English Reading Proficiency

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Relationships between Students' Motivation and their English Reading Proficiency

English proficiency test

As discussed earlier, the present research took into consideration the scores of all the 15 questions on the reading proficiency test to investigate the relationship between students' L2 reading achievement and their motivation. The test indicated a mean score of 13.73, with 0 to 25 as the potential score range. The result of the statistical analysis is reported in Table 1.

Table 1: Statistical Analysis of the Test (N = 15)

Mean

Standard Deviation

Median

Mode

Range

13.73

5.23

16

10

18

a Multiple modes exist. The smallest value is shown

The present study confirms to some extent the assumption that students with non-English majors' have low proficiency in English than those majoring in English. It may be that the students may not have been capable of performing well on the reading test because of incongruence between the reading tasks practiced in class and the reading tasks on the test as it was a fast, authentic type text with less opportunity for students to verify their comprehension.

Correlations between Students' Motivation and their English Reading Proficiency

Along with the statistical analysis of the L2 reading proficiency test, a correlation analysis was conducted to investigate the relationship between the students' L2 reading achievement and motivation. The results are presented in Table 2.

Table 2

Reading Score

Motivation Score

Reading Score

Pearson Correlation

1

-.223

Sig. (2-tailed)

.425

N

15

15

Motivation Score

Pearson Correlation

-.223

1

Sig. (2-tailed)

.425

N

15

15

As shown in Table 2, the students' motivation is not only insignificantly but negatively correlated with their achievement in reading English. The more motivated students were towards learning English, the lower they scored on the reading proficiency test and students whohadlow motivation level had high reading achievement (r = -.223, p < 0.05). These findings contradict the previous studies (Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Gardner et al., 1985). Similar to earlier studies which were situated in SL context and which suggest a strong positive correlation between students' motivation and their L2 Proficiency (Gardner, 1985; Gardner et al., 1972; Gardner et al., 1985; Gardner et al., 1989), the present study though situated in SL context found a negative insignificant relationship between the said variables. This can be attributed to the fact that only one language skill i.e. students' L2 reading achievement was investigated here instead of L2 achievement in all the four skills.

Similarly, correlation analysis was carried out to examine the relationship between students' L2 reading achievement and their motivation orientation that is integrative or instrumental motivation. The results are presented in Table 3.

Table 3

Reading

Score

Integrative Orientation

Instrumental Orientation

Reading Score

Pearson Correlation

1

-.322

.029

Sig. (2-tailed)

.242

.918

N

15

15

15

Integrative Orientation

Pearson Correlation

-.322

1

.564(*)

Sig. (2-tailed)

.242

.029

N

15

15

15

Instrumental Orientation

Pearson Correlation

.029

.564(*)

1

Sig. (2-tailed)

.918

.029

N

15

15

15

The data shows that negative weak relationship exist between integrative orientation and reading achievement. Students having higher integrative motivation orientation have less L2 reading achievement (r = -.322, p < 0.05).

Moreover, positive weak correlation exists between instrumental orientation and reading achievement. The students who were found more instrumentally motivated to learn English scored higher on the L2 reading proficiency test (r = .029, p < 0.05). Although the relationship between instrumental orientation and L2 reading achievement was found positive, but it was insignificant. This result was not anticipated since it was hypothesized that students who are more instrumentally motivated would be more successful in their L2 reading. Therefore, considering Gardner's dichotomous factors, integrative and instrumental, as indicative of academic success, the findings of the present study are inconclusive. It can be said that these factors seem to be less significant with regard to L2 reading achievement. This is in line with Dörnyei's early study (1990).

Conclusions and recommendations

This study attempted to investigate the correlations between L2 reading achievement and L2 learning motivation, English-learning orientations of first-year undergraduate non-English major's students of a private university. The correlation analysis revealed that the students who were more positively motivated to learn English tended to score lower in the reading proficiency test and that the students who were more instrumentally motivated tended to perform slightly better in the L2 reading test. Nevertheless, the insignificant correlation of motivation and instrumental orientations with L2 reading achievement could be the result of lower L2 reading achievement. As previously assumed, adult learners with non-English majors' have low proficiency in English, this study confirms the assumption with regards to learners' L2 reading achievement.

Moreover, the absence of any significant relationship between reading proficiency and instrumental orientation requires further exploration. The reading proficiency test was a fast, authentic-type test and it differed from the regular classroom reading practice task which are usually slow-paced, and contextualized, with lots of opportunities for students to verify comprehension. A significant positive relationship between overall student achievement and motivation orientations might have been possible if the actual class marks were considered. Paired with the fact that these students were from non-English majors' background and the load of students' major study was much more, most of the students got limited opportunity to practice English language skills and/or they made very little effort in learning the language. Consequently, students' L2 reading proficiency was found to be low. In order to enhance students' motivation to learn second language and improve their L2 reading achievement, the university might look into the possibility of offering ESP courses at least for the first two years so that non-English majors' students could have greater opportunity to use the target language. Although Gardner at al. (1987) reported that integrative orientation played a significant role in allowing learners to learn the target language, this study emphasized the need for greater opportunities of practicing second language skills as most of the students might lose the motivation soon since they were found primarily instrumentally motivated to learn English.

Because the focus of this study was a private university which is a key national university of computer and emerging sciences in Pakistan, the findings may possibly have some relevance for first-year non-English majors in other similar ESL contexts within the country. However, conclusions drawn on the basis of results from this study are limited due to the nature of the sample which was confined to the students at only one university. In order to understand the generalizability of the results to other ESL students in different universities across the country, further research is needed with language learners from diverse backgrounds in different learning contexts.

With respect to non-English majors, students majoring in business management, international relations and information technology might exhibit a different dimension of orientation to learn a second language. Similarly, a gender study in this case may also add to the existing knowledge. In addition, qualitative research methods such as interviews, classroom observations and reflective journals can be employed along with quantitative data so that the differences in students' motivation can be explained.

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