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Ten Commandments for Motivating Language Learners: Results of an Empirical Study

Zoltán Dörnyei Thames Valley University and

Kata Csizér Eötvös University, Budapest

Language Teaching Research 2,3 (1998);pp.203–229

Reviewed by: Sri Hastuti N.A.S (Mataram University)

  1. Summary

Motivation is one of main factors influencing the learning process of language acquisition. The term of motivation can be one of determinants for learners that they will fail or success in learning language itself. According to Spratt, et al. (2002:245) they conclude motivation is an important factor to influence the desire of learners in language learning. As Good and Brophy reiterate, ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink’. Hence, we can say that even the learner has good knowledge or cognitive in learning, but it cannot stand by its self. It cannot guarantee that the learner will be success in language acquisition. However, the important thing that supports the cognitive or the knowledge is by having high motivation. By having greater motivation, the learner will be able to learn effectively. Motivation can create the desire of people in doing activities. In relation to second/foreign language learning, according to Gardner (2001) the motivation can reach the achievement or the goal of the people and the individual will persistent and tentative. As the result, why motivation is important in language acquisition, because it is able to make the learner have attempt in reaching the goal and having spirit and desire to comprehend the language itself.

Motivation is not only coming from the learner itself, but it is able to come from the teacher, the others student, environment, and family. All of the aspects can influence the motivation of the learner. Motivating language learners should be done by everyone not only from the family, but the society of the learners can motivate them. In the 1980s, Ryan and Deci introduced two classifications for motivation; they are intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The intrinsic motivation is the motivation from the learner itself. The desire to engage activities based on their feeling, and self determination. Otherwise the external is desire to engage activities beyond on themselves. According to Dörnyei, et, al. (1998) ten commandment motivating language learner. They think that all commandments should be done by the teacher and the teacher, those are 1). Set a personal example with your own behavior, 2). Create a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere in the classroom, 3) present the task properly, 4) develop a good relationship with the learners, 5). Increase the learners’ linguistic self-confidence, 6). Make the language classes interesting, 7) promote learner autonomy, 8) personalize the learning process, 9). Increase the learners’ goal-orientedness, 10). Familiarize learners with the target language culture. Those are the strategies that the Dörnyei, et, al. believe are able to motivate language learners.

  1. Review

In language teaching, how to make students are more interested in the class and enjoy with learning process must be thought by the teacher. One way of teacher is by developing the motivation language learner. Motivating language learners need the strategies that can directly create good motivation for the learner itself. Looking at the Ten Commandments, we can see the first that set a personal example with your own behavior. According to Dörnyei, et, al. (1998) the personal example here means that the most prominent model in the classroom is the teacher. On the other hand, Ushioda (2009) has proposed a ‘person-in-context relational view of motivation’ that emphasizes the importance of real individual dealing with everyday realities of life. While Dörnyei, focuses on the teacher itself as the model of classroom obeyed by the learner; however, Ushohida regards not only from the teacher, but also from others aspects (like their friend, parent, brother, player, and many other facets). On one side, that is right if we say that the teacher is a personal model for their learner; because, almost a half of the learner time is together with the teacher. So that when the teacher is in teaching and learning process, the teacher should always motivate the language learner, hence they feel better and enjoy in the class. As the result, setting a personal example cannot only be found in the class, but the environment influence the motivation of learner also.

The second of commandments that creates a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere in the classroom. According to Ryan (2008) the process of learning should be enjoyable and students should feel comfortable about different aspects of learning English. Create a good condition in the class is also can make the motivation of the learners are increase such as making role, giving game, singing together, those are the way the teacher to make the relaxed atmosphere in the classroom. Neither lecturers nor the student- teachers seemed to be aware that listening to the music and singing western songs could be an easy yet useful strategy in learning English as it helps student to memorizing language or adding to English vocabulary of student-teachers (Yu, Liu & Littlewood, 1996). By doing these activities, student-teachers could learn and have fun at the same time.

Then, the third is present the task properly, the teacher should choose the task which is appropriate for the learner and must be different from the previous. In line with Gardner (2001) that he argue that the teacher should make the learner enjoyable of the task. The fourth and fifth are develop a good relationship with the learner and increase the learners’ linguistic self-confidence. Both of them are good strategies, because that is the obligation of the teacher to do those. Kabilan indicated that “Teachers should develop a mutual relationship with their learners” (2000). Developing the mutual relationship with the learner is a good idea, because we think that the teacher should understand the condition of the learner, the teacher should communicate with them as like their son or daughter. The mutual relationship is good for motivating language learners, they can talk each other closely, the learner open mind to the teacher and tell the difficulties in learning, so that the teacher know what s/he is going to do to make it better. Otherwise for increase the self confidence of the learner, when the teacher has been closed each other, it will be easy for the teacher to persuade and make the learner active in the class. Lecturers’ appreciation helps student-teachers to value their own effort and gain confidence in their learning; confidence is one of the affective factors needed to achieve engagement of students in classroom activities (Theobald, 2006).

The next Ten Commandments is make the language classes interesting and promote learner autonomy. In this case, we think that make the language classes interesting is not so far from create a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere of the class. Accordingly, the concept of ‘interest’ has been given its due importance in Gardner’s (1985) original model and also in more recent approaches to L2 motivation. In all, it is expected that by finding teaching strategies to make class more engaging and interesting, a learner’s general attitude toward learning English will improve, and furthermore, there may be an improvement in long-term motivation. Then, for promoting the learner autonomy, accordingly to Spratt, et, al. (2002) autonomy and motivation has relationship, their research about which one comes first motivation or autonomy. Some writers says that autonomy leads motivation such as Decy and Ryan for example, state in their 1985 work on intrinsic motivation that ‘intrinsic motivation will be operative when action is experienced as autonomous’ (p. 29). Similarly Dickinson in his 1995 review article on autonomy and motivation concludes that:

there is substantial evidence from cognitive motivational studies that learning success and enhanced motivation is conditional on learners taking responsibility for their own learning, being able to control their own learning and perceiving that their learning successes or failures are to be attributed to their own efforts and strategies rather than to factors outside their control. Each of these conditions is a characteristic of learner autonomy as it is described in applied linguistics. (p. 174)

Thus, as Ushioda explicitly states, ‘Autonomous language learners are by definition motivated learners’ (1996:2).

The eighth of commandments is personalize the learning process, the language course should be personally relevant to the learner. According to Dörnyei, et, al. (1998:217) we can say that the personalize is similar with making mutual relationship, because both of them want to teacher and the learner close each other, they want the learner can share personal information. The last is increaseing the learners’ goal-orientedness and familiarize learners with the target language culture. As Oxford and Shearin have concluded ‘Goal-setting can have exceptional importance in stimulating L2 learning motivation, and it is therefore shocking that so little time and energy are spent in the L2 classroom on goal-setting’ (1994:19). Then, goal has oriented that which according to Gardner and Lambert as cited in Jacques (2001) distinguish two classes of goals (orientations) in language learning: (a) the integrative orientation, in which one desires to learn to communicate with the other, and (b) instrumental orientation, which refers to a desire to learn the L2 in getting the occupation or for the future life. As the result, the learners should know the goal that the will reach by learning second or foreign language.

Finally, familiarize the language with culture, it is the important think to give information for the learner. That is way to make the L2 become real by giving the background of the language and promoting contact for the native speaker. Those are the Ten Command according to Dörnyei, et, al. (1998) are able to use in motivating the language learner. by looking of those, the knowledge of the strategy can be applied for the teacher that teach language as a second or foreign language, because the ideas are clear, those are based on the teacher and the learners.

  1. Conclusion

In conclusion, learning a new language is even though as a second or foreign language, the important thing that influences the process of learning is motivation. As the explanation above, the main factor making the individual do activities is based on the motivation. Hence, how to emerge the motivation in language learners to make they feel comfort and enjoy in learning are the responsibility of the people around them, such as their family, society, environment, and especially the teacher. The teacher has special role for the learner, because the teacher is the person that almost time meet and together with them. In this case, the role of teacher in motivating the learners should use the strategy to make what the goal that they are hoped can be reach by each other. One of the writers that offers the strategy is Dörnyei and his friends giving Ten Commandments to use in motivating language learner. All of the ideas can be applied by the teacher, and according to those commandments some of the important thing that the teacher must do first is making mutual relationship with the student then understanding the classroom condition. Because we think that understanding classroom life is the important one that is able to motivate the student direct and indirectly. Closed with the student, know the problems of the learners and can decide what the appropriate activities for them intuitively will make the motivation of the student in the learning increase. As the result, the motivation not only influence from the learner itself, but also from people around him especially for the teacher. Motivation can make the student reach the goal in learning language by following the study hard and having good knowledge. The greater your motivation, the bigger your success.

  1. Reference

Dörnyei, Z. and Csizér, K. 1998. Ten Commandments for Motivating Language Learners: Results of an Empirical Study. UK: Thames Valley University.

Spratt, M. et, al. 2002. Autonomy and Motivation: Which Comes First?. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Kassing, Rachmania Bachhar. 2011. Perceptions of Motivational Teaching Strategies in an EFL Classroom: The Case of a Class in a Private University in Indonesia. Wellington: Victoria University.

Shahbaz, M. and Liu, Y. 2012. Complexity of L2 Motivation in an Asian ESL Setting. Northeast Normal University.

Ebata, M. 2008. Motivation factors in Language Learning. Tokyo: Digital Hollywood University.