Implicit attitudes can be unconscious, about which we are not knowingly aware of, but in spite of this, they have an effect on our beliefs and behaviors. Explicit attitudes are those about which we are consciously aware of and they clearly influence the way in which we behave and believe about any object. Bain (1927) believes that an attitude is the overt behavior of a person which affects his status.
According to Jung (1921), attitude is readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way. In other words, it can be said that attitude affects the way in which a person thinks or believes about any specific topic or object. And this way of thinking and behavior pattern is affected by different internal and external factors.
Components of Attitude
Harrison (1976) has defined three components of attitude as under:
Beliefs are what an individual considers as desirable and undesirable.
Attitudes are related to our emotions and both of them influence each other.
The attitude of an individual is depicted through his actions which can be described as the overt behavior of a person displayed through his actions.
However, Wenden (1991) has proposed a broader definition of attitude. He has introduced these terms with a little change, although the theme is almost the same. He says that the term attitude includes three components as
Cognitive component is composed of the beliefs and ideas or opinions about the attitude object. Rosenberg and Hovland (1969) have defined that cognitions include perceptions, concepts, and beliefs about the object of the attitude these are often expressed by verbal questions. Ajzen (1988) classified cognitive components into verbal and non-verbal responses. Cognitive responses of a verbal nature are expressions of beliefs about an attitude object. He describes that cognitive responses of a nonverbal kind cannot be easily assessed. The information about attitude, which is provided by such non verbal responses, is usually indirect. Baker (1992) holds the belief that the cognitive component is related to thoughts and beliefs.
Affective component is related to the feelings and emotions which one has towards an object, his liking or disliking, his interest and disinterest. Ajzen (1988) believes that affective responses are related to the feelings towards the attitude object. Expressions of admiration or disgust, appreciation or disdain can be described as verbal affective responses. On the other hand, nonverbal affective responses are assumed to be expressed through facial expressions and other bodily reactions. Baker (1992) suggests that the affective component is related to the feelings towards the target language, which can be love or hate for the language, a passion for the poetry of the target language, or an anxiety about learning it. In other words the affective component involves our associations related to the target language, and the bias and hatred in relation to the target language.
The behavioral component is related to one’s consisting actions or behavioral intentions related to the object. Rosenberg and Hovland (1969) have defined the behavioral component in relation to a person’s overt actions or verbal statements concerning behavior. This is the only component of attitude which is clear and visible because the cognitive and affective components can only be inferred.
Kinds of Attitude
There are three kinds of attitude:
Positive Attitude is a kind of attitude that describes the way in which the people act consistently with. It depicts the way in which the people have a favorable thinking in relation to an object. Negative Attitude is a kind of attitude which depicts the way in which the people act inconsistently with. In other words a negative attitude describes the negative or unfavorable thinking or beliefs related to an abject.
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Neutral Attitude refers to a situation where people feel themselves reluctant to take any definite decision and find it difficult to make a choice either to go with something or not. In relation to positive attitude, people have a favorable thinking associated with the attitude object and understand and support every situation which is related to it. But with a negative attitude, a person will develop a feeling of hatred and will display an unfavorable behavior. A neutral attitude displays the situation when people are supposed to be indecisive, either they are confused or reluctant to give their opinion. In other words, a neutral attitude describes the thinking of the people when they do not support any of the two opposing sides.
Attitudes can be formed from our experiences. The processes through which attitudes are formed remain the same throughout our life. Although, with the passage of time, as we grow older, the attitudes which have been learnt may become more complex and complicated. The attitudes which we already have may become more resistant and perhaps unable to change.
Attitudes are formed with the social environment, in which as an individual we live. The home environment, friends, school, society and religion all these have a vital role in attitude formation. It is said that the earliest agents through whom our attitudes are formed is our parents. Later on, our world experience, interaction and the influence of society also affect our attitudes. There are some psychological factors, too which play a significant role in the formation of attitude. These factors are discussed below:
It is related to the voluntary responses. It involves the behavioral component of attitude. If the behaviors are reinforced, there is a tendency that these reinforced behaviors will be repeated. In the same way, behaviors are supposed to be stopped when they are punished.
Direct instruction involves the adoption of attitudes which is directly told by the parents, schools, community, and friends. As well as the impact of religion is also involved in direct instruction.
It is related to the modeling and observation. If the others are rewarded and receive appreciation and applause for their certain behavior, we are reinforced. To get the same or more appreciation we too, try to repeat or imitate that distinct behavior.
It is based on the careful analysis of evidence for, and against, a particular attitude. In other words, it involves the careful and keen observation of the evidence so that, the right decision can be taken. (See Appendix)
Language attitudes can be defined as the feelings which the people have in relation to their own language or about the languages of others (Crystal, 1992). Language attitude has a distinct value as compared to other attitudes in the sense that they are specifically related to language. It is normally assumed and thought that language attitudes are specifically related to the language itself, about the components of language as its variety, its sound system and phonetics and phonology, its structure, its semantic quality so on and so forth. But in fact, the term language attitude is applied and adopted by sociolinguists today is related to the outlook and our association and affiliations towards the speakers of a specific and particular language.
Fasold (1984) has described that attitudes towards a language can be reflected by the attitudes towards the members of various ethnic groups. In other words, our affiliations and our associations about a particular language and its speakers depict our attitudes towards that language. Language attitudes may change because of the change in the economic situation of a country, either it is for the better or the worse, and as a result this changed economic situation may produce a different language attitude among its speakers or potential speakers.
The same change in language attitude plays its role in the choice of a foreign language where the language status is determined by the needs. If a foreign language attains a position through which it fulfills the economic as well as the educational needs of the people, the people will adopt it and will have a positive language attitude. On the other hand, if the people have a negative perception and feeling of hatred for the foreign language. Such people will possess a negative language attitude.
Attitude and Motivation in L2 Learning
Garner (1985) that there is a close connection between the term attitude and motivation. These two terms are closely related to each other. He believes that languages are related and concerned about the acquisition of skills or behavior patterns which are the distinct characteristic of another cultural community. So, learning a language involves the acquisition of the specific features of the target language community. He believes that to a certain extent, the degree of success in second language acquisition depends on the individual’s attitude towards the target language community .He describes that the second language acquisition is a long and tough task. He proposes that attitudes play a vital role in language learning as they have an influence on motivation.(Deci, Flaste 1995) discuss that educators accept this fact that students have individual learning styles. In the same way they vary in their attitudes towards learning in general .
Gardner and Lambert (1972) have introduced two major clusters of motivation. Integrative motivation is defined as when the desire to learn a language is to become part of a speech community. The example of the people who want to be identified with the community around them is the people who immigrate to new countries to integrate them with the new culture. For them, the purpose of language learning is using language for social interaction. This type of motivation is supposed to produce success in second language learning.
On the other hand, learners may be learning a second language for functional purposes as to pass the exam to get a good job, or to get admission in an educational institution. This type of motivation in relation to second language is known as Instrumental motivation. In some situations, it has been observed that the instrumental motivation works as a force in determining success in second language learning.
. Starks and Paltridge (1996) have mentioned that learning a language is closely associated to the attitudes towards the language. Karahan (2007) has mentioned the role of positive attitude in language learning. He states that positive language attitude allows learner to have positive and favorable orientation towards learning English. Favorable attitudes play a very important role in language learning. They appear to affect the success of student’s success directly.
Ellis (2000) has mentioned that positive attitudes towards the target language and its speakers enhance the learning and leads the learners towards success in second language. On the other hand, negative attitudes impede students’ learning and lead them towards failure or low level of achievement. So, attitudes have an impact on the level of proficiency of individual learners. When the learners have positive attitude, they experience success. As a result, their attitudes are reinforced and they are more motivated to learn. In the same way, the learners with negative attitude experience failure. As a result, their attitudes are strengthened by their low level of achievement.
Holmes (1992) states that the attitude which the people develop towards languages reflect their opinion and views related to the speakers of the languages, their functions and context, to which they are associated.Brennecke (2000) has mentioned the relationship between language and attitude. He describes that language is not only a combination of forms, patterns and rules but is simultaneously associated with the social, subjective and objective world. Similarly, it holds the attitudes, habits and cultural characteristics of its speakers.
The Status of English in Pakistan
In Pakistani community different languages co-exist. Language attitudes play a significant role in the lives of the speakers of these languages. In spite the existence of these local languages, English language enjoys an admirable and undeniable status in Pakistan. It is the language of education, law, science, technology, Government. It has become a status symbol, as the people who speak in English are considered to be well educated.
In Pakistan, English is used as an official as well as a second language. However, it is a fact that it is not spoken by the majority of the population. A small but influentiol portion of the population speaks this language. It is used in government administration, law, the military, the higher education, commerce and mass media.(Baumgardner 1993).
Ghani (2003) has discussed the status of English in Pakistan. It serves as a gateway to success, to further education and to get a good job. It is recognized as the language of higher education.It is not the home language of the population. In the upper and educated class of society, it is spoken and is considered a status symbol. It continues to play significant role in the commercial and economical development of the country.
Attitude of Pakistani Students towards Learning English
The cause of the failure of language policies in Pakistan is that the students’ attitudes to English language learning are mainly neglected. Therefore, it is important to study the attitudes of students, because if the learners have negative or unfavorable attitudes towards a target language, the implementation of language policy is unlikely to be successful (Baker,1992).
Siddiqui(2007) discusses the present scenario in Pakistan. He states that every student has to study English as a compulsory subject up to Intermediate level. He further discusses that there are a large number of students who raise question about the existence of English as a compulsory subject.
In many cases, the parents are not educated and cannot understand the purpose of learning English.Students usually feel that English is the ‘privilege of the elitist class and only the bright students are able to acquire it. There is a small number of students who comprehend the importance of English as it is a passport to get a good job. Most of the students prefer to learn English to get degrees. However, they do not bother to attempt to learn the language skills. They prefer to rote memorize the content, because they consider it the best way to pass the examination. Rahman (1999), in his survey has found that almost all the students, including the ‘deeni madrassahs’ are willing to learn English. However, it seems that the reason for learning English is instrumental for them.
Factors Affecting Attitude towards Learning English
There are certain factors which can be attributed as to affect the attitude of students towards learning English.
Role of parents.
Siddique (2007) has mentioned that parents should provide their children with a conductive atmosphere, which should be based of equality and care. Such atmosphere of love and care provided by the parents helps the child in acquiring confidence. Parents play an important role in the education of their children. Their involvement and encouragement can help a child excel. Parents are the major socialization agents who play a vital role in shaping children’s attitudes towards language learning. Parents can also be actively involved in the learning process and promote success by encouraging children to study the foreign language, monitor their performance and correct mistakes etc.
On the other hand, if the parents are not literate in the second language, their children remain deprived in terms of the availability of interaction in a second language at home. Keeping in view the importance of parent’s involvement in children progress in second language learning Alberta Education encourages parents to take an active role in the education of their children and provides resources to support their involvement.
Role of personality traits in L2 learning.
Personality is considered a very important category of individual differences since the individual is often judged depending on her/his personality. It is observed that different learners obtain different proficiency in L2. Some learner obtains highly proficiency while some obtain low proficiency in second language learning. Though the circumstances are almost identical for all types of the learners, yet some of them show progress in learning the target language. The variation of inter individual can be accounted by learner internal factors.
Extroversion and introversion are personality characteristics that can influence language learning in a positive or negative way. It is believed that extroverts, who are sociable and open to other people, are more successful in learning languages than introverts, because they have more contact with L2. On the other hand, well-organized and serious introverts are seen as better learners as far as the systematic study is concerned.
Anxiety is one of the important factor that affects the attitude of the learners
towards language learning. According toKrashen (1985) low level of anxiety is better equipped for success in second language acquisition. While high level of anxiety can affect the filter and form “mental block”. And this mental block prevents the input from being used for acquisition. It is observed that anxious learners are reluctant to take any risk, while good learners are willing to take risk. As a result good learners show positive attitude towards language learning.
Age is considered a major factor that affects the attitude of learners towards language learning. Children are considered capable of acquiring a new language rapidly and with little effort, as compared to adults. Older learners are indeed less likely than young children to master an L2.An examination of studies relating age to language acquisition reveals that age differences reflect differences in the situation of learning rather than in capacity to learn(TODD, Marshall 2000).
Degree of instrumentality vs. integration.
It is supposed that the degree of instrumentality is also a an important factor which effect the process of L2 learning. When the learners are motivated to learn a second language for utilitarian purpose i.e., to get a good job the level of success is supposed to be higher as compared to those who learn a second language for integrative purpose.
According to Gardner and Lambart (1972) when a language is learnt for utilitarian purpose , the success in second language is supposed to be lower than if it is learnt for the integrative purpose but MeenakshiVerma states that this claim seems to be doubtful as the instrumentally motivated students are effectively learning English. The reason seems to be that the instrumental motivation works as a force to get a good job.
Role of teacher in L2 learning.
The role of teacher in affecting the attitudes of students cannot be falsified. A teacher plays a vital role for the students. He can serve as a facilitator, a guide, a fellow traveler, an advisor etc. If a teacher does not provide sufficient exposure to the target language, does not motivate the students, or does not provide them an opportunity to communicate, such teacher proves himself a threat for students. In such circumstances, if the student is asked to interact, the threat of teacher may hinder students’ progress.
According to Dornyei (2001) teacher should be seen as a central in motivating learners. Students need opportunity, encouragement and support for learning,it is the responsibility of the teacher to organize and manage the classroom in such a way where learning can take place. Furthermore, it is also on the part of the teacher to create a relaxed and supportive atmosphere for learning because anxious students are unlikely to develop motivation to learn. (Good &Brophy, 1994).
In short, attitude is “the sum total of a man’s instinctions and feelings, prejudice or bias, preconceived notions, fears threats and convictions about any specified topic” (Gardner, 1980). It can be described in other words as a mirror through which the inner emotions, feelings, beliefs, liking, disliking can be depicted.
As these are the inner as well as the overt behaviors of individuals, they have a strong impact on decision making and finding the way for further progress. In the same perspective, an attitude towards learning a language depicts the way in which the learner feels about second language. It highlights the beliefs, in relation to the language which is being learnt.
An attitude can be influenced by parents, teachers as well as by the society including the religion. Our affiliations, our interest as well as our purpose behind learning L2, all play a vital role in forming attitude towards learning a language. Having a review of the related literature, it may be concluded that these factors have a strong influence on the beliefs, liking and disliking of students and have an impact on their overall achievement in the second language learning.
Role of gender.
Gender is a major factor in affecting the attitude towards learning English. It is believed that the female students attitude toward learning English is positive than male students. According to Linn and Hyde (1989), girls show higher self- perception in English than boys. Gardner and Lambert (1972) state that girls have greater motivation and more positive attitude towards English than boys, although the distinction between instrumental and integrative motivation is ambiguous. This fact has also been stated by Dornyei and Clement (2001), as they state that girls score significantly higher than boys, on the basis of mentioned motivational dimensions e.g. direct contact with L2 speakers, instrumentality and integrativaness.
Rationale of the Study
This study aims to examine the student’s attitude towards learning English. It focuses on the relationship between students’ attitude and their achievements in English language. In the light of this study, it is possible to put forward those factors like students attitude towards teachers, curriculum, and teachers’ methodologies that can be the causes of students’ low achievements in exams or their disinterest in the language learning.
This study will show students positive or negative attitude towards learning English and their proficiency in it. It will take into account students’ experience and motivation provided by the teachers. As the aim of this study is to investigate the student’s attitude towards learning English language, it will show that either students’ want to learn English for integrative or for instrumental purpose. The present study was designed to investigate the attitud
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