March JALT Event in Fukuoka



Student Perceptions of the Usefulness of Learning English


Neil McClelland


Sunday, March 21, 1999


2:00 to 5:00


Aso Foreign Language Travel College
Hakataekiminami 2-12-24
(10 minutes from Hakata Station on foot
- see the map in English or see the map in Japanese for details)


Free for JALT members; 1000 yen for non-members


Kevin O'Leary,, phone (0942) 32-0101, fax 22-2221


otivation remains a key area for intervention by teachers. Unfortunately, the theoretical constructs provided by language teaching theory often bear little relation to the real problems faced by teachers in institutional foreign language programs. In an attempt to better understand his own students, the speaker surveyed 150 sophomore EFL learners, from four universities, about their perceptions of the usefulness of learning English. The orientations that emerged coincide well with the findings from similar research in other specifically EFL contexts, and included; a wish for foreign travel, the desire for greater contact with foreigners, English media use, personal development, and interest in cultural comparison. All these appeared as independent considerations, with the implication that we should look more carefully at intrinsic factors in the analysis of motivation in foreign language learning environments. Post survey interviews further provided evidence of a certain disaffection with the norms of thought and behaviour currently prevalent in Japan, which appears to lead to an outward looking fascination with alternatives from around the world. Such reappraisal of the motivations of learners has far reaching implications for every aspect of our teaching, from program design to evaluation, and these will be discussed in the second stage of the presentation.
About the speaker:
Neil McClelland ( currently teaches in four separate universities in the Kitakyushu area, and is an executive officer of the JALT "Learner Development" National Special Interest Group. His current area of research is motivation in the second language classroom, particularly with reference to defining both long and short term learning goals.

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