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Numer publikacji: 11204
Dział: Języki obce

Is computer a tool which motivates adult students to learn English?

Is computer a tool which motivates adult students to learn English?

Recent years have shown that with the development of technology learners can chose from the variety of possibilities to communicate with people around the world. It is due to Information Technology that learners can benefit. However, IT is not enough. In times when English language seems to be linking all people, the ability to communicate is a basic skill for both young and adult learners irrespective of what language level they present. The aim of a teacher is to help learners achieve success making learners acquainted with new technologies and language learning possibilities keeping in mind that the key to success is students’ motivation.
What motivates learners is not clear though. It has recently been thought that computer is the tool motivating them to learn as it is considered a new window to the world. That is why the aim of this study is to find out whether computer activities motivate adult learners to learn English, whether this tool is an incentive which makes students use computer and the Internet willingly.

1. Procedure
The research aims at drawing conclusions whether computer synchronous and asynchronous tools of communication used in class activities motivate adult learners to learn English.
During school activities adult students were exposed to:
Asynchronous tools:
1. Teacher’s blog
2. Dialogue journal
3. E-mails
a. Teacher-student
b. Student - pen friend
Synchronous tools:
1. Chat
a. Computer bot
b. ICQ

The research was carried out by means of:

1. observation of students lesson performance
2. questionnaires concerning analysis of :
a. students’ attitude to computer activities;
b. students’ performance during lessons at school;
c. students’ post-lesson learning of English;
3. interview with students

2. Results.
2.1. Observation of students’ lesson performance.
The analysis of students’ lesson performance, on the basis of teacher’s observation, led to conclude what factors motivate and demotivate learners in computer mediated communication. These are:
Motivational factors in case of blogs:
1. current school problems to solve in school (students can influence school authorities’ decisions)
Demotivational factors:

1. writing abilities
2. ss’ name known to the public
3. feeling forced to perform the task
4. unwillingness to use computers

Motivational factors in case of dialogue journal:

1. interesting topic
2. possibility to present ss’ personality
3. good relation with a teacher
4. developing communication skills
5. improving writing skills
6. appreciation by a teacher
7. training to communicate with pen friends in the future

Demotivational factors in case of dialogue journal:

1. lack of computer and the Internet at home
2. personality (being a shy learner)
3. fear for no subject to write about
4. unwillingness to use computers

Motivational factors in case of emails sent to a teacher:

1. focus on understanding not accuracy
2. computer help in checking spelling
3. training to communicate with pen friends in the future

Demotivational factors in case of emails sent to a teacher:


1. unwillingness to use computers
2. inability to send emails
3. lack of computer and the Internet at home
4. no need to communicate with a teacher as preparation to exchanging emails with English speaking people

Motivational factors in case of dialogue with a computer bot:

1. desire to experiment (checking computer capabilities)
2. immediate response from an interlocutor
3. learn new words, phrases
4. have fun

Demotivational factors in case of dialogue with a computer bot:

1. difficulty in understanding
2. problems with equipment
3. difficulty with the program, the Internet connection
3. problems with long questions that are not understood by a computer bot

Motivational factors in case of sending emails to pen friends:

1. real communication with people from the whole world
2. possibility to assess ss’ communication skills
3. building self-belief that ss understand and are understood by others
4. opportunity to make friends
5. possibility to exchange emails with opposite sex
6. feeling of success
7. prospect of putting theory into practice (I can finally use what I have learnt so far)

Demotivational factors in case of sending emails to pen friends:

1. no answer from pen friends
2. no need to exchange emails with pen friends
3. fear of making mistakes

Motivational factors in case of ICQ chat:

1. real online communication with people from the whole world
2. possibility to assess ss’ communication skills
3. building self-belief that ss understand and are understood by others
4. opportunity to make friends
5. possibility to exchange emails with opposite sex
6. feeling of success
7. prospect of putting theory into practice (I can finally use what I have learnt so far)
and
8. no necessity to wait long time for response (immediate answer)
9. source of slang and vulgar words
10. possibility to learn acronyms
11. learning about other people’s lifestyle, subculture
12. to see Poland and Polish people in the eyes of other nationalities
13. interesting subjects of conversation (sex)
14. possibility to check communication skills
15. opportunity to communicate with others without necessity to reveal real personality, data
16. other people’s weaknesses

Demotivational factors in case of ICQ chat:

1. no need to communicate with pen friends
3. fear of making mistakes
4. too many users at the same time
5. difficulties with understanding
6. illogical responses
7. disjointed sentences
8. difficulty to find a partner to develop interesting conversation
9. vulgar words
10. impolite interlocutors
11. being used as a tool to check other people’s language skills
12. being ignored by chat users
13. too fast pace of communication
14. boring or no subject to talk about

These are motivational and demotivational factors in synchronous and asynchronous mode of communication.

2.2. Questionnaire results.

Questionnaires concerned the analysis of :
a. students’ attitude to computer activities;
b. students’ performance during lessons at school;
c. students’ post-lesson learning of English;

It is worth to enumerate the communication activities which had the strongest influence on students in such a way that they made them inspired to even more effort in learning English.

On the basis of questionnaire results it may be observed that the most motivational factors in computer communication activities were, respectively:
(if take into consideration the number of students who ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’)

1. possibility to talk to people from the whole world (online chatting) and gaining the feeling of self-confidence in communicating with others (ICQ).
2. improving the quality of my communication in written form (writing emails).
3. experimenting (communication with computer bot).
4. writing emails with a teacher as a good exercise to communicate later in speech.
5. expressing the point of view in public (blog) and having chance to write on different subjects.(journal writing).

2.3. Interview with students.
In the interview, students were to respond to the questions:
1. Do you want to or do you have to learn English ?
2. What motivates you to learn English?
While answering to questions students were switching directly to the second question and, as they deduced, this question was the result of recent computer school activities. This is why learners seemed to say more about their attitude to using computer to learn English than about other motivational factors. The answer to the first question can be figured out from their point of view expressed in the second response. If they do not say whether they want or have to learn English and are excited to use computer to learn English, it can be assumed that they do not have to but want to learn English.

In the response to the first question, whether students want or have to learn English, learners enumerated the reasons for and against learning English presented below.
Table 3. The response to the question:” Do you want or do you have to learn English?”
What motivates students to learn English, was the question which was not included in the observation but is crucial to understand students’ engagement in computer activities and their attitude to learning English in general.
1. The possibility to find a good job
2. My own purposes
3. Communication with others
4. Communication with English speaking family in England
5. Good marks at school
6. Satisfaction
8. Computer because it is:
• basic communication tool (Skype)
• source of information
• online dictionary
• the source of grammar exercises
• chip form of communication with people
• good way to make lessons are more attractive, dynamic
• effective tool for individual work

a tool which:

• allows to work in the pace of a student
• immediately corrects students just after their work
• saves time
• students are interested in
• is improving language skills
• presents educational English games
• checks students’ English
• makes students addicted to chatting

The students, who took part in the interview, stressed the possibility to find a good job
as an important factor to learn English. Receiving good marks at school seems to be important for some of learners too. This is the factor that influences them. Also the possibility to talk in English to their relatives in England is an incentive to learn English. Some learners learn English just for the satisfaction.
As it can be observed, learners introduced some more reasons why they like computers in learning English. These are: the possibility to start a hobby, the fact that computers save time, enable students with individual work and provide them with chip form of communication. What is more, they can help them train their grammar skills and may be used as dictionaries. Computer is also the source of information about their hobbies. As far as communication is concerned, they use Skype, the synchronous tool of communication, to talk to people in English.
In the interview students also added why they are not interested in computers in English lessons.
1. I am used to using books not computers.
2. For me computer is unnecessary.
3. I have no interest in computers.
4. I am impatient working with computers.
5. I do not have a computer at home.
6. I do not have time to go to the multimedia center to use
computers.
7. I do not need to communicate with anybody using
a computer.
8. I am not used to computers.
9. I am distracted while using computers.
10. I am impatient in computer activities.
11. I am furious when something is wrong with my computer.
12. I do not need to learn English at all.
The results, obtained in this interview, concerning computer as the tool which does motivate them to learn English are the same as in the questionnaire. Students did not mention about any other factors that influence them.

2.4. The results of the research classified according to kinds of motivation.
Motivational and demotivational factors in learning English can be classified according to kinds of motivation described in previous chapters. They are based on the results of observation, questionnaires and the interview with students.
2.4.1. Integrative motivation.
Some students, in the interview with the teacher, mentioned the need to go abroad or to communicate with English speaking members of their family as motivating factors to learn English. Added to this, as the results of questionnaires show thanks to computers 77,5 % of students declare to be strongly motivated and 22,5 % agree they are motivated to learn English by chatting. Writing emails to pen friends is the computer activity that 37,5% approve of giving them the feeling of strong motivation to learn English. 32% of students also agree with motivational function of exchanging emails in English.
The fact that the learners can chat in English or exchange emails in English with people of many nationalities makes them integrate into the world of English speaking community. Thanks to synchronous and asynchronous forms of using computer to communication, learners become involved in social interchange and at the same time become the part of the international English speaking group of people.
2.4.2. Instrumental motivation.
The instrumental motivation is reflected in attaining short-term goals such as carrier or passing exams, goals which reflect practicality of language use. The school, students attend to, does not require them to enter any exams in English. Thus, this form of motivation is not reflected in the student’ responses. In the interview with the teacher, learners mention the motivational factor, which is the possibility to find a good job, provided one can speak English well. Practicality of language is the feature of instrumental motivation. This aspect of language is seen in students’ willingness to use computer as a tool. Computers make them interested in communicating and this very fact refers to the characteristic feature of instrumental motivation. According to the students, computer and the Internet is the quickest way to communicate. 65% of students strongly agree and 12,5 % agree this is the motivational factor in practicing English while communicating with others. What is more, they treat some computer activities as preparation to speak English in real (face to face) situation. Emails are seen as preparation to communicate with English speaking people. 37,5% strongly agree and 32,5 % agree with the motivational status of exchanging emails as preparation to communicate later in speech.
The next practical factor of learning English with the use of computers is also seen in the interview with students. One respondent said that for him low costs of communication via the Internet is important. This is also the practical aspect of language use. Apart from this, students were given opportunity to express their point of view on teacher’s blog. This computer activity prepares them to similar activities in the future. Apart from the use of English, students learnt how to enter blogs. The blog activity was seen as strongly motivational to 47,5 % and motivational to 15 % of respondents.
This instrumental motivation can also be reflected in attaining another short-term goal which is the desire to experiment, to have fun while learning English, to check computer technology to find interesting forms of entertainment. The conversation with computer bots is such an experiment, strongly approved as motivational factor to learn English, by 77,5% of respondents.

2.4.3. Extrinsic motivation.

This form of motivation can be observed in the interview with students, when they mention grades as factors motivating them to learn English. The learners revealed they do not need computers to learn English or do not like them but good marks in school motivate them to learn.
The feeling of being understood by chat users seems to be a kind of students’ immediate gratification which can also be classified as extrinsic motivational factor. For 50% of students this is a strong motivational factor, 15% agree with the motivational force of satisfaction when their English is understood by others.

2.4.4. Intrinsic motivation.
As intrinsically motivated students do not need any apparent reward for their work, the activity itself satisfies them. Learners are involved in an activity for their own sake. Among the learners who seemed to be intrinsically motivated there was one student who in his response to the questions in the interview showed self satisfaction while dealing with computer communication activities. This feeling of self satisfaction and curiosity in coping with activities made him determined to complete tasks. What is more, he said he felt addicted to ICQ chatting and he perceived his new chatting experiments funny. He represents these students for whom curiosity, pleasure, self-determination, self satisfaction, characteristic features of intrinsic motivation, are motivational factors in learning English.
Ambition, the next characteristic feature of intrinsic motivation, is observed in some students’ work. These students who want to perform in computer activities actively admit that thanks to computer communicative tasks, they are given more opportunity to be active during a lesson. 70% of students either strongly agree or agree with this motivational aspect. They need to control their progress in acquiring English and they appreciate computer possibilities. They can verify their knowledge being understood by others or check grammar skills using computer programs on the Internet. 80% of students feel motivated by the possibility to be corrected by computer.

The research aimed at exploring whether computer synchronous and asynchronous tools of communication used in class activities motivate adult learners to learn English. The summary presented below constitute the results obtained in the research.
For the majority of students, (almost 55%), lesson communicative activities are motivational, they definitely stimulate students to learn English. Asynchronous tools such as: teacher’s blog, dialogue journal, e-mails sent during lessons of English and synchronous tool such as: online ICQ chat and chat with computer bots inspire learners to further learning of English language. These students strongly agree that lesson communicative activities motivate them to learn English. Adding to the score 16,15% of students who agree with motivational force of the activities it can be concluded that 70 % are motivated to learn English using computer and the Internet to communicate with others.
The next chart presents students’ computer performance at home as the result of lesson communicative activities.
In comparison with classroom acting, students were less interested in communication activities at home. Only 24,58% were using computer very often to improve communication skills. 7,5% were often chatting or writing to pen friends. Almost half of the group had never used a computer and the Internet at home to communicate with others.
Asked about computer use for communication students, in their post school activities, admitted that they used computer more often than before computer lessons at school. 35% of respondents declared they used computer to communication very often, 10% declared they used computer often. 55% rarely or never used the tool to communicate in their home studies.
Overall, the research proved that, computer synchronous and asynchronous tools of communication used in class activities motivate adult learners to learn English. This conclusion is based on the analysis of students’ responses in the interview, questionnaires and observation of their work. Trying to grade the activities according to expectations and the questionnaire results ICQ chatting should be considered as the most motivating computer communication activity. The second is writing emails, then chatting with computer bots and finally expressing students’ opinion on teacher’s blog and journal writing.
However, there are the conclusion does not concern all learners. Generally, students showed more interest in class communication activities than in their computer activities at home.
Concerning all above, it must be also added that there are students who do not feel motivated to communicate with English speaking community by use of computers. 21,73% does not feel motivated to use computer to communicate. This result concerns computer communication activities students dealt with in a classroom. The percent of students who did not consider computer communication activities motivational in learning English at home is 46,25%. They never used computers to communicate with English speaking people on their own.

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