Self-Esteem in Language Learning

by Mr. Ruwandi, MA

Self-esteem or self-confidence contributes the success of language learning. This may cause both positive and negative effects to learners as well as the learning processes. learners who have self-confidence will linearly succeed in language learning processes. Conversely, those who have less self-confidence will have lower spirit or motivation to the successful study of language. For the reason, the higher the self-confidence the students have, the higher the spirit to study will be, and the lower the self-confidence the students possess the lower the spirit to study will be.

The terms self-confidence must not be negatively interpreted or applied. This is not equal with narcissism by which the narcissis may underestimate the others. The self-confident persons, in fact, must respect and regard others as the co-partners not as rivals. Otherwise, this is not self-confident anymore but arrogant. The arrogant beings are usually never to respect and regard others as the partners but as the inferiors.

For the reason, the relation among the performers is not equal.

According to Cart Rogers cited by Brown (1980), self-esteem is the self-concept or self-structure that is thought as the organized configuration of perceptions of the self that are acceptable to awareness. It consists of such elements as the perceptions of one’s characteristics and abilities; the principles and concepts of the self in relation to others and the environment; the worth qualities which are perceived as having a positive or negative valence.

Coopersmith quoted by Brown (2001) says that self-esteem refers to the evaluation that individual makes and customarily maintains with regard to himself; it expresses an attitude of approval or disapproval, and indicates the extent to which an individual believes himself to be capable, significant, successful and worthy. In short, self-esteem is a personal judgment of worthiness that is expressed in the attitudes that the individual holds towards himself. It is a subjective experience that the individual conveys to others by verbal reports and other overt expressive behaviors.

Self-confidence is necessary in language study. As the explanation at the second paragraph, the self-confident students will use their time intensively. However, they will not intervene others’ times to make use language.They keep respecting and regarding others and absolutely give chances to the others to self-actualize their capabilities in the language study.

Language learners must have self-esteem because they have their own potentials to study. However, they may intensify the use of them in the language practice or study. They must believe because they have innate abilities that may support their self-esteem. In addition, they may develop and improve their self-esteem to be proportionally standardized.

In 1976, Brodkey and Shore; and in 1972, Gardner and Lambert (Brown, 1980) included measures of self-esteem in their studies of success in language learning. Although there was no statistical evidence that emerged from their studies, they concluded that self-esteem proved to be very important variable in second language acquisition, particularly in view of cross-cultural factors of second language learning. Based on the reviews, this is clear that self-esteem plays an important role in the language learning. To make use, students must be aware of the existence.

Students may increase their self-esteem through several ways. Since there are two sources of self-esteem namely internal and external self-confident sources, they may develop through one of them. Internal self-esteem is that they bring or possess since they are given birth. This is inborn capacity of acquiring language. External self confidence is that which is taken through several interactions with others. Thus, the more often they interact with others, the more improved their self-esteem will be.

So far, most of students do not care of the function of self-esteem in their language study. They are careless with it because of two reasons. The first is because they do not know that they must have internal self-esteem. In addition, they do not know that it must be raised or actualized. Secondly, they do not know that they must have internal self-esteem. In addition, they do not know that it must be raised or actualized. Secondly, they do not know how to increase and improve their internal self-confidence so it can be academically used. Based on the fact, English teachers need to communicate and convince their students that they have internal property of self-esteem. Besides, they should convince that the self-esteem could be developed and improved through external language interaction with others.

Brown (1980) says self-esteem is the most persistent factor of any human behavior. The successful cognitive and affective activities can only be accomplished with some degree of self-esteem, self-confidence, knowledge of yourself and belief in your own capabilities for those activities. Quoting Malinowski he says that all human beings have a need for phatic communion – defining oneself and finding acceptance in articulating the self in relation to valued others. Moreover, in fact, personality development universally involves the growth of a person’s concept of the self, the acceptance of the self, and the reflection of that self as can seen in the interaction between the self and the others.