A Way Of Increasing Motivation To Learn Language Education Essay

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CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) is a pedagogical project applied in foreign language learning and which has been globally approved because of its many advantages for creating a suitable environment for learning. However, while comprehension skills (reading and listening) are really boosted in a CLIL environment, this may not be the case of productive skills (speaking and writing). Students seem not to have enough chances to speak or initiate a conversation, affecting their speaking and writing outcomes negatively. Cooperative learning may help enhance CLIL contexts, improve comprehension skills and better reasoning, interaction and communication, as well as increase motivation. This paper will analyse how students' motivation in CLIL classes increases by implementing cooperative learning.

Researches proved that cooperative learning to be a highly effective instructional approach in education in general. Olsen and Kagan (1992) define cooperative learning "a body of literature and research" that has investigated the effects of cooperation in education and offers ways to organize group work to improve learning and increase academic achievement. Damon and Phelps (1989) state that cooperative learning is an umbrella term that describes a range of team-based learning approaches. The same common term "cooperative learning" includes different ways and methods of working together in structured teams, for the purpose of enhancing student's academic achievement and interpersonal relationships.

The birth of the term "cooperative learning", as it is known today, dates back to the 40s in the USA with Kurt Lewin and Morton Deutsch. However, it is not until the mid-60s and the 70s that interpersonal relationships among different ethnic groups start to regain importance, as part of the effort of fighting against discrimination and racial segregation in the USA. The USA is the country, then, where cooperative learning has been most widely undertaken. In Europe, only in some countries thorough studies on cooperative learning were conducted, namely in Italy by Lopriore (1999) and Spain by Lobato Fraile (1998), Rodríguez Tuñas and Morales Urgel (1998), Casal (2005), as well as in the Netherlands by Van Oudenhoven, Van Berkum and Swen-Koopmans (1987). Nevertheless, the effects of cooperation in education in Austria have been scarcely examined and thus will be investigated in this study both theoretically and empirically, and, which is more important, as mentioned above in CLIL contexts.

While providing a historical review of CL (cooperative learning) Slavin, Hurley, and Chamberlain (2003) present four theoretical perspectives on cooperative learning and achievement, namely Motivational, Social Cohesion, Cognitive Developmental, and Cognitive Elaboration Perspectives. They investigate where to locate motivation for learning behaviours, how to structure interactions among students, and how incentive and task structures impact forms of cooperative learning. The unified theoretical model, elaborated by the researchers, has more theoretical that practical value. Dörnyei (1997) investigates reasons for the success of CL from a psychological perspective, focusing on two interrelated processes: the unique group dynamics of CL classes and the motivational system generated by peer cooperation. He argued that the affective domain of CL plays a crucial role in the educational potential of the method. While the analysis concerns cooperatively structured learning only, it can explain the success of peer collaboration in general as well. Jacobs (1998) provides some potential advantages comparing the typical characteristics of groupwork with those of teacher-centred instruction. Together with the increase of the variety of speech, enjoyment, independence, social integration and learning, motivation can also be increased. According to Jacobs (1998) students will be less competitive when working in groups and are more likely to encourage each other, and therefore more motivated. Contrary to Jacobs Vähäpassi (2006) points out that if the groups (especially cooperative base groups) are competing against each other, the opportunity for whole society learning may be lost. Based on classic psychological research on how to reduce tensions between competing groups (e.g. Allport, 1954; Sherif, 1958; Pettigrew, 1998), Aronson (1977) claims that one of the major reasons for this problem is the competitive nature of the typical classroom, where students work on assignments individually. He developed and implemented therefore the jigsaw classroom technique, which transforms competitive classrooms in which many students are struggling into cooperative classrooms in which once-struggling students show dramatic academic and social improvements. The research in this area to date has tended to focus on the traditional classroom rather than cross-curriculum classroom.

There are several methods of organising the learning environment in cooperative classrooms. Such approaches as Leaning Together (Johnson D. Johnson R. 1981; Johnson D., Johnson R. & Holubec 1992), Structural Approach to CL (Kagan, 1994), Complex Instruction (Cohen, 1994) and Group Investigation (Sharan, 1994), represent various dimensions of CL models. There are certain similarities among them as well as differences and they all share the basic concepts of CL: positive interdependence, individual accountability and the importance of social skills. The differences occur in the areas of the autonomy of the learner, flexibility and teacher's role. At this point it should be stated that it is not just the implementation of CL in CLIL classroom, which is important to motivate to learn language, but the effective and properly designed groupwork method with all its significant principles, that should be appropriate for both students and teacher.

For the Johnsons (1981) each cooperative lesson should include five principles that make the cooperation work: positive interdependence, face-to-face promotive interaction, individual accountability, social skills, and group processing. They propose three types of CL procedures that should be used in an integrative way: formal CL, informal CL, and co-operative base groups. The Johnsons accept different kinds of groupings, so there is no such thing as only one principle in the forming of the group, which makes it, of course, a hard task for the teachers to apply. Kagan (1994), describing his Structural Approach to CL, found the structures, which are content-free ways of organising social interaction in the classroom, as an effective way for inservice training. He argues that it is not easy to teach teachers to use cooperative learning, but it is easier to train one structure, for instance, to learn a structure at a time, that is in small portions. A similar approach concerning the efficiency of structures can also be found in Sharan's Group Investigation (Sharan, 1994). Studies showed that compared to the students who studied with the whole class, the students from the Group Investigation classes revealed a large increase in their motivation to learn over the course of the year (Sharan & Shaulov, 1990). Though Structural Approach gives teachers an opportunity to be able to adopt the practical knowledge before theory, it has been criticised (e.g. Vähäpassi, 2006) for being too much like a "recipe book". Other theoretical and scientific approaches should be considered as more valuable.

Cohen's (1994) Complex Instruction sets high expectations for all students, not just the best ones and insists on groupwork without teacher intervening. However, Jacobs (1998) contradicts Cohen's delegation of the authority to the groups and accepts the intervention of the teacher, however, only when a group is experiencing obvious difficulty. Moreover, he mentions a number of possible roles for the teacher: modelling collaboration, observing the students' performance, etc. For Vähäpassi (2006) the teacher acts as a model, as a person who challenges the students' thinking. They are co-learners and therefore, are integral parts of the learning group. According to Jacobs (1998) also a teacher can function as a task participant, sitting with students to do the task, which could be quite problematic, since many students find it difficult to react to the teacher as a group member rather than as an instructor. Hertz-Lazarowitz and Shachar (1990) have found that during cooperative learning teachers' verbal behaviours were more helpful and encouraging for their students' efforts, while during whole-class instruction, their verbal behaviours tended to be more authoritarian, rigid, and impersonal. Also Gillies (2006) points out that teacher plays a critical role in promoting interactions between students and engaging them in the learning process. Teachers who implement cooperative learning play a critical role in promoting more positive helping interactions between students, while engaging them in the learning process. However, it is necessary to investigate how such an encouraging role of the teacher influences students' motivation to learn language, especially in CLIL contexts nowadays. Webb (2009) uncovered multiple dimensions of the teacher's role in fostering beneficial group dialogue, including preparing students for collaborative work, forming groups, structuring the group-work task, and influencing student interaction through teachers' discourse with small groups and with the class. But these dimensions deal more with the linguistic level in interaction and do not show psychological aspects of the group cooperation. It is also less known about how the teacher can foster effective groupwork behaviours, however, there are a number of some practical matters: such as students' orientation to the task, group composition or collaborative skills (Ellis, 2005), that teachers can use in order to encourage student cooperation in groupwork. Nevertheless, it should be noted, that there is little L2 research available that has directly addressed these issues. In addition, no research has been found that surveyed the role of teacher, who applied CL strategies, and how much his/her motivation and motivation of the students in CLIL classrooms actually has changed.

One of the most promising recent advances in the study of motivation from an applied perspective is the attention being paid to how teachers can motivate their students. Drawing on this research, Dörnyei (2001) proposes thirty-five strategies for the language classroom. These are divided into strategies for developing the basic motivational conditions (e.g. 'create a pleasant and supportive atmosphere in the classroom'), for generating initial motivation (e.g. 'increase the students' expectancy of success in particular tasks and in learning in general'), for maintaining and protecting motivation (e.g. 'make learning stimulating and enjoyable for the learners by enlisting them as active task participants') and for encouraging positive self-evaluation (e.g. 'offer rewards of a motivational nature'). Dörnyei (2001) emphasizes that although the efficacy of many of these strategies remains to be confirmed, 'here is no doubt that student motivation can be consciously increased by using creative techniques'. Cooperative learning methods are surely such techniques thanks to the student's active role in the learning construction. Cooperative work provides the students with more opportunities to use new concepts and terms, as compared with teacher-centred classes. Cohen (1994) states though that the choice of groupwork as a strategy depends on the aim that the teacher is going to achieve. Vähäpassi (2006) states that cooperation help the individuals learn better and students cooperate to construct their knowledge. Moreover, the success of CL requires interpersonal and small-group skills. Students must be taught social skills for high-quality co-operation and they must be motivated to use them. Leadership, decision-making, trust-building, communication, and conflict-management skills have to be taught along with academic skills. However, these researchers have mainly perceived CL as a valid means to improve students' results as well as to achieve socialisation, disregarding some possible disadvantages of the implementation of the cooperation as a learning strategy, especially in other than teacher-centred classrooms.

Ellis (2005) states that group work, being important to language acquisition, is not essential, and has some disadvantages. Taking into account theoretical arguments, he claims that engaging students in the 'progressive discourse' that arises out of cooperative attempt will foster acquisition. To achieve such discourse is a challenge, however. It depends in part on the choice of task and in part on ensuring that the conditions that make cooperation possible have been met. In addition, students are not always favourably disposed towards groupwork. Willing (1987) reports that the ESL learners among the activities liked 'pairwork and language games'the least. Nunan (1989) suggests that learners often tend to favour 'traditional' over 'communicative' activities, showing a preference for teacher-centred over learner-centred participatory structures. Further disadvantages are clear for Prabhu (1987), he claims that it is less likely that students can be exposed to the 'good models' of English needed to promote interlanguage development than if the pre-tasks were performed with the teacher. Thus according to this view, student-student interaction may result in pidginized use of the second language and interlanguage fossilization. Contrary to Jacobs' (1998) view that groupwork can help to reduce anxiety, Prabhu (1987) suggests that some students find it more humiliating to make mistakes in front of their peers than in front of the teacher. But perhaps this is an area where there are marked cultural differences. There is very little research that has addressed this issue. While exploring how CL influences opportunities for acquiring second language by learners, Jacob, Rottenberg, Patrick and Wheeler (1996) found out that various kinds of opportunities for the learner occurred relatively infrequently. Moreover, there were some missed opportunities and some negative input.

Research results have consistently shown that CL improves students' academic achievement as well as social interaction when carried out responsibly. However, there is little research work devoted to the usages of CL strategies in CLIL contexts. Pistorio's (2010) study presents an approach in which CL is used in a CLIL context to create socially constructed learning environment, which is, however, focused on the social and interaction issues rather than psychological conditions as, for instance, motivation. In addition, the results of this study need to be corroborated statistically.

In conclusion, though advantages and disadvantages of CL should be traced, the best CL types chosen, the role of the teacher appropriately defined as well as creative correspondent CL techniques precisely developed, the implementation of CL in CLIL has the potential to enhance motivation for language learning. The research is needed to identify peculiarities and positive aspects of CL in order to apply them in CLIL learning environment effectively, especially for improving speaking and writing skills. Such examination should also trace the changes in the motivation both among students and teachers, at the same time emphasizing how cooperation and exchange of ideas of learners increase motivation to learn language.