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Positive Attitude

During the Giving It stage of B-SLIM it is important to teach students more than just grammar and vocabulary.  In addition to teaching culture, language awareness and classroom language, it is important to teach students a positive attitude and its value.  At first this may seem like a daunting task, especially when working with teenagers, but after looking at the importance of a positive attitude in learning it is easy to see the effect it can have on teaching.  In this section we will discuss factors that affect students’ attitudes and ways in which positive attitudes can be developed and maintained in the classroom. 

 

What factors can affect a student’s attitude?

The attitude learners have towards (a) the target language; (b) target language speakers; (c) the target language's culture; (d) the social value of learning the target language; (e) particular uses of the target language; and (f) themselves as members of their own culture will have either a positive or negative influence on the learner's desire and hence, their ability to achieve proficiency in the TL (Stern, 1983; Scarcella & Oxford, 1992).

How does a positive attitude really influence learning?

Having a positive attitude toward the language and culture and toward learning a foreign language is an important contributor to the success of foreign language learning.  A positive attitude might spur learners to interact with native speakers, which in turn increases the amount of input that learners receive.  A positive attitude often leads learners to use a variety of learning strategies that can facilitate skill development in language learning.  A positive attitude brings out greater overall effort on the part of language learners and typically results in greater success in terms of global language proficiency and competence in specific language skills such as listening, speaking, reading and writing.  A positive attitude also helps learners maintain their language skills after classroom instruction is over (Gardner, 1985).

How can I help my students develop and maintain a positive attitude in the language classroom?

Because attitude is so very important in language learning, instructional activities and materials should be exciting, stimulating, and interesting to learners. Moreover, teachers should pay special attention to the attitudes students bring to second language learning as teachers may have to overturn stereotypic or negative views toward the target culture, language, people and language learning process.

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Copyright © Olenka Bilash May 2009 ~ Last Modified January 2011