Improving my French Skills through the lens of SLA

In addition to taking an additional night class while in Bordeaux, I actually want to try to use some of the learning strategies and concepts that I learned about in my Second Language Acquisition course and my Techniques for Teaching Foreign Languages course this semester. One concept that was emphasized in both courses was the extremely important role that motivation plays in learning another language. The limited research that has been done on motivation has shown that students with different motivation levels and different types of motivation have varying levels of success while learning a language. For example student who has a positive attitude toward a language and culture and have an extrinsic desire to learn and assimilate into that culture using that language seem to usually be significantly more successful in learning a second language than someone who has a negative attitude toward a specific language and have no desire to use the language to integrate themselves further into a culture. Being motivated to learn a language by a need to use it to communicate and integrate also seems to be more effective in learning a language than being motivated to learn a language through obligation, which is sometimes the case with businesspeople who may learn enough of another language to get by and communicate in the business world but may not necessarily strive to learn past what they need.

Knowing this concept, I would like to strive to be more extrinsically motivated to learn French while abroad by putting myself in environments where I would be more likely to want to communicate for the sake of communication and integration rather than doing it out of an obligation like I might in a classroom. One initial thought I had to facilitate motivation were to join a volunteer group, where I would need to use French in order to communicate with the people I’m helping or collaborating with, as I was actually hoping to find a group to volunteer with in France.

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