Language Learning and the Emergence of New Identities in a Globalized World
Güray König (Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey)
An inevitable consequence of the globalization process in our age has been the increasing need for communication among the speakers of different languages with different social, cultural, ethnic and national identities. The increase in motivation to learn languages and contacts among people who have very different sets of values is accompanied by a change in the way people behave, think, and interpret the world. As a result, they evaluate their values in relation to the value systems they experience and in a way, reshape their expectations, values and behavior. This study investigates this phenomenon in the context of changing language learning trends of Turkish university students. The motivation of university students in third and fourth language learning is investigated. The participants of the study consist of Turkish university students whose native language is Turkish and who have learned English in the secondary education and those whose native language is one other than Turkish and who have learned Turkish as a second language and English as a third (and first foreign) language in secondary education. They have learned another language at higher education.
Students are offered a number of elective foreign language courses in Turkish universities. In general, the courses offered have been French and German and a number of students used to take one of these courses at the elementary level, and only a few of them continued their studies at higher levels in these courses. In recent years, parallel to the developments all over the world, languages other than French and German started to be offered in higher education such as Italian, French, Russian and Chinese. Students who showed little interest in taking the formerly offered courses have been highly motivated in taking the courses in these languages. It is a well-known fact that people learn languages with very different aims and reasons which are often related to their social, cultural, ethnic and national backgrounds. The change in the languages learned and the motivation to take these courses seem to be an indicator of a change in the way university students perceive themselves in relation to the society and the world.
The aim of this small-scale study is to investigate the motivation of the students from a qualitative perspective. Motivation is defined as a qualitative variable in the study in terms of patterns of thinking and belief shaping the students’ engagement in the learning process (Ushioda, 2001) and in defining their identities.