Boys, MFL and motivation

Name of researcher

Vickie Rawlinson

Area of research

Boys, MFL and motivation

Contact address

Cams Hill School
Shearwater Avenue
PO16 8AH
School website:

Pupils in sample

Year 9 French set one of four: 12 boys, 18 girls

Aims of project

To raise achievement by addressing motivation on three levels:
  1. pupils' attitude to MFL as a subject
  2. pupils’ perceptions of themselves as L2 learners
  3. activities in the L2 classroom

Headline strategies

Strategies were based on existing research literature into L2 learning and motivation, plus data collected from pupil questionnaires was used when designing activities.

Teaching principles

  • Attitudinal change brought about by challenging pupil perceptions with facts about the usefulness of L2 learning.
  • Pupil autonomy enhanced by involving pupils in their learning, asking their opinions, and offering them choices of what to learn and how. The teacher took on a more facilitative role.
  • Pupil confidence in their abilities was increased by teacher attitude to errors (part of learning and progression; pupils were taught to differentiate between errors such as spelling and gender and more serious ones involving verbs). Pupils could decide which areas they needed to spend more time on to consolidate their knowledge, and they were encouraged to make links to previous learning so that a sense of progression and achievement was built up.

Classroom activities

  • Chosen by pupils as things they enjoyed and that helped them learn.
  • ICT: the Internet, Internet language games, e-mail, PowerPoint, Publisher, Fun With Texts.
  • Group work, pair work, individual work, teacher-led, pupil research.
  • Games and competitions.
  • Use of cartoons and video (including Star Wars in English to reinforce the passé composé!).
  • Kinaesthetic activities.
  • Customised worksheets to sustain interest and autonomy by allowing pupils to make their own conclusions and discoveries of language patterns.
  • Three different activities devised from one piece of source material to allow pupil choice relevant to interest and learning style.

Evidence of success

  • Enhanced relationships with pupils.
  • Improved class and homework.
  • More autonomous pupils.
  • Interviews and further questionnaires showed pupils had enjoyed the project and felt more confident in their abilities.
  • Comparable before and after testing showed an average score increase of over 10%.