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The impact of age and gender on the learners' motivation and attitudes towards French in secondary education in Flanders

Ariane Ruyffelaert UGent and Pascale Hadermann UGent (2012) INTED Proceedings. p.159-165
abstract
Motivation is one of the most important factors in the acquisition of a foreign language. A desire or a need felt by the learner is necessary to make efforts in order to achieve a certain goal. In the context of foreign language acquisition, the ultimate goal would be the perfect mastery of the target language. Learners who are highly motivated progress faster and reach a higher level of knowledge than the less motivated. A less motivated learner, once the communication needs accomplished, would tend to stop learning the language before he reaches the quasi-native level of mastery. The aim of our study is to analyze the impact of age and gender on the learners' motivational attitudes and beliefs towards French in a secondary school in Flanders (Instituut van Gent). Firstly, we verify if the prestige of the French language has decreased in Flanders, as is sometimes claimed, and, if there is a decline of the language level, whether it can be linked either to internal factors of the French language or to the lack of motivation. We also analyze why young learners (12-18 years old) would be motivated to learn French and whether opinions towards French differ according to age and gender. In order to investigate these aspects, we created a questionnaire consisting of 50 items covering integrative and instrumental motivation features, which are closely linked to the learners' beliefs. Our results show that the observed decline in the prestige of French is mostly related to internal factors and not to motivation: e. g. young learners seem to believe that English is easier to understand than French. As far as motivation is concerned, we see a certain lack of integrative motivation, especially among boys who tend to have a slightly higher instrumental motivation. Secondly, young learners seem more motivated than older ones. These observations can be explained by the beliefs of boys that expanding friendship is less important than finding a good employment. Young learners, on the other hand, are mostly motivated to learn French because it allows them to travel, to expand the boundaries of their social setting and also to increase the chances of finding employment after college. In conclusion, this study demonstrates first of all, that the decline of knowledge of French seems to be related mainly to internal factors of French and not to the motivation of the learners. In addition, the boys have a higher instrumental motivation in comparison with the girls who are more motivated in an integrative manner. Finally, young learners are a little more motivated than elder ones.
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author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
published
subject
keyword
acquisition of foreign languages, French as a foreign language, instrumental motivation, integrative motivation, 2ND LANGUAGE-ACQUISITION, VARIABLES
in
INTED Proceedings
editor
LG Chova, AL Martinez and IC Torres
issue title
INTED2012 : international technology, education and development conference
pages
159 - 165
publisher
International Association for Technology, Education and Development (IATED)
place of publication
Burjassot, Spain
conference name
6th International Technology, Education and Development conference (INTED 2012)
conference location
Valencia, Spain
conference start
2012-03-05
conference end
2012-03-07
Web of Science type
Proceedings Paper
Web of Science id
000326396400018
ISSN
2340-1079
ISBN
9788461555635
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
P1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
2094488
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-2094488
date created
2012-04-25 15:41:18
date last changed
2014-12-12 12:28:54
@inproceedings{2094488,
  abstract     = {Motivation is one of the most important factors in the acquisition of a foreign language. A desire or a need felt by the learner is necessary to make efforts in order to achieve a certain goal. In the context of foreign language acquisition, the ultimate goal would be the perfect mastery of the target language. Learners who are highly motivated progress faster and reach a higher level of knowledge than the less motivated. A less motivated learner, once the communication needs accomplished, would tend to stop learning the language before he reaches the quasi-native level of mastery. 
The aim of our study is to analyze the impact of age and gender on the learners' motivational attitudes and beliefs towards French in a secondary school in Flanders (Instituut van Gent). Firstly, we verify if the prestige of the French language has decreased in Flanders, as is sometimes claimed, and, if there is a decline of the language level, whether it can be linked either to internal factors of the French language or to the lack of motivation. We also analyze why young learners (12-18 years old) would be motivated to learn French and whether opinions towards French differ according to age and gender. In order to investigate these aspects, we created a questionnaire consisting of 50 items covering integrative and instrumental motivation features, which are closely linked to the learners' beliefs. 
Our results show that the observed decline in the prestige of French is mostly related to internal factors and not to motivation: e. g. young learners seem to believe that English is easier to understand than French. As far as motivation is concerned, we see a certain lack of integrative motivation, especially among boys who tend to have a slightly higher instrumental motivation. Secondly, young learners seem more motivated than older ones. These observations can be explained by the beliefs of boys that expanding friendship is less important than finding a good employment. Young learners, on the other hand, are mostly motivated to learn French because it allows them to travel, to expand the boundaries of their social setting and also to increase the chances of finding employment after college. 
In conclusion, this study demonstrates first of all, that the decline of knowledge of French seems to be related mainly to internal factors of French and not to the motivation of the learners. In addition, the boys have a higher instrumental motivation in comparison with the girls who are more motivated in an integrative manner. Finally, young learners are a little more motivated than elder ones.},
  author       = {Ruyffelaert, Ariane and Hadermann, Pascale},
  booktitle    = {INTED Proceedings},
  editor       = {Chova, LG and Martinez, AL and Torres, IC},
  isbn         = {9788461555635},
  issn         = {2340-1079},
  keyword      = {acquisition of foreign languages,French as a foreign language,instrumental motivation,integrative motivation,2ND LANGUAGE-ACQUISITION,VARIABLES},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Valencia, Spain},
  pages        = {159--165},
  publisher    = {International Association for Technology, Education and Development (IATED)},
  title        = {The impact of age and gender on the learners' motivation and attitudes towards French in secondary education in Flanders},
  year         = {2012},
}

Chicago
Ruyffelaert, Ariane, and Pascale Hadermann. 2012. “The Impact of Age and Gender on the Learners’ Motivation and Attitudes Towards French in Secondary Education in Flanders.” In INTED Proceedings, ed. LG Chova, AL Martinez, and IC Torres, 159–165. Burjassot, Spain: International Association for Technology, Education and Development (IATED).
APA
Ruyffelaert, A., & Hadermann, P. (2012). The impact of age and gender on the learners’ motivation and attitudes towards French in secondary education in Flanders. In L. Chova, A. Martinez, & I. Torres (Eds.), INTED Proceedings (pp. 159–165). Presented at the 6th International Technology, Education and Development conference (INTED 2012), Burjassot, Spain: International Association for Technology, Education and Development (IATED).
Vancouver
1.
Ruyffelaert A, Hadermann P. The impact of age and gender on the learners’ motivation and attitudes towards French in secondary education in Flanders. In: Chova L, Martinez A, Torres I, editors. INTED Proceedings. Burjassot, Spain: International Association for Technology, Education and Development (IATED); 2012. p. 159–65.
MLA
Ruyffelaert, Ariane, and Pascale Hadermann. “The Impact of Age and Gender on the Learners’ Motivation and Attitudes Towards French in Secondary Education in Flanders.” INTED Proceedings. Ed. LG Chova, AL Martinez, & IC Torres. Burjassot, Spain: International Association for Technology, Education and Development (IATED), 2012. 159–165. Print.