Attitude influences the way in which an individual behaves towards an object, institution, or a person. Our attitude towards a particular object may be influenced by our parents, school, teachers and society in which as an individual we live. According to Thurton (1929) "attitude may also be defined as the sum total of man's inclination, feelings, threats and conviction about any specific topic. " Karlinger (1973) holds that "attitude is an integral part of personality to think, to feel, and perceive to behave towards a referent and cognitive object."
Attitude is very important as it decides the behavior pattern of a person. Attitudes can be implicit and explicit. Implicit attitudes are unconscious, but still have an effect on our beliefs and behaviors. Explicit attitudes are those about which we are consciously aware of and they clearly influence our behaviors and beliefs. In the opinion of Bain (1927), "an attitude is the relatively overt behavior of a person which affects his status. " Jung (1921) defines attitude as "a readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way."
Components of Attitude
Harrison (1976) has identified three components in attitude as under:
Beliefs are what one considers desirable and undesirable.
Attitudes are accompanied by emotions and influence each other.
The individual displays his attitude through his action (behavior).
However, Wenden (1991) proposed a broader definition of the concept attitude. He has introduced these terms with a little change, although the theme is almost the same. He says that the term attitude includes three components as
Cognitive component is made up of the beliefs and ideas or opinions about the object of the attitude. Rosenberg and Hovland (1969) suggest that cognitions include perceptions, concepts, and beliefs about the attitude object and these are usually expressed by verbal questions. Ajzen (1988) categorizes cognitive components into verbal and non-verbal responses. Cognitive responses of a verbal nature are expressions of beliefs about an attitude object. According to him, cognitive responses of a nonverbal kind are more difficult to assess, and the information they provide about attitudes is usually more indirect. Baker (1992) believes that the cognitive component involves thoughts and beliefs.
Affective component refers to the feelings and emotions that one has towards an object, likes or dislikes, with or against. Ajzen (1988) believes that affective responses involve evaluations of, and feelings towards, the attitude object. Verbal affective responses can be expressions of admiration or disgust, appreciation or disdain. On the other hand, facial expressions and other bodily reactions are assumed to show nonverbal affective responses. Baker (1992) suggests that the affective component concerns feelings towards the target language, which may be love or hate of the language, a passion for the poetry of the target language, or an anxiety about learning it. Also, Hermann-Brennecke (2000) defines the affective component as a feeling-based evaluative component.
The behavioral component refers to one's consisting actions or behavioral intentions towards the object. Rosenberg and Hovland (1969) evaluate the behavioral component towards a situation with regard to a person's overt actions or verbal statements concerning behavior. These components of attitude consist of a tendency of an individual to behave in a particular way towards and object. Only this component of attitude is visible as the other two can only be inferred.
Kinds of Attitude
There are three kinds of attitude;
Positive Attitude is a kind of attitude that people are likely to act consistently with.
Negative Attitude is a kind of attitude where people act inconsistently with.
Neutral Attitude refers to a situation where people feel themselves reluctant to take any definite decision and find it difficult to make a choice either to go with something or not.
With respect to positive attitude, people may become respective to the said attitude and tend to understand every situation which corresponds to it. On the other hand, with a negative attitude a person's act will not be consistent due to the distortion he wanted to accomplish.
Attitudes may be learned from the experiences we have. These include mostly mundane events such as being praised by our parents for expounding "liberal" attitudes, but also major life and world events. Â The basic processes through which we learn attitudes remain the same throughout life, though as we grow older the attitudes we learn may be more complex, and the ones we already hold may become more resistant to change. Attitudes are learned from our experience of the social context around us.
Research has indicated that there are several ways in which attitudes are acquired. One of the earliest agents of attitude formation is parents. Later on world experience, interaction with the outer world plays a significance role in the formation of attitude. Some of the psychological factors which play a vital role in attitude formation are discussed below:
It involves voluntary responses. It is usually involve with the behavioral component of attitude. Behaviors tend to be repeated if they are reinforced. Similarly behaviors tend to be stopped when they are punished.
The adoption of attitudes is directly told by the parents, schools, community, friends, as well as the impact of religion etc.
It is based on modeling and observation. We observe others, if they are rewarded and receive appreciation for certain behaviors, we are reinforced and it is more likely, that we behave in the way to express this attitude.
It involves the careful weighing of evidence for, and against, a particular attitude. In other words it involves the careful observation of the evidence in order to take the right decision.
Language attitudes are the feelings people have about their own language or the languages of others (Crystal, 1992). Language attitude is different from other general attitudes in the sense that they are specifically about language. It is normally considered that language attitudes are related to the language itself, its variety, its sound system, its semantic quality so on and so forth. In fact, the term language attitude is applied by sociolinguists today, includes the outlook and our affiliation towards the speakers of a particular languages.
Fasold (1984) suggests that attitudes towards a language are often a reflection of attitudes towards members of various ethnic groups. " Language attitudes are changing all the time because the economic situation of a country may change, for the better or the worse, and so produce a different language attitude among its speakers or potential speakers. The same changing language attitude goes for the choice of a foreign language where the "niche" and the "needs" determine the language status. In this respect, Calvet (2006) states:
Human beings are not always able to choose their languages, their choice is determined first and foremost by the milieu in which they find themselves, by the languages that coexist in this niche and then by their needs, and very little by the typological situation other coexisting languages.
Second Language-Learning Strategies
All language learners use language learning strategies either consciously or unconsciously when processing new information and performing tasks in the language classroom. Since language classroom is like a problem-solving environment in which language learners are likely to face new input and difficult tasks given by their instructors, learners' attempts to find the quickest or easiest way to do what is required, that is, using language learning strategies is inescapable.
The term language learning strategy has been defined by many researchers. Wenden and Rubin (1987) define learning strategies as "any sets of operations, steps, plans, routines used by the learner to facilitate the obtaining, storage, retrieval, and use of information. " Richards and Platt (1992) state that learning strategies are "intentional behavior and thoughts used by learners during learning so as to better help them understand, learn, or remember new information. " Faerch Claus and Casper (1983) stress that a learning strategy is "an attempt to develop linguistic and sociolinguistic competence in the target language."
Classification of Language Learning Strategies by O'Malley
O'Malley (1985) divides language learning strategies into three main subcategories
It can be stated that metacognitive is a term to express executive function, strategies which require planning for learning, thinking about the learning process as it is taking place, monitoring of one's production or comprehension, and evaluating learning after an activity is completed. Among the main metacognitive strategies, it is possible to include advance organizers, directed attention, selective attention, self-management, functional planning, self-monitoring, delayed production, self-evaluation.
Cognitive strategies are more limited to specific learning tasks and they involve more direct manipulation of the learning material itself. Repetition, resourcing, translation, grouping, note taking, deduction, recombination, imagery, auditory representation, key word, contextualization, elaboration, transfer, inference are among the most important cognitive strategies.
As to the socio affective strategies, it can be stated that they are related with social-mediating activity and transacting with others. Cooperation and question for clarification are the main socioaffective strategies (Brown 1987).
Attitude and Motivation in L2 Learning
In the field of language attitudes, the term attitude and motivation are closely connected and related (Gardner, 1985). He believes that languages "involve the acquisition of skills or behavior patterns which are characteristic of another cultural community. He discusses that the relative degree of success in second language acquisition depends, to a certain extent, on the individual's attitude towards the other community as well as the beliefs in the community, which are relevant to the language learning process. He believes that the acquisition of a second language is a long and tough task so that any concept of motivation must include in it an attitudinal foundation to sustain the motivation. He proposes that attitudes play a role in language learning through their influence on motivation. Educators accept that students have individual learning styles and vary in their attitudes towards learning in general (Deci, Flaste 1995).
Two major clusters of motivation have been introduced by Gardner and Lambert (1972).
When students want to learn a language to become part of a speech community (integrate). People who immigrate to new countries are some examples of people who may want to identify with the community around them. An important aspect of this form of language learning is using language for social interaction. This form of motivation is thought to produce success in language learners.
Learners may make efforts to learn an L2 for some functional reason; to pass the examination to get a better job, or to get a place at university. In some learner context an instrumental motivation seems to be the major force determining success in L2 learning. For example, in settings where students are motivated to learn an L2 because it opens the educational and economic opportunities for them (Ellis, 1997).
. Starks & Paltridge (1996) mention that learning a language is closely related to the attitudes towards the language. Karahan (2007) suggests that "positive language attitude let learner have positive orientation towards learning English. " As such, attitudes may play a very crucial role in language learning as they would appear to influence student's success directly.
Ellis (2000) mentions that positive attitudes towards the L2 and its speakers can be expected to enhance learning while negative attitudes impede it. So, attitudes have an impact on the level of L2 proficiency achieved by individual learners. The learners with positive attitudes, who experience success, will have these attitudes reinforced. Similarly, learners' negative attitude may be strengthened by lack of success.
Holmes (1992) states that " people develop attitudes towards languages which reflect their views about those who speak the languages, and the contexts and functions with which they are associated. " Hermann-Brennecke (2000) points out the relationship between language and attitude "language does not consist only of forms, patterns and rules but is simultaneously bound up with the social, subjective and objective world, since it also carries the attitudes, habits and cultural characteristics of its speakers."
The Status of English in Pakistan
In Pakistani community where different languages co-exist, language attitudes play an important role in the lives of the users of these languages. Today there are more non-native than native users of English and English has become a world language. English language enjoys a high status in Pakistan as it is the language of education, law, science, technology, Government and a lingua franca among the provinces. It has become a status symbol, a refine medium of communication.
English in Pakistan is used as an official and a second language. It is spoken and used by a relatively small but extremely influential portion of country's population in the domain of government administration, law, the military, the higher education, commerce and mass media (Baumgardner 1993).
According to Ghani (2003) English in Pakistan serves as a gateway to success, to further education and to white collar jobs. It is the language of higher education and wider education and not the home language of the population except in the upper strata of society where it is spoken as a status symbol. Socially, English adopted as a second language has had a significant impact both economically and educationally. It continues to play an important role in the country's commercial and industrial development and outside the government sector.
Attitude of Pakistani Students towards Learning English
Language policies have frequently failed in Pakistan where students' attitudes to English language learning and use are mainly neglected. It is, therefore, important to study attitudes of students because if the learners have unfavorable attitudes to a target language, 'language policy implementation is unlikely to be successful
Shahid Siddiqui (2007) discusses the present scenario in Pakistan and states that every student up to Intermediate level has to study English as compulsory subject. He further states that there are a large number of students who question the very existence of English as a compulsory subject. He claims that most of the students who belong to the rural background are not motivated to learn English.
In Many cases the parents are not educated and cannot appreciate the purpose of learning English. As a result the students feel that English is perhaps the 'privilege of the elitist class and only the bright students can acquire it. There is a small group of students who realize the importance of English as it is a passport to employment. Most of the students are willing to learn English just to get degrees instead of attempting to learn the language skills. As a result, they spend most of their time in rote memorization which is considered the best way of passing the examination.
Rahman (1999), in his survey of students' attitudes towards learning English has found that almost all the students, including the 'deeni madrassahs' want to learn English. However, it seems that the reason for learning English is instrumental for them.
Factors Affecting Attitude towards Learning English
There are certain factors which can be attributed as to affect the attitude of students towards learning English.
Role of Parents.
Parents play an important role in the education of their children. Their involvement and encouragement can help a child excel. Alberta Education encourages parents to take an active role in the education of their children and provides resources to support their involvement.
Parents are the major socialization agents who play a vital role in shaping children's attitudes towards ethnic groups and language learning. Parents can also be actively involved in the learning process and promote success by encouraging children to study the foreign language, monitor their performance, correct mistakes, etc. On the other hand, if the parents are not literate in the second language, their children remain deprived in terms of the availability of interaction in a second language at home.
Role of Personality Traits in L2 Learning.
Personality is considered a very important category of individual differences since the individual is often judged depending on her/his personality. It has been frequently observed that different learners attain highly different levels of L2 proficiency even though the circumstances in which these learners acquire a target language are almost identical. This inter individual variation can be accounted for by learner-internal factors.
Extroversion and introversion are personality characteristics that can influence language learning in a positive or negative way depending on the measured aspect. It is believed that extroverts, who are sociable and open to other people, are more successful in learning languages than introverts, because they have more contact with L2. On the other hand, well-organized and serious introverts are seen as better learners as far as the systematic study is concerned.
Krashen (1985) maintained that anxiety inhibits the learner's ability to process incoming language. An interaction is often found among anxiety, task difficulty, and ability, which interferes at the input, processing, retrieval, and at the output level. If anxiety impairs cognitive function, students who are anxious may learn less and also may not be able to demonstrate what they have learned. Therefore, they may experience even more failure, which in turn raise their anexity level.
Age has often been considered a major, if not the primary, factor determining success in learning a second or foreign language. Children are generally considered capable of acquiring a new language rapidly and with little effort, whereas adults are believed to be doomed to failure. Although older learners are indeed less likely than young children to master an L2, a close examination of studies relating age to language acquisition reveals that age differences reflect differences in the situation of learning rather than in capacity to learn. They do not demonstrate any constraint on the possibility that adults can become highly proficient, even native like, speakers of L2 (TODD, Marshall 2000).
Degree of Instrumentality vs. Integration.
It is supposed that the degree of instrumentality is also a an important factor whicvh effect the process of L2 learning. When the learners are motivated to learn a second language for utilitarian purpose i.e, to get a good job the level of success is supposed to be higher as compared to those who learn a second language for integrative purpose.
According to Gardner and Lambart (1972 ) when a language is learnt for utilitarian purpose , the success in second language is supposed to be lower than if it is learnt for the integrative purpose but Meenakshi Verma states that this claim seems to be doubtful as the instrumentally motivated students are effectively learning English. The reason seems to be that the instrumental motivation works as a force to get a good job.
Role of Teacher in L2 Learning.
The role of teacher in affecting the attitudes of students cannot be falsified. A teacher plays a vital role for the students. He can serve as a facilitator, a guide, a fellow traveler, an advisor etc. If a teacher does not provide sufficient exposure to the target language, does not motivate the students, or does not provide them an opportunity to communicate, such teacher proves himself a threat for students. In such circumstances, if the student is asked to interact, the threat of teacher may hinder students' progress.
As Dornyei (2001) notes, 'teacher skills in motivating learners should be seen as central to teaching effectiveness'. Students need both ample opportunities to learn and steady encouragement and support of their learning efforts. Because such motivation is unlikely to develop in a chaotic classroom, it is important that the teacher organize and manage the classroom as an effective learning environment. Furthermore, because anxious students are unlikely to develop motivation to learn, it is important that learning occurs within a relaxed and supportive atmosphere (Good and Brophy, 1994).
In short, attitude is "the sum total of a man's instinctions and feelings, prejudice or bias, preconceived notions, fears threats and convictions about any specified topic" (Gardner, 1980). It can be described in other words as a mirror through which the inner emotions, feelings, beliefs, liking, disliking can be depicted.
As these are the inner as well as the overt behaviors of individuals, they have a strong impact on decision making and finding the way for further progress. In the same perspective, an attitude towards learning a language depicts the way in which the learner feels about second language. It highlights the beliefs, in relation to the language which is being learnt.
An attitude can be influenced by parents, teachers as well as by the society including the religion. Our affiliations, our interest as well as our purpose behind learning L2, all play a vital role in forming attitude towards learning a language. Having a review of the related literature, it may be concluded that these factors have a strong influence on the beliefs, liking and disliking of students and have an impact on their overall achievement in the second language learning.
Rationale of the Study
This study aims to examine the student's attitude towards learning English. It focuses on the relationship between students' attitude and their achievements in English language. In the light of this study, it is possible to put forward those factors like students attitude towards teachers, curriculum, and teachers' methodologies that can be the causes of students' low achievements in exams or their disinterest in the language learning.
This study will show students positive or negative attitude towards learning English and their proficiency in it. It will take into account students' experience and motivation provided by the teachers. As the aim of this study is to investigate the student's attitude towards learning English language, it will show that either students' want to learn English for integrative or for instrumental purpose. In short, this study is designed to highlight the attitude of male and female students and also to investigate the difference between the attitude of male and female students towards learning English.