Creating and Authentic EFL Learning Environment to Enhance Student Motivation to Study English
Keywords: EFL, language learning, language teaching, suprasegmentals, intonation, pitch range
Wen-chi Vivian Wu and Pin-hsiang Natalie Wu
Chien-kuo Technology University, Taiwan
Dr. Wen-chi Vivian Wu (corresponding) is an assistant professor currently teaching at the Department of Applied Foreign Languages of Chien-kuo Technology University in Taiwan. Her research Interests include CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) and EFL Learning Environment. She is enthusiastic in combining language classroom with technology.
Dr. Pin-hsiang Natalie Wu is an assistant professor presently teaching at the Department of Applied Foreign Languages of Chien-kuo Technology University in Taiwan. She has been involved in British and American literature teaching, and also language teaching for many years. Her research interests include British and American literature and teaching literature. She is now bringing more student-centered activities into the classroom to motivate students for their love for literature.
English in Taiwan, just like the majority of countries in Asia, is treated as a subject for study rather than as a living language to be spoken in daily conversation. Therefore, the EFL classroom context is very different from a natural ESL learning environment. The lack of a surrounding community of English speakers outside the classroom increases the challenge for EFL instructors (Parker, 1995). Pi¨rez (2004) claimed that the opportunity for communication in authentic situations and settings is a major factor for second-language acquisition by adults. Another important determinant of language learning achievement is motivation (Dornyei, 1994). Chang and Shu (2000) also claimed that there is a positive relationship between the learning environment and student motivation, stating that a good learning environment helps to improve the learning outcomes, and inspires and boosts the learning spirit.
This empirical study, using quantitative methodology, explored the perceptions of students at a Taiwanese technical university concerning its EFL learning environment in three aspects: the physical environment, instructional arrangements, and social interaction. The study also examined the relationship between the learning context and student motivation. Quantitative data revealed that the EFL environment in the three aspects was considered by students to be an obstacle to their learning, and that student motivation positively correlated with the learning environment. The paper concludes with recommendations by the researchers for improving practice.