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YOUNG ADULT’S ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE OTHER AND ITS INFLUENCE UPON THE SUCCESS DYNAMICS OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

YOUNG ADULT’S ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE OTHER AND ITS INFLUENCE UPON THE SUCCESS DYNAMICS OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
Kret Marina, postgraduate student

Southern Federal University, Russia

Conference participant

This article deals with the young people’s attitude impact upon the success of the foreign language acquisition. Positive attitude towards the Other (teacher and group classmates) contribute to the success of the foreign language acquisition. The analysis is based on data gathered in private linguistic schools consisted of 126 respondents 16-27 years old (42 young men and 84 young women) who were divided into 3 subgroups according to the language acquisition dynamics. The respondents’ test results supported by the teachers’ observation were taken as a success criterion. The main characteristics of the sample are based on gender (male, female) and age group. The results of the tests were taken into consideration in order to divide the sample into the subgroups, they were also supported by teacher’s opinion about students’ progress. The results reveal the correlation between the attitudes towards the Other-teacher and the group with the success dynamics of the foreign language acquisition.

Key words: attitude towards the other, success, success dynamics, foreign language acquisition, test results

The overview of the socio-psychological studies which have been carried out within the language classroom, due to the fact that the teaching of the languages is realized in small groups, the modern language teaching methodology uses different effects and phenomena like creation of the social situation at the lesson, interpersonal influence, identity building, social facilitation effect, «team decision making» effect, exploiting group dynamics, ensuring group cohesiveness and etc. and show significant bearings of socio-psychological phenomena upon the foreign language learning success. As Fazio R.H. and A. Olson believe that “the attitudes have been viewed as the shining star of social psychology” (Fazio R.H., Olson A., 2003, p.155), one of the lines of our research has been dedicated to the attitudes studies.

Taking into consideration the fact that it is difficult to imagine someone’s life without attitudes, because they help to avoid danger, make a decision quickly, but sometimes they impose artificial limits to our development.  Before starting our research, we bared in mind that attitudes are endurable, moreover, negative attitudes exist longer than positive ones. As they formed through associations, it is a long term work to replace them by the new ones. Their most important characteristics are their strength and accessibility (Fazio, Chen, Mc Ponel& Sherman, 1982), attitude certainty (Tormala, Z. L., & Petty, R. E., 2002, Tormala, Z. L., & Rucker, D. D. 2007). Need to evaluate as a personal trait (Maio& Esses, 2001) is related to attitude extremity.  Negative attitudes lead to avoiding behavior and have an impact on the learning success. The attitudes are displayed in three dimensions: believes, feelings and behavior.  Ambivalent attitudes change quickly into positive or negative depending on stimulus activated by a particular situation. Depending on the style of the decision making  and affect  intensity (Elen M.et al.,2012, Basso, Schefft, & Hoffmann, 1994, Barrone al., 2000, Shwarz, Bless, Bohner ,1991) people refer to the existing explicit attitude , or they are forced to construct  a new implicit attitude. The third reason why we studied the attitude impact upon learning success, due to the fact that attitude importance increases from early adulthood to age 50 (Visser & Krosnick,1998)and then begins to decrease after age 65. So the intervention made at the period of the early adulthood is predicted to be more successful then at the other periods of the adulthood.

The classes were carried out according to modern communicative method which is thought- provoking and interesting for the students which is believed to prevent automatic stereotyping (Stewart B.D.,   Payne B.K., 2008). The task –oriented teaching was called to play the role of the attitude moderating context (Boarden, Maddux, Petty & Brewer, 2006, Sun Jun, 2009).

A lot of research has been recently taken to study the methods of increasing acceptance of the members of the group by each other, improving group cohesiveness and suggesting how to manage the group dynamics, group norms, classroom climate (Dorney Z., Malderez A., 1997, Jones & Jones, 2000; Schmuck& Schmuck, 2001), they underline that sometimes group pressure or mutual dislike bring significant pressure upon the member of the group but there is no even approximate estimations how the attitude towards Other has impact upon learning success or success dynamics. Other scholars like Boekharts (1987) point out that learners according to their previous experiences and socio-psychological features may encode some certain aspects of the learning environment in a different manner, finding them interesting, stressful or challenging. That is the second reason why our study addresses the question of how attitude towards the Others is related with the success dynamics of the foreign language acquisition.

Some researches have proved that social relations have supportive effect upon the academic success (Roeser, Eccles and Sameroff, 2000, Rosenfeld, Richman and Bowen, 2000, Wentzel,1998), that perceived social support and sociometric status, rapport with  the teacher (Scrivener J., 2005) are meaningful predictors of academic success (Bahar H. H., 2010).Besides the research in different fields reveals that positive attitude towards the other is considered to be a success factor for different spheres, for example, leadership (Sandon A.,2006, Shantalebi S., Yarmohammadian M.H., Ajami S., 2011).

There is a number of the studies, which tried to establish , the meaningful correlation between the academic performance and teacher’s teaching style and learner’s learning strategies, self-discipline , empathetic climate during the lesson, student-oriented teaching style, parental support and their strategies to enhance studying a foreign language, demographic characteristics of the students (Din?ol and al.,2011, Bozkurt Tulay, Ozden, 2010, Melis Seray,2010, Ustunel Eda, 2009, Green L., Celkan G., 2011, Duckworth, A.L., Seligman, M.E.,2006). They used test results to establish success dynamics, so test scores are used to measure success in the academic field. Though there are a number of the other criteria like communicative competence, creativity of oral and written work and etc, and as these indices are difficult to compare if we have a considerable number of the respondents, we have chosen test score and teacher’s observation as the success index and the positive change of the tests results as the success dynamics.

Basing on this theoretical background we could formulate the hypothesis that explicit attitudes towards the teacher and the group has an impact upon success and success dynamics of the foreign language acquisition.

  Our research consisted of three stages. At the first stage of our research we analyzed the criteria of the success and have chosen test results as the index of the learning success, we consider the positive changes of the test results as the dynamics of the foreign language acquisition. We also analyzed adult learners’ attitudes which can have an impact upon learner’s educational results. We elaborated questionnaires, chose the diagnostic methods, determined the program of the research.

At the second stage of our research 149 people: 52-men and 97 women, from 16 up to 50 completed the questionnaires. 23 respondents were over 27 years old, they were eliminated from the sample. In order to see the dynamics of the learning results the learners were proposed tests according to the equal time intervals. All the respondents after control tests were divided into the three subgroups according to the dynamics of the learning. The results of the tests and questionnaires were calculated and transmitted into Excel tables.

At the third stage we analyzed the empirical materials, computed the data, received in the course of the research, described the socio-psychological particularities of the group of the adults, which differ by the success and the success dynamic.  We found out the correlations between attitudes and dynamics of the learners success in the foreign language acquisition. We made the regression analysis to reveal the factors weight, the degree of their impact upon learners’ success and learner’s success dynamics.

Research participants: The sample consisted of 149 adults, then 23 people were extracted belonging to the group of middle –aged people. So we examined 126 people’s data aged from 16 up to 26, which belong to the group- young adults (42 men and 84 women).

Data collection procedures: In order to measure different kinds of the attitudes towards the Other («scale of trust» by М. Rosenberg, «scale of acceptance of Others»by F. Fey, «scale of friendly attitude» by D. Campbell,  «scale of manipulation attitude» by Т. Bant,   «scale of hostility» by V. Cook-Medley,  «Fundamental interpersonal relations orientation» by W. Schutz,,    test of the integral forms of the communicative aggressiveness by Boiko V.V. Data were collected by filling in questionnaires «Assessment of the relations in the group while learning a foreign language» developed by the researcher which were destined to elicit the information about the subjective assessment of the relations with the teacher, group members and the attitude towards the subject. The scale was graded as “Yes”, “No”, “I don’t know” and “I don’t care”.

Data analysis: The verification of the differences between subgroups, their interrelation and the prediction of their cumulative influence upon the learners’ acquisition of the foreign language was made by the application of the statistical methods of Mann Whitney, Pearson Correlation Factor Analysis, and regression analysis. The collected data were computed by using SPSS version 15.00 as a software tool.

Our findings support our hypothesis. The following results were obtained: the correlation matrix indicated multi co-linearity between 42 factors and success dynamics, among them there were those of attitude .While analyzing the system of the attitudes towards the Other , we discovered that the desire of belonging to the group( r=0,2 , p<0,01), low communicative aggressiveness (r=-0, 2, p<0,03) can predict positive success dynamics. The subjective  positive attitude to the fellow-learners in the group (the feeling of the security within the group (r=0,4 , p<0,0001, the confidence in the group members’ help (r=0,2 , p<0,04), high evaluation of the work by group members (r=-0,2, p<0,02), friendly relations (r=0,4 , p<0,0001), easiness of the group inclusion (r=-0,3 , p<0,0001) facilitate learning and contribute to better success dynamics.

 The positive attitude towards the teacher correlates with the success dynamics of the foreign language acquisition. It demonstrated itself in the statements like: teacher can stop communication in time (r=0,3 , p<0,001), can express his attitude by gestures, face expressions, intonation (r=0,2, p<0,02). After creating different models of the linear regression analysis, we can state that different indices of the positive attitude towards the group influence about 18% the learner’s success dynamics (F=13,2, p<0,0001).

Though the attitudes are not the single predictors of success, we also studied motivation, teacher’s psychological features, our research shows that the positive attitude towards the other does predicts behavior- successful learning of the foreign language. As the courses lasted only three months (which are usually offered by private linguistic schools in order to achieve a new level according to European system of language assessment) - this period is not enough to create new positive attitudes towards group and teacher among some young people. It is known that the motivation changes at the lapse of time of about a year. So we can suggest that in order to build new associations with learning of the foreign language the same time is necessary for attitudes, especially when we speak about the language learning where proficiency is achieved after years of learning.

 

 

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Уважаемая Марина Крету! Социально-психологические исследования в контексте педагогической деятельности и успех в процессе обучения важный и ценный для практического изучения вопрос. Статья соответствует требованиям и достойна для представления в контексте данной конференции! Желаю творческих успехов! С уважением, Ю. Ф.
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Fornea-Stecailov Iuliana

Уважаемая Марина Крету! Социально-психологические исследования в контексте педагогической деятельности и успех в процессе обучения важный и ценный для практического изучения вопрос. Статья соответствует требованиям и достойна для представления в контексте данной конференции! Желаю творческих успехов! С уважением, Ю. Ф.
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