Stimulating Students' Motivation in the EFL Classroom

 
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Volume (2) Issue (1)                                                                                               FEB 1, 2021

                                                                       Stimulating Students’ Motivation in the
                                                                       EFL Classroom
                                                                       Ibrahim Ahmed Abaker Abdelhamid
                                                                       University of Bahri, College of Languages, Sudan
                                                                       foja555@gmail.com

 Received 1st DEC 2020                               Accepted 15 th JAN 2021                                  Published 1 st FEB 2021

ABSTRACT                                                               activity. As defined by Ur (1991), “motivated learner" as one
                                                                       who is willing or even eager to invest effort in learning
This study aimed to explore Sudanese EFL undergraduate
                                                                       activities and to progress.
students’ level and kinds of motivation towards learning
                                                                       Therefore, teachers’ skills in motivating and convincing
English as a Foreign Language. Simple random sampling
                                                                       learners should be a priority for teachers of students in any age
technique was used to select (25) firs-year students drawn
                                                                       group and at all levels of language proficiency. Indeed,
exclusively from the English Language Department, at College
                                                                       research has shown that for many teachers problems about
of Languages, in University of Bahri. A questionnaire was used
                                                                       motivating students are the second most serious source of
as a tool for data collection. The data was then analysed using
                                                                       difficulty (after maintaining classroom discipline), preceding
statistical package for social science (SPSS). The researcher
                                                                       other obviously important issues such as the effective use of
adopted the descriptive analytical method to interpret the
                                                                       different teaching methods or a knowledge of the subject
data obtained from the above mentioned instrument. The
                                                                       matter (Genc, 2009). Teachers apply all the motivation
findings revealed that most of Sudanese EFL students have
                                                                       theories and strategies to help their students stay motivated
extrinsic orientation towards English language learning.
                                                                       when learning English, but they and their students simply go
Therefore, the study recommended that EFL teachers should
                                                                       through motions. They discover that students still reluctant,
incorporate authentic teaching materials and content into
                                                                       lethargic or uncooperative.
their lecture plans to supplement and enhance textbook units
                                                                       This study attempts to explore Sudanese EFL undergraduate
and topics to encourage internal motivation in students and
                                                                       students’ motivation for learning English as a Foreign
help them achieve their goals.
                                                                       Language. The purpose is to increase their awareness of the
INTRODUCTION                                                           influence of motivation on their language achievement, and
When learning a foreign language motivation is at least as             suggest ways that help teachers design activities lead their
important as ability. Several studies consider motivation as a         students to formulate positive ideas in their heads and
key element that affects the success of the language learner.          therefore help them be aware of what they need to maintain
(Fidaui,Bahous, and Bacha 2010; Gilmore 2011). Motivation              their own motivation when learning English.
has a significant role to direct the students' behavior in a           LITERATURE REVIEW
learning activity. According to Brophy (2010), motivation to
                                                                       Concept of motivation
learn exists when a student engages purposefully in an activity
                                                                       Motivation as a term is derived from the Latin verb ‘movere’
by adopting its goal and trying to learn the concepts or master
                                                                       which means ‘to move’ in English. So, motivation is what
the skills it develops. Students' motivation can be aroused by
                                                                       moves you to take action. In his research, Walker (2011) states
understanding the goal and the concept of learning activity.
                                                                       that motivation is the element that moves humans to decide
Motivated students will give more efforts in their learning
                                                                       taking certain choices to be engaged and to be able to continue

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a behaviour. In psychology, the term ‘motivation’ means the                 4.    They learn English because they have it for work.
forces that affect people’s behaviours or the reasons of those              5.    They learn English because they want to speak to
behaviours. Therefore, motivation can be defined as a                             people in other countries.
psychological quality that leads people to achieve a goal. For                6. They learn English because they enjoy achieving
language learners, mastery of a language may be a goal.                           goals.
Types of motivation                                                     It is important to have student thinking about what they want
EFL Teachers understand that motivation is the commonest                to do with English so as to maintain their own motivation
factor that influences students’ proficiency in English;                The importance of having goals
student’s enthusiasm, commitment and persistence are key                Actually, motivation is concerned with goal-directed behaviour
determinants in language learning. Researchers distinguish              that makes people to do particular behaviours and not others.
between two kinds of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic, and           If the reason is to understand TV in English, then it is necessary
understanding how both of these kinds work will help teachers           to have a plan for how to accomplish this goal. For example:
create better learning strategies for students.                         For example, what can students do today, this week, or this
According to Williams and Burden (1997), intrinsic motivation           month that can help them understand TV in English. So it is
is doing something with interest and enjoyment and the                  important to think about behaviour (short- term goals) when
reason for performing the activity lies within the activity. A          you can also think about targets (long-term goals). To keep
student who is intrinsically motivated gets a sense of                  their motivation going, students need long-term goal and
satisfaction from learning English and improving their band             short-term goal as well. Research suggests that short-term
score. Although the result of their hard work is important, it          goals people do find easy to be motivated by because they
isn’t what motivates them most. Their primary motivation is             enable them to notice their progress and motivate them
the enjoyment of learning English and the sense of progress             towards their long-term goals. Therefore, setting achievable
Extrinsic motivation on the other hand, indicates a desire to           short- term goals is necessary to help students stay motivated
learn in order to reach an external goal (e.g., money, grades, a        when learning English. E.g. What sort of goals could the
better job). A student who is extrinsically motivated works             student achieve in a day, week or month.
hard, even if they don’t enjoy learning English. This is because        The importance of doing activities you enjoy
they know they have to improve to get what they want,                   Richard Bartle (1956) created taxonomy on how to make
whether that’s to study at university, get a better job or              computer games enjoyable. According to the taxonomy there
immigrate to an English-speaking country. It is a means to an           are essentially four kinds of computer game players:
end and not for the sake of doing the activity itself.                       1. There people who enjoy competitions.
Stages of building students’ motivation                                      2. There people who enjoy achieving goals.
We frequently establish that motivation is fundamental for                   3. There people who enjoy communicating with other
learning a foreign language, but still most of EFL teachers find                 people.
it challenging to build students’ motivation. Therefore, in this             4. There people who enjoy exploring.
study we will suggest four different elements that teachers             This is a useful way of thinking about enjoyable activities
need to take into consideration to spark intrinsic motivation           because teachers can adopt this taxonomy and turn it into
for their students when learning a foreign language. These              language learning activities. There are a lot of activities that we
elements are: (1) understanding why you learning a language,            can use to focus on each category:
(2) the importance of having goals, (3) the importance of doing
activities you enjoy, (4) the importance of noticing success.
Understanding why you learning a language
Based on Gorman (2004), when a director gives an actor
instructions to act in a specific way, the actor’s response may
be, ‘What is my motivation?’ because being aware of the
reason for doing an action is essential in order to be able to
perform it properly. The student also needs a reason to carry
on doing his/her studies. There are six reasons why students
often learning English:
     1. They learn English because they like learning new
         things.
     2. They learn English because their teacher makes them.
     3. They learn English because they like being better than
         other students in the class.

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    Competition                                      Goals
    -       speak for the longest (e.g. fluency      -       tots of short term goals (check list)
    based activities)                                -       choose small collectable rewards (e.g. give
    -       get the most correct answers             student a gold star)
    -       quiz your English                        -       tell other students what have you achieved

    Communication                                    Exploration
    -     Social media in English                    -        Studying other countries culture
    -     Internet forums                            -        Language puzzles games
    -     Making friends in other countries          -        Share knowledge

The importance of noticing success
When we learning a language there is a cycle; we use English, we reflect on how well we did in learning English, and
then if we reflect in the right way this increases our confidence and motivation.“We do things best if we expect to
succeed.” if students are confident and motivated their English will improve as a result. So it becomes as a loop; use
English well, reflect well, you increase your confidence and motivation, you do better.

                       Use English                                     Notice what
                                                                       you did well           1
                                                                                              1
                                                                                              2
                                                                        Notice if you         2
                                                                       achieved goals
                                                                                              2
                                                                                              1

        Confidence &                 Reflect
         motivation
                                                                         Choose new
                                                                            goals              3

Students often focus on the areas that cause difficulties for                   2.      What types of motivation do Sudanese EFL
them, and this decreases their persistency to carry on. The                             undergraduate students have towards learning
secret is in how students do the stage of reflection. They need                         English as a Foreign Language?
a transformative way of thinking that improves their
motivation and their English. They should start by what they              Objectives of the Study
did well, and then notice if they achieved their goals (e.g.              This study attempts to
short-term goal), next they think about an area they want to                   1. Justify why motivation is an essential part of EFL
improve; choose a new goal from your short-term goals list.                        teachers planning for student learning success in the
Thus, understanding this cycle is quite fundamental when it                        classroom.
comes to learning a language.                                                  2. Suggest different strategies for fostering and
Research Questions                                                                 maintaining motivation in EFL classroom.
To guide the study, the following research                                METHODOLOGY
questions were raised:
    1. To what extent do Sudanese EFL students                            Participants of the Study
        undergraduate students have motivation towards                    This study is concerned with first-year students in English
        learning English as a Foreign Language?                           Language Department at University Bahri in the academic year

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2019 -2020. Twenty-five (25) of them were randomly chosen.               questionnaire is reliable tool to measure the construct
The students involved in this investigation are in the age group         consistently.
of 17 to 20 years old. They came from governmental schools.              A simple random sampling was adopted to select the study
They share roughly the same educational background. Each                 subjects from the targeted population. This method of
student had completed seven years of English study prior to              sampling is suitable for this study, since each one of the
entering university. The English curriculum was SPINE series             population has a chance to be chosen as a subject of the study.
written by Sudanese teachers and experts but they had very               Also, this method of sampling avails the researcher of the
few opportunities to practice and speak English outside the              opportunity to collect data about students’ level of motivation
four walls of the classroom. Arabic is their mother tongue and           for learning English as a Foreign Language without knowing
English is their foreign language.                                       their level of English Language. There have been (30) students
                                                                         which represent approximately (40%) percent of the total
MATERIALS AND METHOD
                                                                         number. Evidently all students agreed willingly to participate
There is a wide agreement among researchers that the rock                in answering the study questionnaires, so as to disclose their
bed of any research work is the tool used for collecting data            motivation toward learning English as a Foreign Language.
(Dörnyei, 2011). Therefore, this study uses a self-report                After distributing the questionnaire to the subjects, the
questionnaire as a main instrument for collecting data                   researcher took ample time explaining the difficult items in
concerning the study topic. The questionnaire was comprised              questionnaire and responded to every inquiry made by the
of three variables to which the participants responded on a              subjects. The researcher requested the students to give their
five-point scale (from strongly agree to strongly disagree). The         immediate reactions towards the questionnaire items. He
first variable consists of (10) items which reflects on overall          reassured the subjects that their responses were not going to
students’ motivation for learning English. The second and third          be looked upon as right or wrong. On contrary, every response
variables consist of (4) items each which gather information             was going to be of value to the study, since was their true
about particular reasons the students were studying the                  feelings that were going to matter, regarding learning English
language (intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation). The purpose of         language. The researcher adopts the descriptive analytical
the questionnaire was to gather information about the                    method to interpret the data obtained from the above-
student's motivation for learning English as a Foreign                   mentioned instrument.
Language. In order to ensure the validity of the questionnaire,
                                                                         RESULTS
the instruments were shown to a panel of four university
professors. The final form of the instrument was drawn out               Test General Motivation
after taking their comments, opinions and advices into                   There were ten statements in this variable to measure the
consideration. Cronbach’s alpha reliability was computed for             students’ general motivation towards learning English as a
the questionnaire which revealed that the tools are stable (α =          foreign language. The following table summarizes the result
0.868 and α = 0.764 respectively). This revealed the                     achieved:

                             Table (1) descriptive data of students’ general motivation

No       Statement                                                                  Mean       SD       p-value

1        I actively review what I have learnt in English classes.                   2.4        2.5             0.000
2        English will be useful if I travel abroad.                                 2.7        0.8             0.000
3        I find English courses interesting.                                        2.3        0.7             0.006

4        Learning English makes me knowledgeable.                                   2.5        3.8             0.046
5        Learning English is my own decision.                                       2.4        2.5             0.000
6        I learn English because my classmates are better at English.               2.8        1.7             0.000
7        My parents will be proud if I can learn English well.                      2.9        4.8             0.000
8        I will try my best to learn English.                                       2.6        0.5             0.000
9        Learning English is to pass exams.                                         2.9        0.7             0.023
10       I think that English learning is helpful for my future.                    2.6        0.5             0.036

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Table (1) shows the statements measuring students’ general motivation towards learning English as a foreign
language. As it can be noticed from the above table, the results indicate that the top six most endorsed items are
items 2, 6, 7, 8 and 9 (M=2.7, 2.8, 2.9, and 2.9 respectively) and their patterns are consistent over all the dataset(S
D=2.8, 1.7, 4.8,and 0.7 respectively). This means that most of the participants want to learn English to pass exam
and make their parents proud of them. Also, English is useful for future travelling. They will try their best to learn
English well. Their views show extrinsic reasons for learning English.
However, the least endorsed items are items 1, 3, 4, 5 and 8 (M=2.4, 2.3, 2.5, 2.4 and 2.6),although these participants
seem to disagree with each other (SD=2.5, 0.7, 3.8, 2.5 and 0.5). This indicates that most of the participants believed
that learning English is not interesting, and it is not their own decision.

                Table (2): Overall result of participants' response distributions on general motivation

                                  Observed N                  Expected N                 Residual
      Has motivation              19                          12.5                       6.5
      Has no motivation           6                           12.5                       -6.5
      Total                       25

                                            Table (3): Chi-square test values

                            Chi-square         df                      Asymp. Sig
                            6.76               1                       .009
Table 2 and 3 show the percentages and frequencies of the subjects who have motivation for learning English as a
foreign language, which is 19 representing 76% with the expected N. 12.5 and residual 6.5. Those who have no
motivation are only 6 students making 24% of the total number with expected N. -6.5 with chi-square values of 6.76
at df 1 and the level of significance as .009, meaning the subjects have strong desire to learn English language.
Types of Motivation
This section sheds light on the types of motivation students feel in learning English as a foreign language. The tables
and figures below show the analysis of data collected pertaining to motivation.

                              Table (4) descriptive data of students’ intrinsic motivation

a.         Intrinsic Motivation
     No.   Statement                                                                  mean      SD        p-value
     11    I’m learning English because I like learning new things.                   2.2       0.9           0.000

     12    I’m learning English because I like being better than other students in    2.3       0.5           0.000
           the class.
     13    I’m learning English because I want to speak to people abroad.             2.3       0.7           0.000
     14    I’m learning English because I enjoy achieving goals.                      2.2       0.6           0.000
According to Table 4 item 11, 14, 12, and 13 are the least endorsed items are items (M=2.2, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.3
respectively) and their patterns are (SD=0.9, 0.6, 0.5, and 0.7 respectively). This indicates that the majority of the
participants consider English learning as a means to an end and not for the sake of the language in itself.

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               Table (5) Overall result of participants' response distributions on intrinsic motivation

                                             Observed N                Expected N            Residual
     Has intrinsic motivation                5                         12.5                  7.5
     Has no intrinsic motivation             20                        12.5                  -7.5
     Total                                   25

                                             Table (6) Chi-square test values

                                    Chi-square          df           Asymp. Sig
                                    9.000               1            .003
According to Table (4) and Figure (2), only 5 respondents with expected N. 12.5 and residual 7.5 have intrinsic
motivation for learning English as a foreign language, while 20 respondents do not have intrinsic motivation with
expected N. 12.5 and residual -7.5. The first group which has no intrinsic motivation represents 20% while the second
group represents 80% of the total participants with chi-square value of 9.000 at df 1 and the level of significance at
.003. This means that students’ desire to learn English for itself is less than their desire to learn it for so as to be used
as an instrument.

                              Table (7) descriptive data of students’ extrinsic motivation

b.        Extrinsic Motivation
    No.       Statement                                                             mean      SD     p-value
    15        Studying English helps me study abroad.                               2.9       0.7         0.000
    16        Studying English helps me watch TV in English.                        2.4       0.5         0.000
    17        Studying English helps me follow people on social media.              2.8       1.7         0.000
    18        Studying English helps me make friends in other cultures.             2.9       0.7          0.00
Table 5 results indicate that the top three most endorsed items are items 17, 18, and15 (M=2.9, 2.9, and 2.8
respectively) and their patterns are consistent over all the dataset (SD=0. 7, 0.7, and 1.7 respectively). This
demonstrates that the majority of the respondents learn English not for its own sake, but to reach an external goal
(e.g. studying abroad, making friends in other cultures, following people on social media… etc).

               Table (8) Overall result of participants' response distributions on extrinsic motivation

                                                        Observed N       Expected N         Residual
                      Has extrinsic motivation          22               12.5               9.5
                      Has no extrinsic motivation       3                12.5               -9.5
                      Total                             25

                                             Table (9) Chi-square test values

                                     Chi-square           Df         Asymp. Sig
                                     14.440               1          000

Table (6) and Figure (3), shows that there are 22 participants
                                                                            DISCUSSION
with 88% have extrinsic motivation toward learning English as
a foreign language and those who have no extrinsic motivation               Considering the achieved results, the following section
are only 3 from the total subjects of 25 representing 12% with              attempts to summarise and draw conclusions to this
chi-square value of 14.440 and df 1 at level of significance 000.           investigation. The first research question was intended to
These values confirm that participants are extrinsically                    explore students’ level of motivation toward learning English
motivated to learn English as a foreign language                            as a foreign language. As can be seen from Table 2, 76% of the
                                                                            students do have motivation towards English learning. The
                                                                            result showed that the majority of the participants learn

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English to pass the exam’ and ‘study abroad.’ (SD=0.7). This                         heads and therefore help persist and maintain their
may indicate that Sudanese EFL undergraduate students tend                           own motivation when learning English.
to have stronger compliance with the current decisive role of                   2.   EFL teachers should incorporate authentic teaching
English in Sudanese education contexts (i.e. passing exams)                          materials and content into their lecture plans to
and, in their mind, English learning seems to be more closely                        supplement and enhance textbook units and topics to
linked to becoming a learned person.                                                 encourage internal motivation in students.
The second research question was intended to explore the                        3.   EFL teachers should encourage students to reflect on
kinds of motivation studentshave toward learning English as a                        their own learning and focus on their language to help
foreign language. Looking into research findings presented in                        them reach their goals.
Table 3&5, most of the participants 88% are extrinsically                       4.   EFL students should set clear and achievable short-
motivated towards English learning – they need the language                          term goals to inspire hem pursue their personal
to pass an exam, study abroad, or even to talk to people on                          interest while learning English language.
social media. The majority of the participants rejected the
statement “I’m learning English because I like learning new
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CONCLUSION
                                                                                materials. Language Learning 61 (3): 786-819.
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student motivation to academic success. Hence, the present                      Routledge 27 Church Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 2FA.
paper is an exploratory research on first-year Sudanese EFL                 Rubenfeld, S., Sinclair, L. and Clement, R. 2007. Second
students at University of Bahri – Sudan which aims at                           language learning and acculturation: The role of motivation
examining students’ level and kinds of motivation towards                       and goal content congruence. Canadian Journal of Applied
learning English as a foreign language. The main conclusion                     Linguistics 10 (3): 308-322.
emerging from this study is that the majority of the students               Ur 1991. UrA Course in Language Teaching: practice and
have extrinsic orientation towards English language learning.                   theory. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.
They study English not for its own sake but to reach an external            Walker, C. 2011. Managing student motivation through
goal. This implies that teachers should be aware of the                         teaching performance. UK: Birmingham University Press, 3-
instructional methods and activities that they use inside EFL                   5.
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RECOMMENDATIONS
    1.   EFL teachers should design classroom activities that
         lead their students to formulate positive ideas in their

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