Consider the Student:
Probably the majority of students studying a foreign or second language in school are simply doing it because it is part of the curriculum. Some students may have dreams of becoming bilingual when they start introductory Spanish or French, etc., but they are likely to be the minority. Nonetheless, when students first enter the language class, they are often motivated by dreams of being able to speak the language in a few weeks. They are generally unaware of the demands that will be placed on them. Quite often, they are very excited about learning another language and begin the study with enthusiasm. This often doesn’t last very long.
For example in Japan, English is introduced into the curriculum in grade 7, and many of the teachers made the observation that although the students are initially very enthusiastic about learning English, their enthusiasm wanes before the end of the first year. Some of the teachers felt that this could be due to an over-emphasis on grammar translation in the curriculum. Others felt that it could be due to the age of the children and opined that starting languages earlier and focussing on oral production would eliminate the problem. Others felt that it was due to the quiet nature of Japanese children who often find it embarrassing to speak the language. Still others felt that there were too few model speakers of English, and too few opportunities outside of the classroom to use it. And of course, all of these plus many more are likely responsible, both in Japan and elsewhere.
When students are learning a second language, they have a number of duties and responsibilities. First and foremost, (1) they must pass the course. In addition, however, they must acquire language content (vocabulary, grammar and the like); (2) they must acquire language skills (oral production, aural comprehension); (3) they must develop some degree of automatically and fluency with their handling of the language; and ultimately, (4) they must develop some degree of willingness to use the language outside of the classroom. This is no small set of requirements; (5) they must learn to think in target language (auditor: Melika Sarbazi)