Step 1: Identify a Problem
For my SLA module I am working through problems in my teaching practice and looking toward SLA theory to provide some solutions. (I am also working through problems in my learning practice, but what with limited time, will have to come back to that at a later stage of my studies). One such obstacle that regularly presents itself is managing the conflicting parental expectations of my young learners. Some parents have precise requirements they wish me to achieve, others only have vague, unspecified opinions about their child’s language learning. Similarly, some parents seem to be very involved with helping their child learn English at home, whereas others are much less so. In this way, the igniting question for this SLA project would be something like: To what extent does parental involvement affect the motivation of students studying a second language?
Step 2: Conduct Wide Research
In order to contextualise the issue of parental expectations and student motivations within the wider field of SLA, I have started to research articles on the topic:
1. Thesis Submission: The Role of Home Environment in Second Language Learning by Rashid Khan (85 pages)
2. Thesis Submission: Investigating the Motivations of Parents Choosing Language Immersion Education for their Child by Fatima Baig (154 pages)
3. Goals, Attitudes and Self-Related Beliefs in Second Language Learner Motivation: An Interactive Model of Language Learner Motivation by Judit Kormos, Thom Kiddle and Kata Csizer (40 pages)
4. Motivations and Expectations of English Language Learning among Primary School Children and Parents in China by LiXian Jin, ChangSheng Jian, Jie Zhang, Yuan Yuan, XiaoHua Liang and Qun Xie (39 pages)
5. Student motivation, parental attitudes and involvement in the learning of Asian languages in elementary and secondary schools by Sung and Padilla (13 pages)
Step 3: Narrow Research and Make a Presentation
I decided to make a simple online presentation based on number 4, Motivations and Expectations of English Language Learning among Primary School Children and Parents in China (see embedded video above), highlighting the key findings. This paper is particularly pertinent because it was very recently published, in the summer of 2014, and because it is directly relevant to my teaching situation, living and working with young children in China.
It’s a great read, even more so for revealing an innovative research method based on the Zaltman methaphor elicitation technique. If you don’t have time to read the entire paper, watch my 15-minute presentation instead.
Step 4: Consider SLA theory
Now as I work toward translating this paper’s conclusions into something more practical, I want to consider how psycholinguistic approaches may help further address my igniting question. See the next post for more details!