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Language is Power - Attitude to English Language Learning of Italian Pupils during an intensive summer school Programme

Massimiliano Spotti - University of London - [1999]
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  • Tesi completa: 49 pagine
  • Abstract

    This study sets two main investigations on 41 Italian students attending an intensive summer course of English as a Foreign Language at Goldsmiths College, University of London, from 17 July to 31 July, 2000.

    Both the hypotheses formulated for this study focused on Attitude to the English Language.

    The first one (Hypothesis 1) aimed to investigate whether there is a significant correlation between Language Attitude and Proficiency (i.e. the higher is the Attitude toward the Language studied, the higher will be the proficiency improvement by the end of the two week course).
    The second (Hypothesis 2), instead, aimed to investigate whether there is a significant correlation between the Frequency of Exposure to English in their home country and their attitude toward the language itself (i.e. the higher is the frequency of exposure, the higher will be their attitude level toward language).

    The study did not aim to make any distinction between the purposes of language attitude (i.e. instrumental vs. integrative) as any distinction given in previous studies appeared to be liable of criticism.

    The research data were gathered in a questionnaire survey - one for each hypothesis - and three pupils were interviewed so to enrich the statistical data collected with qualitative data and students' insights on language attitude.

    The testing of hypothesis 1 did not show a statistically significant correlation between Language Attitude and Proficiency Improvement.
    The most interesting results have been examined in the discussion showing that this investigation might have been affected either by a relatively small sample (41 students) and by the fact that attitude is a fuzzy concept.
    Furthermore, the testing of Hypothesis 2 did not show a statistically significant correlation between Frequency of Exposure to the English Language and Language Attitude.
    However, even though based on the study of a relatively small sample, it can be suggested that Frequency of Exposure to a foreign language does not play a determinant role in the development of language attitude.

    The relationship between these two variables in an intensive summer language course has never been investigated before.

    Also, the qualitative data collected through interviews and all the insights given by the students through the questionnaires, allowed to draw a clear picture of the status and domains of English as a foreign language in Italy.
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