Motivation, a Driving Force in Second language
A research paper submitted for MA TESOL with
the University of Manchester, UK
TESL 2012: Shazia Nawaz Awan
Research on motivation
My two cents
New emerging goals
Future Implications
Paths L2 learners take..
Improving English from communication oriented proficiency (Evening and LINC
classes) to professional oriented proficiency
Improving specific language or language functions needed for the workplace (ESP)
Improving English Language proficiency and score to get into university programs
The Focus
Research study on women ESL learners in Canada whose first
language is Arabic
Two different scenarios - academic and non-academic.
The qualitative research design using two data resources:
Questions needed to be answered!!
The study focuses on finding answers to the following questions:
What motivates immigrant women (in Canada), whose first
language is Arabic, to learn English as a second language?
How and whether their motivational orientations change over a
period of time?
Just a Caution!!
The results of this research are not meant to generalize the
typical language learning behaviors of the whole group.
However, the study provides a valuable insight into certain
aspects of second language learning behaviors and can be
helpful in many ways.
What is motivation…general concept
“The reason why somebody does something or behaves in a
particular way” (OALD*)
Motivation to learn a second language, not as a ‘trait’, but as a
‘characteristic’ of an individual
“It is relatively stable, because of its presumed antecedents, but it is
amenable to change under certain conditions.” (Gardner, 2006:2) .
*Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary Online
What Researchers say!
It is dynamic…
Dornyei (2. 2001:9):
“In a general sense, motivation can be defined 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.”
(Dornyei & Otto 1998:65, cited in Dornyei 2001:9)
What Researchers say!
Social Dimension of ESL motivation…
“Second Language learning motivation has an inherent social
dimension, and that is why it is different than learning other school
subjects. While rules of grammar or lexical items can be taught
explicitly, it is also socially and culturally bound.” Dornyei (2003:3-4),
What Researchers say!
Positive Attitude:
The more the learner has a positive attitude towards the target
language and the culture, the higher is the achievement.
Motivation, a driving force:
“The motivated individual is goal directed, expends effort, is
persistent, is attentive, has desires (wants), exhibits positive affect, is
aroused, has expectancies, demonstrates self-confidence (selfefficacy), and has reasons (motives)”
(Gardner, 2006)
Integrative and instrumental constructs:
are inseparable in nature
come to the surface with passing time
change and alter
modify with successful language experience
facilitate new set of goals
Integrative and instrumental goalsmutually influencing each other
upgrade their personal and professional profile
reduce the social and psychological distance with the target
language group by uplifting social status through linguistic
enhance self confidence and competence
change learners’ attitude towards language and culture
The application of theories of motivational orientations to
the context
“Arab-Canadian male students are primarily instrumentally motivated
towards learning English as L2, while Arab-Canadian female
students are integratively motivated.” Abu-Rabia (1995:323)
Acculturation Theory
Schumann uses two key concepts to explain the attitude
of the minority group learning second language in multiethnic settings (1978 in Dornyei , 2001).
psychological distance.
Steps to acculturation
Seminars, presentations, and workshops
Local festivals and events (multicultural potlucks, Halloween,
blueberry/strawberry/apple picking, Natal Day parades, etc.).
Field trips
These factors affect their attitude to learn the language of the
target culture and help them set their personal goals for their
enhanced inter-ethnic contacts.
L2 learning requires inclusion of a wide range of social elements:
language globalization
language contact
power relations between different ethno-linguistic groups
Dornyei (2003:4) refers to Gardner (1979, cited in Dornyei, 2003) and Williams ( 1994, cited in Dornyei,2003)
Factors influencing acculturation
Length of residence in the target language area,
The amount of anxiety experienced in the new environment,
Personal goals for learning the target language (motivational
orientations/integrative and/or instrumental),
Egoistic rigidity of every individual
Research Method
Controlled Information
One point of time
Close-ended questionnaire
Case Study
Detailed description
Longitudinal Approach
Extended period of time
What I did for my research?
Needs assessment surveys
Goal orientation workshops
Semi structured interviews
Semi formal email communications, and
Placement tests or official language benchmark assessment
Why I did it this way..
Semi structured interviews
helped elicit additional information and more detailed
personalized answers through open-ended questions rather
than choosing from a set of provided answers (surveys/closeended questions).
In-class observations
helped collect data of ‘participants’ behavior and actions’ and
reactions in the learning context (Mackey & Gass (2005:176)
Attitudinal orientations
Goal orientation, and self efficacy’ etc.
What happened next..
Two types of Interviews
Intake Interviews
Results of the intake interviews demonstrated that more learners were interested
in improving their listening and speaking skills in order to be able to communicate
with the English speaking society.
In-class observations
Final Interviews
Participants’ profile
Setting One: Non-Academic
six adult female (women) Arab immigrants.
one to eight years of stay in Canada
wide range of age group of 27-55 years.
immigrated to Canada under the ‘family class’ category with
their spouses and children.
speak Arabic as their first language at home.
Participants’ profile
Setting Two: Academic
Adult female prospective students with Arabic language background
The duration of their stay in Canada ranges from one week to 18
Participants belong to the age group of 18-27 years.
Most of them came to Canada under the ‘student visa’ category
All of the learners speak Arabic as their first language at home.
Both integrative and instrumental constructs of motivation
were found.
The two orientations, however, appeared inseparable.
Change in psychological attitude to the local language
and culture was observed.
The passing time results in wider interaction and deeper
Successful language learning process helps them aim at
a new set of goals.
New goals emerging
The ESL competence helps learners in goal orientation and
goal setting. These goals may be related to
achieving language competence for their social integration
moving upward into the target language culture and
seeking jobs or upgrading professional qualification
understanding their needs better and adjust their goals
Implications for Future Practice
learners need to adopt a more positive attitude towards the target
language and culture
learning environment and the pedagogical techniques must be
tailored towards attaining higher level of success.
learning environment should also be supportive of giving the learners
more awareness of ESL development
language teacher should have better understanding of the difficulties
and challenges learners are usually faced with
teaching materials should raise help meeting the L2 learners’ needs
in terms of language development, cultural understanding, and goal
Abu-Rabia, S. (1995). Attitudes and cultural background and their relationship to English in a
multicultural social context: the case of male and female Arab immigrants in Canada. Educational
Psychology. Vol. 15 (3) 323
Dornyei. Z. (2003) refers to Gardner (1979, cited in Dornyei, 2003) and Williams ( 1994, cited in
Dornyei, Z. (2003). Attitudes, orientations, and motivations in language learning: Advances in Theory,
Research, and Applications University of Nottingham.
Dornyei, Z. (2001) Teaching and Researching Motivation. London: Pearson Education Limited, 13
Gardner, R. C. (2006). Motivation and second language acquisition. University of Western Ontario. This
manuscript was the basis of an address by the author to the Seminario Sobre. Plurilingüismo: Las
Aportaciones Del Centro Europeo de Lenguas Modernas de Graz, on December 15, 2006 at the
Universidad de Alcalá, Spain.
Mackey,A. & Gass, S.M. (2005) Second Language Research. Lawrence Erlbaum: Mahwah, New Jersey.
Schumann, J. H. (1978). The acculturation model for second language acquisition. In Gingras, R. (Ed.)
Second language acquisition and foreign language teaching. Centre for Applied Linguistics, Arlington,
VA. 27-107 in Dornyei, Z. (2001) Teaching and Researching Motivation. London: Pearson Education
Limited, 13

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