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Dear My Precious English Language Learning Friend

Of course I knew you had been working on a “Not So Fictional Email”, but I didn’t expect that it actually was meant for me. It’s a well-known fact among your blog readers that all the letters you’ve written are titled with the adjectives “fictional” or “imaginary” which, by the way, I’m very fond of. Oh, for your information, my favorite is definitely “Imaginary Letter”. You know why ;-) Besides the adjective thing, it gave me another sense of privilege that a new post category was created for “A LETTER”. Is this OK to expect that you’re going to write more LETTERs to me? I do hope so.

Now let me start my response with the motivation for L2 writing and how to deal with it. You pose a question about what we can do about the whole situation on this blogosphere, say, whether to encourage other learners to write in English on their blogs or to be more supportive and make constructive, encouraging comments. You haven’t manifested your own opinion there, so let me be the first to have a word. This may sound very unkind, inconsiderate, unsympathetic or even run the risk of disappointing you (hopefully NOT), but I dare to say that it is very unlikely that those learners will start writing in English by way of explicit, direct actions of ours. On this particular matter, I’m extremely pessimistic. One of my convictions cultivated through my teaching experiences is that what others can do to motivate a learner for an extra and unremitting push is very, very limited or at least not enduring. As we know full well that language learning is a painful job and requires a huge amount of effort for quite a long time. It’s a harsh reality that no one would launch such a seemingly impossible job unless they’re intrinsically motivated, or in “now-or-never” situation, or forced by external factors that might cause very serious consequences.

I learned that there are five types of motivation control in L2 vocabulary learning in the Second Language Acquisition class: Commitment control (to keep doing it), Meta-cognitive control (to obtain necessary English knowledge), Satiation control (to avoid getting too bored), Emotion control (to overcome anxiety or boredom,), and Environmental control (to create best possible learning circumstances). I believe that the categorization works for L2 writing as well. OK, take English language learning bloggers in Japan for instance. Meta-cognitive control won’t be that problematic. Those English language learning bloggers already have acquired sufficient (at least it seems to me) English proficiency to write a 150-200 word blog post in English routinely if they ever try. I think you agree on this. And as you suggested, there are many ways to have their written products proofread, such as Lang8, Googling, and most importantly, “self-proofreading”. I’m guessing, however, that Commitment control and Emotion control could be a huge hurdle for them. As we’re all aware, blogging is ultimately a voluntary act and nobody can force anybody to do so. Once bloggers have established reader/visitor community and started feeling some kind of facilitative responsibility to write in English, Commitment control will get a little manageable. Until that moment, the bloggers make their own way on their own. That’s what any kind of learning is supposed to be, by the way ;-) Secondly, Emotion control comes down to so-called “anxiety”. It’s so sad or even pathetic that English language learners in Japan are obsessed with anxiety toward their English abilities. It must be due to so many factors and we can do almost nothing about it. They are born to have anxiety, so to speak. It’s a matter of personality or aptitude to be able to overcome anxiety and stay open to new experiences. All in all, I can’t deny that the motivation control is their problem, not ours.

That said, I believe that there still be some sort of “niche” where we can come into play- Intrinsic motivation. I had been reading other people’s blogs, of course yours on top of my interests, but never started blogging myself until the end of last year. During that time, it was like I was waiting for the moment for my blogging motive to fully ripen, and the time CAME! In other words, that amount of time was necessary for me to start a new routine while testing my interest, resolution, and commitment. Many bloggers who are somewhat interested in L2 writing will go through this kind of process. It takes time, but the moment will come sooner or later to those who cannot help brushing up their English ability. As an attempt to facilitate those moments to happen to English language learning bloggers, what we can do is just letting them know what we’re doing, what we’re enjoying, and what we’re struggling with. Don’t you think that it’s interesting to overhear conversations of people on train or colleagues in office? We can enjoy listening to what they’re talking as a total “observer” without any responsibility. But as the conversation gets exciting, we’ll more or less be inclined to join the talk and express your thoughts to them. That’s what could happen on this blogosphere as well. Am I being too optimistic?

I really adore your rendition on language, quote “we're learning the best instrument ever — called 'language'. English makes it possible that we exchange our thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc. with billions of people all over the world, but it's only possible when it's said or written.” I can’t agree more, my dear friend. Yes, we both love Heavy Rock and Heavy Metal, which gave us the initial drive to learn English intrinsically. In the course of English language learning, we’ve experienced the countless joy of being connected to the English speaking people all over the world, these days specifically, on the cyberspace. What connected us a few months ago was also THE cyberspace, right?! It’s absolutely possible to foster this kind of English language learner relationship, and we’ve been verifying this seemingly implausible hypothesis! I hope other English language learners who have access to the cyberspace will establish healthy and inspiring English language learner relationships. Exchanging "LETTER" between us is one way to spread a facilitative atmosphere to write in English, and I truly hope so. OK, that’s what I’ve got for you today. Keep learning and make your English good. So will I.


Let's keep listening to our beloved Bon!
[広告] VPS



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