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Motivation , a Driving Force in Second language Learning. A research paper submitted for MA TESOL with the University of Manchester, UK. Outline!!. Overview Background Research on motivation My two cents Findings New emerging goals Future Implications. Paths L2 learners take.

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motivation a driving force in second language learning

Motivation, a Driving Force in Second language Learning

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
PathsL2 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) (EWP)
  • Improving English Language proficiency and score to get into university programs (EAP)

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
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
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
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
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 say1
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 say2
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 (self-efficacy), and has reasons (motives)”

(Gardner, 2006)

integrative and instrumental constructs
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 goals mutually influencing each other
Integrativeand instrumental goals-mutually 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 improvement.
  • enhance self confidence and competence
  • change learners’ attitude towards language and culture
the a pplication of theories of motivational o rientations to the context
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 integrativelymotivated.”Abu-Rabia (1995:323)

acculturation theory
Acculturation Theory

Schumann uses two key concepts to explain the attitude of the minority group learning second language in multi-ethnic settings (1978 in Dornyei , 2001).


psychological distance.

steps to acculturation
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
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
Research Method

Quantitative Close-ended questionnaire

Controlled Information

One point of time

Qualitative Case Study

Detailed description

Longitudinal Approach

Extended period of time

what i did for my research
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
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/close-ended 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
What happened next..

Two types of Interviews

Intake Interviews Notes

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 Vignettes

Final Interviews Notes

participants profile
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 profile1
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 months.
  • 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 integration.

Successful language learning process helps them aim at a new set of goals.

new goals emerging
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 community
  • seeking jobs or upgrading professional qualification
  • understanding their needs better and adjust their goals accordingly
implications for future practice
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 orientation

  • 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,2003)
  • 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 SeminarioSobre. Plurilingüismo: Las Aportaciones Del Centro Europeo de LenguasModernas 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. InGingras, 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