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MOTIVATION IN LANGUAGE LEARNING

Introduction

Many believe motivation to learn is the key to successful language learning. However, if we take a look at research on motivation, it is hard to say what motivation is. This section begins with a brief introduction to the field followed by a discussion of the definitions of motivation. Various theories and models proposed for L2 motivation are presented. First, the researcher discusses various definitions of motivation proposed by several scholars and discusses the integrative and instrumental motivation distinction. Then, other influential psychological theories of motivation and some motivational components relevant to L2 learning which emerged after the educational shift in the 1990s will also be discussed.

Dörnyei (2006) argues that L2 motivation research have undergone three stages of development: the social psychological period (1959-1990, the cognitive situated period (during the 1990s), and other new approaches in the past decade characterised by an interest in motivational change and the relationship between motivation and identity/self. The social psychological period (1959-1990) began with the studies which were conducted by the social psychologist Robert Gardner and his students and colleagues in Canada. Gardner was interested in L2 motivation because he believed that the motivation to learn the other community’s language might be the key to the reconciliation of the Francophone and Anglophone communities. The main idea of Gardner’s theory is that success in language learning depends on the learner’s attitudes towards the community of the target language. The most important motivational dimension in Gardner’s theory is the interpersonal/affective dimension. Language learning is motivated by the positive attitudes towards the target language community and by the desire to communicate with its members, and maybe even to become like them. This dimension is described by other terms as ‘integrative orientation’, ‘integrativeness’ or ‘integrative motivation’.

 

During the 1990’s researchers such as Dörnyei realised that there is more to motivation than what is defined by Gardner’s theory. The L2 motivation research mainly focused on motives related to the classroom, and it also concentrated on the main components of the learning situation such as the teacher, the curriculum and the learner group.

 

With the emergence of the ‘process-oriented’ approach which attempts to explain the variation of the degree of motivation over time, motivation came to be not seen as a static characteristic but rather as a dynamic factor that exhibits continuous fluctuation, (Dörnyei, 2001).

 

Dörnyei (2005) has proposed an alternative approach to the understanding of L2 motivation which attempts to integrate a number of influential L2 theories with findings of self research in psychology. In this approach ‘integrativeness/integrative motivation’ is associated with the ‘Ideal L2 Self’ which refers to the L2-specific feature of one’s ‘ideal self’, represented by all the characteristics that a person would like to possess, for example, hopes, aspirations, desires and so on. If one’s ideal self is seen as proficient in the L2, he/she can be described as having an ‘integrative’ disposition. If the person we would like to become speaks an L2, the ‘ideal L2 self’ is a powerful motivator to learn the L2 because we would like to reduce the difference between our actual and ideal selves. Here integrativeness/integrative motivation is equated with the ideal L2 self.

 

The expansion of the model of motivation developed by Gardner and associates in Canada in the 1960s as well as the proposal of several cognitive psychological theories of motivation has motivated language researchers to expand Gardner’s model according to these theories so as to enhance our understanding of L2 motivation.

 

 

2.2 Definitions of Motivation

A definition of the term motivation seems rather difficult, because it is not a clearly given object but a scientific construct upon which there is disagreement among researchers about the precise nature of its meaning (Dörnyei, 2001). When looking for more precise scientific definitions, however, one finds a large variety. Some definitions offered by several scholars are discussed below with the aim of reaching a working definition of motivation.

 

According to Gardner (1985: 10) the term motivation refers “to the extent to which the individual works or strives to learn the language because of a desire to do so and the satisfaction experienced in this activity”. Here motivation encompasses four aspects: a goal, an effort, a desire to achieve the goal, and a favourable attitude towards the activity in question.

 

Likewise, Gardner and Tremblay (1994: 361) stated that motivation “refers to the combination of effort plus desire to achieve the goal of learning the language plus favourable attitudes towards the language”. They contend that these three elements are indivisible because in total they will provide an explanation for second language achievement.

 

Brown (1987: 114) defines motivation “as an inner drive, impulse, emotion, or desire that moves one to a particular action. More specifically, human beings universally have needs or drives that are more or less innate, yet their intensity is environmentally conditioned”. Thus, motivation is seen as consisting of a desire to perform an activity, but the strength of this desire or drive is dependent on external circumstances (environmentally conditioned).  In fact, Brown’s (19870) definition resembles the previous one’s in that it replicates the same elements mentioned in the preceding definitions in a synonymous way. The only different element added to Gardner’s (1985) and Gardner’s and Tremblay’s (1987) definitions is the condition that desire to perform an action is innate and that its strength is contingent on external circumstances.

 

Keller (1983, cited by Crookes and Schmidt, 1991:481) gives a simple definition of what motivation is by saying: “the choices people make as to what experiences or goals they will approach or avoid and the degree of effort they will exert in that respect”. Motivation in this way is a matter of choice and effort.

 

Deci and Ryan (1985) differentiate between two kinds of motivation, namely, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and they (Ryan and Deci, 2000: 54) argue that “To be motivated means to be moved to do something. A person who feels no impetus or inspiration to act is thus unmotivated, whereas someone who is energized or activated toward an end is considered motivated”. Ryan and Deci (2000: 56) define intrinsic motivation as “the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequence”. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, “refers to doing something because it leads to a separable outcome” (Ryan and Deci, 2000: 55). Intrinsically motivated learners are those who willingly engage in an activity because that activity is enjoyable and satisfying to do. In contrast, extrinsically motivated students are those who perform actions to achieve some instrumental end, such as earning a reward, good grades or avoiding a punishment. Deci and Ryan (1985, 2000) claim that learners who are interested in learning tasks and outcomes for their own sake (Intrinsic motivation) rather than for rewards (Extrinsic motivation) are likely to become more effective learners.

 

In fact, Deci’s and Ryan’s (1985, 2000) account of motivation is comparable to Gardner’s. Their explication of what motivation is includes certain elements which are also found in Gardner’ definition. For example ‘feeling an impetus or inspiration to act’ is parallel to ‘desire to learn the language’ repeatedly mentioned in Gardner’s explanations. Moreover, the terms ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’ in Ryan’s and Deci’s (2000) account are related to the terms ‘integrative and ‘instrumental” in Gardner’s descriptions of motivation. Here the integrative orientation resembles intrinsic motivation because both are a result of a desire or an impetus to do an activity, but the source of the desire or impetus initiating the performance is different. Intrinsically motivated individuals learn a language because they are satisfied by doing the activity of learning that language and are enjoyed by doing so (Ryan and Deci, 2000). In contrast, learners with integrative orientation are interested in learning a certain language because they want to integrate with the target language community (Gardner, 2001a: 5). Thus, the goals of exercising the same action (learning a language) are distinct. Finally, it seems that extrinsically and instrumentally motivated students are more or less the same because both are individuals who perform certain actions according to external regulations or in order to achieve some instrumental end such as earning a reward or avoiding a punishment.

 

Similarly, Daft (1997: 526) defined motivation as “the forces either within or external to a person that arouse enthusiasm and persistence to pursue a certain course of action”. Daft’s (1997) definition of motivation highlights the internal-external drives which make an individual choose to perform a particular action as well as how long he/she will sustain it.

 

Ames and Ames (1989) regard motivation as the impetus to create and sustain intentions and goal-seeking acts. Motivation in this respect is the drive generating a certain action which is dependent on a previously set goal and the effort exerted to achieve that goal.

 

Dörnyei and Otto (1998: 64) defined motivation

“as the dynamically changing cumulative arousal in a person that initiates, directs, coordinates, amplifies, terminates, and evaluates the cognitive and motor processes whereby initial wishes and desires are selected, prioritized, operationalized and (successfully or unsuccessfully) acted out”.

 

What makes Dörnyei and Otto’s (1998) definition different is the dynamic changing aspect of motivation. Here motivation is not seen as static state, but rather as dynamic and it changes according to circumstances and over time.

 

In fact, the shift in the study of motivation during the last half of the twentieth century from a behaviourist perspective to a cognitive one made it difficult for researchers to reach an agreement on what motivation precisely is. Accordingly, researchers have investigated motivation from different points of view, which, in turn, led to the formulation of various definitions of motivation. Regardless of the disagreement among scholars (such as Gardner, 1985; Deci and Ryan, 1985 and Dörnyei and Otto’s, 1998) about what motivation is, Dörnyei (2001: 8) argues that

 

“Perhaps the only thing about motivation most researchers agree on is that it, by definition, concerns the direction and magnitude of human behaviour, that is: the choice of a particular action, the persistence with it, the effort expended on it. In other words, motivation is responsible for why people decide to do something, how long they are willing to sustain the activity, and how hard they are going to pursue it”.

 

From the discussion above, one can conclude that almost all the definitions agree that motivation involves the following: a desire, a goal, a favourable attitude towards the activity, favourable attitudes towards the language, choice, effort, persistence.  Moreover, motivation is dependent on the environment, it changes over time, and that it can arise from within the individual or from outside (i.e. intrinsic or extrinsic) or both as place on a continuum.

 

 

2.3 Integrative and Instrumental Motivation

A distinction between instrumental and integrative motivation is usually found in the motivation literature. Instrumental motivation refers to motivation to learn a language as a way for achieving certain goals such as obtaining a job, understanding scientific information, translation, and so on (Brown 1987:115). Integrative motivation on the other hand is “when learners wish to integrate themselves within the culture of the second language group” (Brown 1987: 116). Integrative motivation is believed to be a prerequisite for successful language learning. Even within the integrative/instrumental motivation there is an intrinsic and extrinsic distinction. The former being whether the motivation emanates from within the learner and the latter whether it comes from others (Brown 1987).

 

Gardner (2001b: 9) argues that the variables “Integrativeness, Attitudes toward the learning Situation, and Motivation form “Integrative Motivation””. The first component of integrative motivation, ‘Integrativeness’, involves “a genuine interest in learning the second language in order to come closer psychologically to the other language community” (Gardner, 2001b: 7). Gardner (2001b: 7-8) argues that integrativeness concerns the “willingness to open up to other cultural influences” and “involves emotional identification with another cultural group”. Gardner (2001b: 8) also claims that integrativeness is “reflected in an integrative orientation toward learning the language, a favourable attitude toward the language community, and an openness to other groups in general (i.e. an absence of ethnocentrism)”.

 

According to Gardner (2001b: 8), the second element of integrative motivation, that is ‘Attitudes toward the Learning Situation’, “involves attitudes toward any aspect of the situation in which the language is learnt”. In classroom settings, “these attitudes could be directed toward the teacher, the course in general, one’s classmates, the course materials, extra-curricular activities associated with the course, etc…” (Gardner, 2001b: 8).

 

The last component of integrative motivation is ‘Motivation’ which Gardner (2001b: 8) views as having three elements: effort to learn the language, desire and positive affect. In addition to these three elements motivated learners have goals, experience positive reinforcement from their successes and dissatisfaction for their failures, make attributions about their successes and failures and make use of language learning strategies, but it is enough according to Gardner (2001b: 9) to operationalise motivation “in terms of effort, desire, and attitudes” because, as he argues, by these three elements “we can adequately distinguish differing levels of motivation”.

 

Gardner (2001b: 9) maintains that the integratively motivated learner is the “one who is motivated to learn the second language, has a desire or willingness to identify with the other language community, and tends to evaluate the learning situation positively”. He moreover contends that “There is no reason to argue that motivation is driven only by integrativeness and attitudes toward the learning situation” (Gardner, 2001b: 9). He further asserts that there are additional instrumental variables that support motivation. Together with motivation, he labelled these factors as Instrumental Motivation which he described as “an interest in learning the second language for pragmatic reasons” (Gardner, 2001b: 10-11).

 

Although Gardner and Lambert’s studies have indicated that integrative motivation has the greatest influence in language learning, other researchers have argued that learners might feel that both integrative and instrumental apply to them or that instrumental orientation is superior or possibly that there are other potential reasons. For example, Noels et al (2000: 60) argued that there are four learning goals which seem to sustain motivation. These four goals refer to ‘travel’, ‘friendship’, ‘knowledge’, and ‘instrumental motivation’.

 

Oxford and Shearin (1994: 12) studying American high school students learning Japanese found that besides integrative and instrumental orientations, the students gave other reasons for learning Japanese such as “enjoying the elitism of taking a difficult language” and “having a private code that parents would not know”.

 

Moreover, Lamb (2004) argue that integrative and instrumental orientations were difficult to separate and that student’s attitudes favourable towards the English-speaking cultures might not be relevant in EFL contexts because English is not associated with the Anglophone communities only. Instead, Lamb (2004: 15) argues that

 

“Meeting with westerners, using computers, understanding pop songs, studying or traveling abroad, pursuing a desirable career- all these aspirations are associated with each other and with English as an integral part of the globalization processes that are transforming their society and will profoundly affect their own lives”.

In a paper reviewing the research on motivation in Japan, Irie (2003: 91) asserts that although Japanese university students have a favourable attitude towards native speakers and the target language community, researchers avoid using the label integrative motivation because they believe that this factor is not compatible with the original definition which mirrors a desire to assimilate into the target language community. Irie (2003: 91) also argues that “Another possible reason for avoiding the label is that in many studies the positive disposition factor included items on utilitarian interests, such as traveling, which blurred the distinction between integrative and instrumental motivation as pointed out by Dörnyei (1990, 1994)”.

 

Clement and Kruidenier (1983) and Dörnyei (1994) suggest that the emergence of orientations seems to be determined by the learners, the sociocultural setting and the language being learned. Following this path, Yashima (2002) and Yashima, Zenuke-Nishide, and Shimizu (2004) have identified a variable labelled “International Posture” which has an effect on motivation. They defined this factor “as a general attitude toward the international community that influences English learning and communication among Japanese learners” (Yashima, 2002: 62-63) and is measured in terms of intercultural friendship, approach tendencies (to interact with foreigners), interest in international activities, and interest in foreign affairs. In brief, it is what Gardner (2001b: 7-8) called an openness to other groups in general or “willingness to open up to other cultural influences”.

 

Kraemer (1993) investigated Israeli students learning Arabic and identified a variable which she labelled as ‘Social/Political Attitudes’. She found that this variable had an indirect effect on motivation, and that social and political attitudes reflected close social distance, equal civil rights, and optimism about peace in the future. Again, similar to Gardner’s integrativeness, these attitudes indicate an openness to other communities\cultures.

 

Gardner (2005: 4) argues that studies which claim “to have identified other orientations” “serve a very useful role in identifying how reasons group together [Travel, Educational, Dominance, Friendship, etc…], which might well reflect cultural and even contextual differences”. He maintains that “these other orientations can be further classified as being in the integrative or instrumental camp” (Gardner, 2005: 4). He contends that “these studies may or may not be studying motivation. Without some indication of the relationship between the choice of reasons and the other features of the motivated individual, we will never know” (Gardner, 2005: 4) . He insists that “Without an association with the other attributes that characterize the motivated individual, a reason is just a reason, not a motive” (Gardner, 2005: 4).

 

Dörnyei (1990) and Oxford and Shearin (1994) argued that because integrative motivation involves positive attitudes towards the L2 community, it is more relevant for ESL learners rather than for EFL learners. Mihaljević’s (1998) study also pointed out that attitudes towards native speakers of the target language are more important if the learners are learning English as a second language than if they are learning it in an EFL context, because students learning ESL usually can meet and communicate interactively with native speakers of the target language. Since Canada is a country where French and English are both official languages and hence both can be considered second languages, the emergence of integrative motivation in Gardner and his colleagues’ studies is justified.

 

Although Gardner (2001a: 5) stated that integrativeness “reflects a genuine interest in learning the second language in order to come closer to the other language community”, this factor has also been found in contexts where learners have no opportunity to integrate with the target language community. For instance, Dörnyei and Csizér’s (2002: 453) longitudinal study in Hungary found that an “‘integrativeness’-related factor typically emerges in empirical studies on L2 motivation, regardless of the characteristics of the learners and the learning situations examined”. Dörnyei and Csizér (2002: 453) also believe that “it may be timely to reexamine the term ‘integrativeness’ and its standard definition”.

 

Dörnyei’s (2005) theory of ‘L2 Motivational Self System’ seems to provide a better explanation of this contradiction than does Gardner’s traditional account of ‘integrativeness’. Moreover, Dörnyei’s (2005) theory offers a persuasive argument for the emergence of integrative factors in L2 motivation studies in various learning situations. According to the results of their study, Dörnyei and Csizér’s (2002: 453) have maintained that ‘integrativeness’ might be related to “some more basic identification process within the individual’s self-concept”.

 

Dörnyei (2005: 99-102) has suggested another approach to the understanding of L2 motivation which attempts to incorporate a number of influential L2 theories with findings of self research in psychology. In this approach ‘integrativeness/integrative motivation’ is associated with the ‘Ideal L2 Self’ which refers to the L2-specific aspect of one’s ideal self represented by all the characteristics that a person would like to possess (e.g. hopes, aspirations, desires, etc). If one’s ideal self is seen as proficient in the L2, he/she “can be described as having an integrative disposition”.

 

This ‘L2 Motivational Self System’ is in harmony with the Gardnerian factor of ‘Attitudes towards L2 Speakers’ because if the person we would like to become speaks an L2, the ideal L2 self is a powerful motivator to learn the L2 as we would like to reduce the difference between our actual and ideal selves. Dörnyei (2005: 104) concludes that he “does not think that the term ‘integrativeness’ does justice to the broader interpretation of the concept described here”; but rather he prefers to re-label it as the Ideal L2 Self.

* This is a copy of Chapter 2 from my book: Important Topics In Applied Linguistics: Selected Essays.

عن أ. فرج محمد صوان

استاذ علم اللغة التطبيقي واللغة الانجليزية في جامعة طرابلس وعدد من الجامعات الليبية. حصل على الشهادة الجامعية والماجستير من ليبيا، وشهادة في تعليم اللغة الإنجليزية من جامعة سري البريطانية (Surrey)، ودرس برنامج الدكتوراه في جامعة إيسيكس ببريطانيا (Essex). قام بنشر ستة كتب والعديد من المقالات والدراسات والأبحاث. orcid.org/0000-0003-3931-9484

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