An Investigation of the Relationship of Motivation, Attitudes and Environment: Two Hong Kong ESL Learners’ Experience

An Investigation of the Relationship of Motivation, Attitudes and Environment: Two Hong Kong ESL Learners’ Experience

Helen, Yeh Wai Man (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (CPCE), China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4498-4.ch011
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This chapter will study a Philippine and a Chinese leaner’s approaches to learn and achieve English language proficiency over 15 years in Hong Kong using biographical approaches. It focuses on the experience of individual motivation and social learning environments, and examines the interactions between the learner’s motivation, self-confidence, and competition in the global economy. The effect of the interaction on shaping English learning and the learning experiences in three aspects including formal, self-directed and natural learning environments will also be discussed through Gardner’s model of socio-educational model in second language acquisition and Weiner’s attribution theory in social psychology. The chapter will suggest some practical implications for students and language teachers, discusses the ways to enhance second language learning in a cosmopolitan city, and presents some possible ways to increase learners’ motivation and competitiveness in the global economy.
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Theoretical Framework

In order to understand why learners are motivated, it is essential to understand the learners’ ultimate goal or purpose for learning the language. The two distinct type of motivation for learning a language are integrative and instrumental. Generally speaking, integrative motivation refers to a learner’s desire to learn more about the cultural community of the target language or to assimilate to some degree in the target community. On the contrary, instrumental motivation refers to learners’ desire to learn the language so as to fulfill some practical objectives such as passing an exam or advancing a career. Although Hong Kong students have strong instrumental motives for second language learning, it seems that it is not enough to help them master English proficiency. Therefore, it is essential to examine whether integrative motives can help Hong Kong students gain better English proficiency and performance.

The work of Gardner and his colleagues (Clement et al., 1980; Gardner, 2001; Gardner & Macintyre, 1993; Gardner & Lambert, 1959; Gardner & Smythe, 1975; Gliksman et al., 1982; MacIntyre & Gardner, 1989) have identified a number of factors that affect second language learning and have studied the roles and effects of motivation in second language learning. Gardner’s (1985) socio-educational model of second language acquisition proposes that motivation is supported by two other affective components: 1) integrativeness and 2) attitudes toward the learning situation. The complex of such attitudes and motivation reflects an integrative motive that promotes language learning.

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