Syllabus Among the First and Second Year Cadets Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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English as a second language courses can be found to be growing in significance due to the perceived universality of the language. However, the effectiveness of learning the language relies on the amount of motivation the students have. Although motivation plays an important role in inducing the students to effectively learn the language and perform optimally in class, it was found that motivation is affected by many factors and can then be indeed complex. This study explores motivation among students in the context of English language courses in a military academy in Saudi Arabia.

This paper initially presents an exploration on the different facets of motivation and how this is specifically discussed in the second language learning environment. Furthermore, motivation is examined in the aspect of task-based models, especially as to how this may create an impact on the perceptions and responses of the students towards the syllabus. The English syllabus at the KKMA is then evaluated as based on the qualitative and quantitative responses of the first and second year cadets, in addition to interviews with the participating teachers in the academy.

This study then finds that there is a general positive attitude towards English as a language that needs to be learned; however, the shortcomings of the syllabus have served as discouraging points for the students, thereby affecting their attitudes and motivations towards English language learning. This study therefore presented a sample syllabus to the participating teachers in which it was assessed based on appropriateness, material and relevance to the scientific foundations of syllabus development. Discussion Summary

Based on the previous chapters, it can be gathered that motivation has many layers with many factors affecting the perception, cognition and the behaviour of the individual. When it comes to the aspect of language learning, any language student may have varying reasons for learning a second language, and basically, this may fall under whether this is for general language learning or for special purposes. In any case, the main point in learning can be seen in the response towards the processes as represented through the designed syllabus.

This study basically examines two main aspects in learning a second language, and these are through motivation in conjunction with syllabus design. In examination, motivation emanates from the student whereas the syllabus is external; the intrinsic element, which is the motivation, is evidently a combination of internal and external factors. Since motivation results to behaviour, it qualifies as an internal drive. The reviewed literature on motivation shows how it affects behaviour, but eventually, although motivation may be present, it does not immediately translate to positive behaviours related to the forces behind the motivation.

This is to say, for instance, that any language student may have the motivation to learn a second language but there are also the derivatives that may lead to the student getting demotivated. Motivation has been indeed defined according to the resulting action from the established instrumental or integrative need, but motivation, as can be seen in the proceeding discussions in this paper, can be seen to function like a switch: some students may get demotivated despite the fact that the motivation is in place.

Learning a second or a new language is not really an immediate need unless found necessary, the necessity of which is identified by means of the established motivation. Language skills are developed according to communication needs, and this is resolved through the knowledge and utilisation of a persons primary language. Learning a second language therefore points at a new set of motivations which in essence have their own purposes. This is why although learning a second language can be based on a set of motivations, the intensity and the degree of motivation may vary.

An important discussion in the review of related literature, as found to be strongly relevant to the study at hand, is the model presented by Keller (1983), as further supplemented by the Crooke and Schmidts model (1991). Kellers education-oriented model of motivation demonstrates how in the context of second language learning motivation needs to come from two points: the motivation coming from the student, and the motivation induced by the syllabus as translated into the learning environment and instructional techniques.

The motivation that comes from the student establishes the degree of motivation which can be reflected by the effort of the student in learning the language whereas the syllabus, although also affective on the amount of effort and influential in the motivation, can be regarded as a potential demotivator. The motivation in this study is therefore in place; as this examines the motivational factors of the cadets of KKMA, the primary motivation can be seen in the instrumental aspect of course requirement.

The cadets are subject to learn the course because it is a part of the curriculum, therefore the instrumental element is already a given. However, the degree and intensity of motivation varies. Some cadets responded with a generally favourable view towards the English language as a need both or either as instrumental (for success, opportunities, travel, etc. ) and integrative (getting familiarised with English-language components such as the media, the accepted universality of the language, etc. ) factor.

The intrinsic motivation of the majority of the studys sample, the first and second year cadets, is dominantly positive towards their perceptions towards the English language. The majority of the cadets imparted their view on English both as a requirement (instrumental) and as a skill that responds to their personal views on the language and how this may be beneficial for them (integrative). This thereby responds to Gardner and Lamberts (1972) discussions on motivation which were further supplemented by discourses presented by Deci and Ryan (1985; 2000).

Moreover, Gardner and Tremblays (1994) achievement/goal categorisation of motivation is also relevant to how these cadets may see motivation, especially with regards to how they position themselves, according to perception, with respect to the English language. Self-efficacy, as explored by Zimmerman (2000), also shows how important certain intrinsic fundamentals are when it comes to learning something new. This shows that even in the aspect of language, the self-assessment in terms of capability to learn as based on pre-established knowledge (i.

e. familiarity with the language) can also serve as a form of encouragement and motivation among the students. What is important in motivation is how it gives way to action; Ushioda (2008) mentioned that motivation steps beyond what moves the person to something that leads to making decisions and choices, and then action, and lastly, persistence. Based on this, when it comes to examining the motivation of the cadets in KKMA, the effectiveness of the motivation eventually reflects in the performance.

However, performance in this setting needs to be induced by means of the syllabus through the enumerated tasks that would serve as a rating platform. Although this study does not delve too much on the actual performance measures of the surveyed students, this research examined how students would assess their motivation through their personal views on learning the English language in the context of a military school, and their views on the main, current instrument in their learning processes which is the syllabus.

In evaluating the syllabus, there are evidently the positive and the negative factors that are concerned, with the latter stressing the need to make some modifications to the current ESP syllabus particularly in the first and second year levels. The syllabus concerns both the content, the designed instructional methodologies, and the materials used in the class especially the textbook. In a sense it can be observed that from this study the syllabus greatly factors into the motivational facet of the students, with the syllabus deemed as not up to par to the motivational expectations of the surveyed KKMA cadets.

Another important consideration of this study is the learning environment of these students; their primary training is according to the fundamental platforms of the KKMA. Although the general curriculum is divided into training and the academics, the entire educational experience at the KKMA is in the military context. In terms of training prioritisation, much is emphasised on the military rather than the civilian. Interestingly, this also creates an impact in the learning motivation of the KKMA cadets especially as language learning is currently focused on the military themes.

From the study, this creates a potential point of conflict according to the opinions of the interviewed teachers who are also a part of this research. When it comes to the motivational chain enumerated by Ushioda (2008), as also seen in the definition of motivation by Ball (1977) and Brown (1987), it is not enough that motivation serves as a drive but it should also reflect the degree of response and action encouraged by the motivational factors. In this case, this comes in the form of the syllabus which essentially serves as the task-motivation source of the cadets response towards English language learning.

This is especially important in the educational context and in the language learning process because the students are learning a basic skill (communication) for secondary and special purposes (English as a second and special-purpose language), which initially work as a school requirement that can be further enforced by integrative, cognitive and affective forces. Motivation is thereby key to the English language education of the KKMAs cadets which is reflective of the effectiveness of the entire program as translated into the students performance and proficiency.

First Motivational Factor: Perceptions on English as a Universal Language Surveyed students at the KKMA have the predominating view that English is a universal language. This universality agrees with the common knowledge that English is the lingua franca. Responses by the cadets reflect how they see the importance of English because of its global relevance. The language is widely spoken and serves as the default language in international and cross-cultural communications. The students shared this perception through their respective observations in terms of the wide reach of the language.

Many students noted that English would be useful in hospitals and in computers, in addition to the extent of its usage in the media. Students noted that English is used in new machinery and new inventions, and that English is the language of modern science. Another important aspect is how they perceive English as instrumental to many opportunities. Reasons that came up as to its importance noted that the language would be useful especially if there are plans to study abroad and get training overseas.

Proficiency in the language has also signified a sense of success and is useful for job opportunities. These elements are considered as sources of instrumental and integrative motivations. First year students, during the qualitative portion of the study, pointed out that English is used in places such as hospitals and markets, thereby exemplifying the instrumental influence of the language. Integrative factors include the basic want to read, write, speak and listen to English, and the idea that learning the language raises ones self-esteem.

Surveyed second year cadets also gave similar views as to the universality of the language especially as it is widely used and that English has been a standard. English as a motivational factor does establish a combination of drive and reinforcement, but the drive is mainly influenced by the external forces that have placed English in its current position. Globalisation can be regarded as a strong source of reinforcement. These cadets, especially this generation, are well aware of the English languages niche due to their exposure to the media, from the traditional to the electronic forms such as the Internet.

Globalisation has made exchange more possible which is why more and more students are aiming to receive international training in order to increase their competitiveness. Based on this first motivational factor, it can be gathered that from the externalitiesthe increasing role of English in the global context has further influenced the perceptions of young students in terms of its importance. It can be observed that these students have had a more global view and are aware of the fact that Englishs continuous pressing presence can be seen in the markets and the hospitals, and in the products they buy and consume.

This is why the need to learn English, at this rate, can be seen to be prevalent; however, the degree of motivation to learn is still subject to examination based on other motivational factors. In looking at English as a motivation, its strong force can attributed to the relevance of the language today. The general responses of the cadets from KKMA reflect how this relevance has led to the prevailing perception that English has become a need; this is reminiscent of what McDonough (1981) mentioned as a factor that needs to be achieved, especially as the appeal of the language also includes many instrumental benefits.

Another important point is how English has been associated with success which is why as a goal, the language takes in the form of a course as a task, and the responses towards this task translates to the cadets performance in class in order to prevent failing the subject (Atkinson, 1964). The second and the last factors can be said to determine the degree of motivation a student may have towards the class. Although the motivation is in place, the degree of motivation may vary. The difference can be seen in the task at hand with its incentives, and the projections of the student when it comes to succeeding or failing.

In any classroom context where performance is measured through the grading system, degrees of motivation depend on how the student responds to the worth of the task as an incentive; some may see that the subject as worth the effort for a passing grade only whereas some may be more motivated and deliver excellent performance. This may depend on how the student measures or estimates his capacity to give priority to certain subjects. This is why, as Gardner and Lambert (1972) and Gardner (1982) pointed out, motivation and attitude are vital especially in language learning.

Second Motivational Factor: English Background from Secondary School Experience Prior to joining the academy, the cadets also took up English in secondary school; their grades in the subject would be also among the main qualifications considered in their acceptance in KKMA. This study asked through qualitative and quantitative channels the rate of motivation as based on their English background from secondary school. Most of the students imparted their views on the relevance and importance of secondary school English which would be instrumental to their further studies in KKMA.

Most of the students mentioned the significance of English at this level, and the prevailing motivation at that point was the need to pass examinations and the perceived importance of the language. Responses showed that English helped while watching and listening to international media (television, music, etc. ), and that they already identified the need through would travel and opportunities to speak with foreigners. These responses of the students relates to the discussions presented by Crookes and Schmidt (1991) in terms of the relevance of the instruction outside the classroom and motivation as enforced by personal interests.

This also reflects the integrative aspect of motivation in which Dornyei (2001) discussed intrinsic motivation as based on experience and satisfaction. Inspiration also played a big role in English learning motivation at secondary level, as demonstrated by responses of second year cadets. Some cadets mentioned that the inspiration would come from celebrities, or other people who just gave inspiration and influence to learn the language. A common negative view among first and second year cadets as to their secondary school English learning experience has been mostly attributed to the presence of unqualified teachers teaching the language.

The cadets also noted difficulty in the syllabus. Other negative external factors include the lack of encouragement from friends and peers. An interesting factor raised by the majority of the cadets was the identification of the presence of unqualified teachers in English classrooms. Criticisms on the instruction, instructors, and the instruction methodologies of the subject elicit enough attention in checking the competence of secondary level English courses. The importance in this is that secondary school is instrumental to motivational factors among students, especially on subjects that continue on to the tertiary level such as English.

This further carry overs at higher learning levels, and already shows how instruction and methodologies play an important part in the learning motivation of the students. Third Factor: On the Academys English Syllabus According to Keller (1983), in the education-based motivation, the following elements are important: interest, relevance, expectancy, and outcome. In examining the current English syllabus at the KKMA, it can be gathered that based on the responses of the students, the syllabus falls short in these four aspects.

First, although the interest is there, the syllabus did not meet expectations in terms of content and activities that would garner the interest of the cadets. The relevance, as can be seen in the next discussions, is limited; although the learning environment is a military school, there was in fact the expectations that English language learning themes should also touch on civilian examples. Last but not the least, the current syllabus does not hold enough incentives as can be seen in the outcomes; the only outcome is basically based on the grading which is why the English subjects in KKMA is mainly perceived as just another subject.

First year cadets had many expectations on the kind of syllabus they are going to learn in the academy. Perceptions on English training courses may be influenced by their experience in English courses from the previous school year. Hence, when asked about their expectations on the kind of English syllabus they would have in KMAA, a number of students expected that the course content would present civilian examples, if not, a mixture of both. A small fraction presented that the syllabus would concentrate solely on the military aspects as the emphasis on the English language course syllabus.

This shows how language is associated with certain contents. Although the schools context may already indicate certain expectations when it comes to the direction of the courses found in the academy, students naturally expect that in the aspect of languages, the topics would at least venture out of the military context and make use of themes related to civilian life. This comes to mind certain aspects of motivation in terms of how something may create a drive to a person that would lead to positive actions.

As previously mentioned, motivation may come as an instrument or as a factor of integration; this usually happens if the source of motivation becomes related to a specific achievement or goal. The nature of any achievement or goal reflects a persons patter of values that would lead to behaviours that aims to make achievements (Ames, 1992). It should be also noted that the syllabus is the source of task motivation because the syllabus enumerates the learning framework and process the students go through in order to achieve a grade.

This is attested by models presented by Keller (1983) and Crookes and Schmidt (1991), in addition to Dornyei and Kormos (2000) discussion on the relationship between task performance and motivational factors. The motivation can be seen in the ability of the task to engage the learner, hence, it does count that the syllabus has components that are of great interest among the students. Based on the results of the survey, the expectations on the academys English syllabus generally sided on the role of civilian themes in learning the language.

Although the students do not renounce the utilisation of military themes in the textbook, there is the prevailing opinion that the course should use civilian examples where they find the language usage to be more relevant. Second year students expressed a general disagreement on the current syllabus and believe that the syllabus should be changed. Again, this shows an aspect of association. In addition to English being associated with success and opportunity, learning the language is found to be more comfortable in themes that are familiar to the cadets.

First and second year cadets still find the relevance of civilian life as a fundamental despite the fact that they have entered the military academy. For them, learning English is not just for the purpose of being in the military but it can be said that English is perceived as among the general skills they want to have; military jargon and language is something that only adds value to the knowledge of the English language which is why there is a dominant expectation in terms of the presence of civilian life in the academys English course.

A minor yet critical issue found among the students is the editing and the appearance of the textbook. The textbook is an important tool in learning, and the students found many weaknesses in the book including its lack of clarity and other editing problems. This therefore affects the motivation of the students as the appearance of their learning does not appear encouraging and attractive.

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