Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 2

German Language Related Abstracts

2 Motivation and Attitudes toward Learning English and German as Foreign Languages among Sudanese University Students

Authors: A. Ishag, E. Witruk, C. Altmayer

Abstract:

Motivation and attitudes are considered as hypothetical psychological constructs in explaining the process of second language learning. Gardner (1985) – who first systematically investigated the motivational factors in second language acquisition – found that L2 achievement is related not only to the individual learner’s linguistic aptitude or general intelligence but also to the learner’s motivation and interest in learning the target language. Traditionally language learning motivation can be divided into two types: integrative motivation – the desire to integrate oneself with the target culture; and instrumental motivation – the desire to learn a language in order to meet a specific language requirement such as for employment. One of the Gardner’s main ideas is that the integrative motivation plays an important role in second language acquisition. It is directly and positively related to second language achievement more than instrumental motivation. However, the significance of integrative motivation reflects a rather controversial set of findings. On the other hand, Students’ attitudes towards the target language, its speakers and the learning context may all play some part in explaining their success in learning a language. Accordingly, the present study aims at exploring the significance of motivational and attitudinal factors in learning foreign languages, namely English and German among Sudanese undergraduate students from a psycholinguistic and interdisciplinary perspective. The sample composed of 221 students from the English and German language departments respectively at the University of Khartoum in Sudan. The results indicate that English language’s learners are instrumentally motivated and that German language’s learners have positive attitudes towards the German language community and culture. Furthermore, there are statistical significant differences in the attitudes toward the two languages due to gender; where female students have more positive attitudes than their male counterparts. However, there are no differences along the variables of academic grade and study level. Finally, the reasons of studying the English or German language have also been indicated.

Keywords: English Language, German Language, foreign language learning, motivation and attitudes

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1 Aesthetic Perception and Prestige of the German Language in Europe: A Socio-Cognitive Study from Cross-Modal Correspondences to Social Connotations

Authors: Alessandra Domizi

Abstract:

The study analyzes how German is aesthetically perceived in the European area, especially as far as the sound of this language is concerned. The theoretical background for the study arises from research on language attitudes towards English and German language varieties being applied to the German Language as a whole. The latter is here regarded from the external perspective of non-speakers and non-native speakers of German, while also taking into account native speakers’ self-attitude. This analysis is relevant for 1) achieving a better understanding of language-related perception processes in general and a deeper awareness of their social implications and value; 2) achieving a better understanding of the social and political landscapes of Europe as well as Germany’s perceived role through the indirect tool of language attitudes research, 3) the setting of a starting point for the collection and interpretation of a comprehensive set of data to constitute the basis for future development of innovative teaching methods that take into account learners’ perception and attitudes towards the target language (this would regard the teaching of German language at first, but could potentially be extended, as a method, to the teaching of any language). Starting from the general observation that negative judgments about German seem to be quite widespread, the study aims to find out: 1) whether there might be at least something inherent in the aesthetic perception of languages (an idea which is currently discarded by most linguists); 2) which kind of social connotations connected to German-speaking countries and people emerge in association with people’s attitudes towards the German language. To achieve these research goals, a survey has been carried out in different European countries, selected based on the respective national languages. In order for the main language families to be represented (in consideration of the hypothesis that participants’ native languages would influence their perception of a foreign language), the following countries have been chosen: Germany and Austria (Germanic, for self-perception), UK (Germanic) Italy (Romance), Poland (Slavic), Latvia (Baltic), Hungary (Uralic). The survey featured 1) a first quantitative, cognitive phase requiring participants to complete a number of tasks aimed to promote spontaneous connections between the different areas of perception/sensory modalities –an indirect approach to researching broadly (or possibly universally) shared traits in sound perception through cross-modal correspondences (sight and hearing), 2) a second quantitative and qualitative sociological phase involving direct questions with both scalar and open response options; 3) a third quantitative and qualitative phase where an auditory stimulus is provided for the participants to comment on. Analysis and interpretation of the collected data were visualized through diverse models. These provide an overview of the aesthetic perception and prestige of the German language in the addressed countries, with identifiable patterns in relation to variables such as language family of origin, historical connotations, and language knowledge. The response to the cognitive tasks widely confirmed previous Gestalt Psychology research about cross-modal correspondences between the sight and hearing sensory modalities, therefore inviting to further pursue this track in future research on the topic of language sound perception.

Keywords: Sociolinguistics, Europe, German Language, language perception, language prestige

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