Ways to help minority students in Xinjiang learn English
Abstract: According to the problems that minority students in Xinjiang meet when learning
English, we offered some ways to help them improve their English, including promoting
their self-efficacy, using different teaching methods and encouraging their self-regulated learning.
Keywords: minority students; self-efficacy; teaching methods; self-regulated learning
Some college minority students in Xinjiang start to learn English in university with Chinese as instructional
language and they consider their bilingual experiences facilitate their English learning. They may have
strong intensity of English learning motivation but not highly enough to meet the required needs, so we should
still foster their positive motivation constantly in different ways, particularly in the areas of self
-efficacy, teaching methods and self-regulated learning.
First of all, promoting students’ self-efficacy is of great significance.Since attribution to
abilityis related to self-efficacy while self-efficacy will affect the amount of effort to expend,
it is veryimportant to strengthen self-efficacy of the students to enhance their motivation. In view of this,a good language teacher should help the students promote positive self-efficacy by making them understand that
it is not lack of ability but it might be language transfer that hinder them from further progressing. The teacher
could also cite advantages of bilinguals to the students, for example, they are experienced with comparatively
developed skills, language awareness and communicative sensitivity which attribute to a positive effect on third
language acquisition. Besides, the teacher should convince the students that they are sure to succeed if they
exert enough effort on it so as to promote their positive self-efficacy. Only when the students have a full
awareness of their potentialities can they reach a high sense of self-efficacy which may strengthen their
Second, the application of various teaching methods is able to strengthen the students’ motivations.
The college minority students in Xinjiang generally learn fundamental English since most of them have no
foundations before they started to learn it in the university. Therefore, traditional grammar teaching method is
necessary at the beginning stage. With the processing of the lessons, the teacher should try more varied methods
to motivate students concerning their unique features. Minority students in Xinjiang are generally regarded
as sociable, outgoing and flowing with enthusiasm, so as most of the students, they are extrovert learners.
Therefore, the teacher should apply more varied and flexible teaching methods to create a light and lively learn
ing atmosphere and encourage more students to get actively involved in activities in class. For example, the
teacher could arrange free presentation for students in classes in various forms such as singing English songs,
reciting English poems, telling interesting English stories or humors, introducing native customs or foreign
cultures, talking about their language learning strategies and experience and so on. Corporative learning would
also be welcomed by the students. In addition, the teacher could require the students to collect background
information related to the learning materials in each unit, discuss them in groups and give a report to the class
during the lecture or organize group discussions and role play in class. < , /span>
Finally, we should try to encourage students’ self-regulated learning. It is generally believed
that a language can be learned and not be taught. Moreover, research on individual differences tells us that the
learner is the decisive factor in language learning and everything else is but an external condition.
Therefore, it is important to make students aware that they are indeed responsible for their learning and they
can learn the language independently if they cultivate self-regulated learning ability. The teacher could help
the students foster self-regulated learning ability by setting a long-term goal for them first. Learning a
language is different from learning other subjects; it takes time and will to achieve success. What the minority
students have learnt and the time they spent in English learning in the university are far beyond their needs, so they have to continue their English studies for quite a long time even if they have completed their English
studies in the university according to the requirement.
To summarize, the English learning of the college minority students in Xinjiang is rather complicated not
only because it involves the third language acquisition but also it is influenced by lots of internal and external
factor. We only listed three main ways to help minority students in Xinjiang learn English. Just as
the saying goes “where there is a will there is a way”. Therefore, internal factors especially motivation plays a
moreimportant role in learning. No matter what kind of motivation it is, we can use it to drive a student to
刘翃.少数民族学生英语学习情况调查报告[J].西南民族大学学报(人文社科版), 2003(10): 354-355.