Ushioda slides

Motivation and identity in
language learning:
current perspectives
Ema Ushioda
Centre for Applied Linguistics
University of Warwick
 ‘given motivation, it is inevitable that a human
being will learn a second language, if he is
exposed to the language data’ (Corder 1967:
 Four decades of change since then …
globalisation and global spread of English
 Language motivation theory only recently
catching up with these changes …
What does ‘integrative motivation’
mean now?
 Reflecting ‘a sincere and personal interest in
the people and culture represented by the
other group’ (Gardner & Lambert 1972: 132)
 Strong versus weak forms
 The case of English as global language
(Crystal 2003) and English as basic
educational skill (Graddol 2006) – who is the
target reference group?
 Critical voices: Pavlenko (2002), CoetzeeVan Rooy (2006)
Re-theorising language motivation
 ‘international posture’ (Yashima 2002, 2009)
 Theoretical shift of focus to internal domain of
self and identity
 Dörnyei & Csizér 2002; Dörnyei et al. 2006
 Theory of possible selves (Markus & Nurius
 L2 Motivational Self System (Dörnyei 2005,
2009): ideal and ought-to selves
 Motivation and identity (Lamb 2004, 2009)
Motivation and identity:
language learners as people
 Motivation theory has tended to focus on
models and learners as abstractions
 Limitations of linear models: Sean’s story …
 Current shift in focus to self and identity 
need to address real social identities people
bring to the language classroom
 ‘Understanding second language learners as
people’ (Lantolf & Pavlenko 2001)
 Person-in-context relational view of
motivation (Ushioda 2009)
Person-in-context relational view of
motivation (Ushioda 2009)
A focus on real persons, rather than on learners as
theoretical abstractions; a focus on the agency of the
individual person as a thinking, feeling, human being,
with an identity, a personality, a unique history and
background; a person with goals, motives and
intentions; a focus on the interactions between this
self-reflective agent, and the fluid and complex web
of social relations, activities, experiences and multiple
micro- and macro-contexts in which the person is
embedded, moves and is inherently part of. We need
to take a relational (rather than linear) view of these
multiple contextual elements and see motivation as
an organic process that emerges through the
complex system of interrelations.
Insights from autonomy
theory & practice
 A concern with the learner as a fully rounded
person, with a social identity, situated in a
particular context (Riley 2003:239)
 Encourage Ss to develop and express their own
identities through the language they are learning
 Legenhausen 1999: comparing conversation
practice in traditional communicative vs
autonomous classrooms
German students in traditional communicative
classroom (Legenhausen 1999)
S: How old are you?
A: I’m twelve years old. And you?
S: Eleven.
A: Ehm. Do you live in a house or in a flat?
S: I live in a house in Olfen.
A: I live in a flat in Olfen, too. (..) Ehm, eh.
S: What’s your telephone number?
A: My telephone number is three five seven five, and
what’s your tele / telephone number?
S: My telephone number is ehm three two two two (..)
A: Ah, ah, do you like school?
S: Yes, sometimes.
Danish students in ‘autonomous’ classroom
(Legenhausen 1999)
C: What shall we talk about?
M: I don’t know. What do you think?
C: Ah, we could talk about yesterday.
M: Ok.
C: [What did you?]
M: [What did you?] (laughing)
M: What did you do?
C: Well, I went home from school, and I write (..) some some
music for my music group.
M: Yeah.
C: We shall play here Friday, after school, we have (..)
borrowed a a room with drums and guitars, and so (..)
we’re going to (..) record a tape, with our songs.
M: How many are you in your group?
Speaking as themselves: motivation &
transportable identities
 Richards 2006: analysis of classroom talk
(drawing on Zimmerman 1998)
situated identities (T – S, doctor – patient)
discourse identities (initiator, questioner …)
transportable identities (mother of two, keen
tennis player, avid science fiction fan)
 Motivational impact of invoking Ss’ own
transportable identities in classroom talk
And the motivational consequences of
not orienting to Ss’ own transportable identities
in the language classroom …?
Student: I am feeling bad. My grandfather he die
last week and I am …
Teacher: No – not die – say died because it’s in
the past
(Scrivener 1994:19)
Motivation, transportable identities &
future possible selves
 Future possible selves (ideal & ought-to
selves) can have strong psychological reality
in the current imaginative experiences of
learners (Dörnyei 2009)
 Engaging Ss’ transportable identities and
‘selves’ through L2 use now  may help
them imagine future possible selves as L2

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