Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Principle #1: Motivation at HOME

Let’s Talk
As I have coached learners over the years,
 it’s been so interesting to explore why they want or need to learn their target language
and how those parameters impact both their choice of learning process, and their progress. 
Think of your own experiences as a language learner,
and your current context, as you look over these examples. 
** Some learners have a job to do, and they need the language to do it.  Someone else may be requiring them to learn certain things in a certain period of time, so they fell pressure to learn what they need to know.  It’s an extra challenge for them to consider their learning as an important part of the journey, rather than just the means to an end.
** Others have family or friends they ‘just want to understand’.   Their learning is sometimes driven by special events or gatherings where the language is being used, and they want to feel like ‘insiders’ rather than spectators.
** Some have moved into a new place and the community where they will live and work speaks a different language.  To feel like they are integrated in this new community, there are certain things it’d be helpful to be able to say and understand. 
** A few simply think language learning is fun and they want to add another language to their repertoire!
Where do you fit in…or are you someplace else ?

Share your comments with us below.

The Task
Now that we have looked briefly at the 3 dimensions of cross-cultural communication which we can engage in our language learning endeavors, I need to introduce you to some basic principles about learning in general, and language learning in particular.  Our 3 Dimensional Dynamic (engaging HOME, HOST and HARBOR), informed by these principles, will lead us forward to effective learning.

The first learning principle I want to explore concerns motivation.   This is what we were talking about above.  Whatever drives your learning experience, what you desire and/or need to gain from it is what we call “motivation”.  

Principle #1: Successful learning is heavily impacted by learner motivation. 
a)  high motivation increases the probability of successful learning 
b)  low motivation tends to impede learning
Motivation includes:
a)  internal factors  (what do I want or need?)
b)  external factors (what is someone else telling me I need?) 

This being the case, it’s clearly important for us to examine our motivation as we move forward with our learning.  We can start at HOME - where we find ourselves as learners.  To do this:

** It’s helpful to review, document and reflect on past learning experiences’ motivations and how these impacted those experiences for better or for worse   Let’s celebrate success and see how high motivation might have contributed to it.  Let’s also become aware that difficult experiences may well have been due in part of low motivation. 
** We can then benefit from these reflections as we bring lessons learned into our current and future endeavors. 

** The good thing about motivation is that, to some extent, it is a choice – or it can be, if we are aware of what it is and how it will impact our success.

Share your comments with us below.

The Tools

Borrowing from the Learner ID (a useful tool suggested in Section 2):
1.  choose a previous learning experience you’d like to benefit from more fully
2.  work through the following questions about this learning experience’s motivation.


a)   Briefly describe the experience. 
      Was your motivation internal (from your own desires/needs)
                                   or external (some other influence making you learn)  

b)  How would you ‘grade’ your motivation for that learning experience?

      High - I really wanted to learn the language to be able to interact, to communicate effectively
      Moderate: it would have been nice to be able to interact somewhat
           (greetings, pleasantries,  meeting basic needs)
      Low – I felt uncomfortable when the other language was spoken, wishing the person could or
           would use my language but I felt like I should at least try at times to use the language
      Zero: I had no desire to learn this language
                It didn’t matter to me that I could not interact with what was going on around me

c)   Describe how your motivation level impacted the experience

Briefly describe your current learning experience.
Complete (a) and (b) considering your motivation now.
And finally, think about this choice which you have:

d)   How what you see from your previous experience can be used to help inform – strengthen – change your motivation level for this experience to help make it a successful endeavor.

Share your comments with us below.

Have a good, highly motivated tme working through this!

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