Author Topic: What Motivates My Cousin's Wife in Using English  (Read 771 times)

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Offline Nathaniel Anleitner

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What Motivates My Cousin's Wife in Using English
« on: May 03, 2017, 02:43:04 AM »
Just last summer, my cousin married a woman from the Iloilo province Philippines. The Philippines has a rich linguistic background; not only did the consecutive colonial languages of Spanish and English have an influence, conservative estimates place the number of native languages in the Philippines at around 120. After the regional language of Hiligaynon and the national language of Tagalog, English is my cousin-in-law's third language, but despite this she is a voracious reader and an avid writer. As an aspiring ESL teacher, I thought I would ask her what motivated her in using English, before and after coming to the States.

A common theme of motivation in doing well was societal pressure, both from the outside world and from inside the country. Learning English opens a lot of doors, and skilled English speakers might be able to score a job at a call center in the Philippines. Additionally, some classes were taught in English or used English textbooks. However, many Filipinos would mercilessly critique each other on their English usage; everything had to be perfect or else you might get mocked by your peers. While this makes many want to improve their skills in English (to avoid the unwanted attention), she also said it awakened an anxiety of speaking English. According to her, many Filipinos prefer writing to speaking.

However, a lot of pop culture in the Philippines was in English as well. Bookstores mainly sold books in English, and one of my in-law's favorite ways to engage with English was by watching a Disney movie. YA dystopian novels, like Hunger Games and Divergent, were a gateway into the classics. I think there exists a lot of ways to intrinsically motivate students to use the language on top of the societal demand.

Today my cousin's wife lives with him in the States, so I imagine she is almost continuously immersed in English. Obviously, this is another motivating factor in learning English, but as an English teacher, we can't presume all students will be exposed to English in this way.

What do you guys think? If you had to teach in a country like the Philippines, what might you take into account when creating your lesson?