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Motivating English learners by helping them visualise their Ideal L2 Self: Lessons from two motivational programmes

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The main objective of this paper is to explore how two different intervention programmes that were based on Dörnyei's L2 Motivational Self System succeeded in motivating Chinese university students to learn English by enhancing their vision of their Ideal L2 Self. One was a voluntary programme at a university in England, whereas the other was conducted within a compulsory credit-bearing English course at a university in Hong Kong. In spite of the differences between the two programmes, including the design of the interventions, the tasks employed, the length of the programmes and the types of students who participated in the study, the findings revealed that both programmes were effective in motivating the participants to learn English and increasing their linguistic self-confidence through strengthening their vision of their Ideal L2 Self, and making their goals clearer and more specific. Lessons learned from the two pioneering programmes and recommendations for future similar programmes will be discussed.
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Motivating English learners by helping
them visualise their Ideal L2 Self:
lessons from two motivational
programmes
Michael Magid a & Letty Chan a
a School of English Studies, The University of Nottingham,
Nottingham, UK
Available online: 06 Sep 2011
To cite this article: Michael Magid & Letty Chan (2011): Motivating English learners by helping them
visualise their Ideal L2 Self: lessons from two motivational programmes, Innovation in Language
Learning and Teaching, DOI:10.1080/17501229.2011.614693
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Motivating English learners by helping them visualise their Ideal L2
Self: lessons from two motivational programmes
Michael Magid* and Letty Chan
School of English Studies, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
(Received 4 July 2011; final version received 8 August 2011)
The main objective of this paper is to explore how two different intervention
programmes that were based on Do
¨rnyei’s L2 Motivational Self System succeeded
in motivating Chinese university students to learn English by enhancing their
vision of their Ideal L2 Self. One was a voluntary programme at a university in
England, whereas the other was conducted within a compulsory credit-bearing
English course at a university in Hong Kong. In spite of the differences between
the two programmes, including the design of the interventions, the tasks
employed, the length of the programmes and the types of students who
participated in the study, the findings revealed that both programmes were
effective in motivating the participants to learn English and increasing their
linguistic self-confidence through strengthening their vision of their Ideal L2 Self,
and making their goals clearer and more specific. Lessons learned from the two
pioneering programmes and recommendations for future similar programmes will
be discussed.
Keywords: L2 Motivational Self System; Ideal L2 Self; L2 motivation; linguistic
self-confidence; visualisation; independent language learning
Introduction
Motivating students to learn is one of the most important responsibilities and most
difficult challenges of being a teacher. According to Veenman (1984), who conducted a
review of studies which investigated the perceptions of beginning teachers with regard
to the difficulties they encounter at work, teachers ranked problems associated with
motivating students as the second most serious challenge they face after maintaining
classroom discipline. In response to this challenge, there have been some publications
on motivational strategies in the language classroom during the past 15 years (e.g.
Chang 2010; Cheng and Do
¨rnyei 2007; Do
¨rnyei and Csize´r 1998; Guilloteaux and
Do
¨rnyei 2008; Oxford and Shearin 1994), with Zolta´n Do
¨rnyei’s (2001) book offering
the most comprehensive summary of L2 (second language) motivational strategies to
date.
There are many different ways in which we can influence people’s behaviour, and
the use of imagery has been particularly effective in the fields of psychology, sports,
music and education. Imagery is defined as ‘an internal representation of a perception
*Corresponding author. Email: mmagid@hotmail.com
Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching
2011, 113, iFirst article
ISSN 1750-1229 print/ISSN 1750-1237 online
#2011 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/17501229.2011.614693
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of the external world in the absence of that external experience(Hall, Hall, and Leech
1990, 28). Hall, Hall, and Leech (1990) distinguish between scripted imagery and
guided imagery in the following manner: scripted imagery refers to a situation in which
a script on a variety of themes, especially as a stimulus for an imagined journey, is read
to an individual or group, who is usually relaxed with their eyes closed. Guided imagery
involves a person called a guide who suggests a broad theme to an individual who is
again relaxed with their eyes closed. Examples of themes could be related to a fantasy
journey such as climbing a mountain or searching for a precious object. The listener
reports their experience and the guide encourages the listener to examine specific parts
of the fantasy in a non-interpretive, non-directive way.
Guided imagery is used in psychotherapy to help patients cope with their fears (e.g.
Hall et al. 2006), sports to enhance athletesperformance (e.g. Porter 2003) and music
to help musicians gain confidence and reduce anxiety (e.g. Johnson 2003). Guided
imagery has been used directly in the area of medicine to ameliorate problems ranging
from headaches and muscular tension to serious illnesses such as cancer (e.g. Fezler
1989; Roffe, Schmidt, and Ernst 2005). Most importantly from our perspective, guided
and scripted imagery have also been used in schools as a part of social and health
education development (e.g. Hall and Hall 1988; Hall, Hall, and Leech 1990; Hornby,
Hall, and Hall 2003). Imagery is employed in subjects such as drama and art to
generate creativity and imagination. Imagery activities have also been developed
especially for L2 learners (e.g. Arnold, Puchta, and Rinvolucri 2007; Hadfield and
Do
¨rnyei forthcoming), but to our knowledge there has been no research to date that
has applied imagery within L2 motivational programmes. This paper describes two
pioneering motivational programmes in which imagery was incorporated as a key
component to motivate Chinese learners of English in England and Hong Kong.
Our paper contains four main objectives: (1) to describe the main components of
our intervention programmes, (2) to offer evidence that our programmes increased the
strength of our participantsvision of their Ideal L2 Selves, (3) to demonstrate that our
programmes effectively motivated our participants to learn English and made them
more confident in their English, and (4) to share lessons learned from implementing
our programmes as well as recommendations to language practitioners who may be
interested in designing L2 motivational programmes following a similar approach.
The L2 Motivational Self System
Our intervention programmes are novel in the sense that they contain new
motivational strategies to motivate English language learners based on the recent
theoretical approach to L2 motivation, Do
¨rnyeis L2 Motivational Self System (see
Do
¨rnyei 2005, Do
¨rnyei and Ushioda 2009, Do
¨rnyei and Ushioda 2011, and especially
Do
¨rnyei 2009), which has been widely tested and validated in a number of different
countries such as Hungary, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan and Iran (Al-Shehri 2009;
Csize´r and Kormos 2009; Ryan 2009; Taguchi, Magid, and Papi 2009). The theory
offers a synthesis of recent conceptualisations of L2 motivation (e.g. Noels 2003;
Ushioda 2001) and research in personality psychology on possible selves (e.g. Markus
and Nurius 1986).
Possible selves, especially the ideal selves and ought selves, are often called future
self-guides since they have the capacity to regulate behaviour. Tory Higgins and his
associates (e.g. Higgins 1987, 1998; Higgins, Klein, and Strauman 1985; Higgins
et al. 1994) have conducted a great deal of research which demonstrated that
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learnersideal selves act as academic self-guides. According to Higgins (1987), the
ideal self refers to the representation of the attributes that someone would ideally
like to possess (i.e. a representation of hopes, aspirations or wishes)and the ought
self is defined as the representation of the attributes that someone believes you
should or ought to possess (i.e. a representation of someones sense of your duty,
obligations or responsibilities)(Higgins 1987, 320).
The construct of L2 motivation within Do
¨rnyeis L2 Motivational Self System
consists of three main components: (1) the Ideal L2 Self is the central component
and is defined by Do
¨rnyei (2009) as the L2-specific facet of ones ideal self; (2) the
Ought-to L2 Self is defined as the attributes that one believes one ought to possess
to meet expectations and to avoid possible negative outcomes; and (3) the L2
Learning Experience involves situated, ‘‘executive’’ motives related to the immediate
learning environment and experience(Do
¨rnyei 2009, 29).
Do
¨rnyei (2009) affirms that future self-guides (i.e. ideal and ought-to self-guides)
are not merely a subset of goals although both goals and future self-guides refer to
future end-states. The difference between them is that future self-guides involve
cognitive, emotional, visual and sensory aspects whereas goals are solely cognitive in
nature. According to Do
¨rnyei and Ushioda (2011), the following nine conditions are
required in order for the future self-guides to exert their full motivational capacity:
(1) the L2 learner should have a desired future self-image, (2) the future self should be
sufficiently different from the current self, (3) a vivid and elaborate future self-image
should be available, (4) the future self-guides should be plausible, (5) the future self-
image is not perceived as comfortably certain, (6) there is harmony between the ideal
and ought selves, (7) the future self-guides are activated, (8) procedural strategies are
in place and (9) the desired self is offset by the feared self.
The intervention programmes
The intervention programme in England lasteda total of four months and consisted of
a series of four workshops focusing on English, western culture and careers as well as
two counselling sessions. The intervention programme in Hong Kong lasted three
months and consisted of six sessions which were integrated into a self-access language
learning (SALL) course as well as two language counselling sessions. Although there
were differences between the two programmes, including details about their structure,
length and the specific activities employed, they aimed at achieving the same goal and
shared some key components which will be described below.
Main activities used in the programmes
Both programmes were based on intervention programmes which had applied the
theory of possible selves in general educational contexts. The programme in England
was based on OysermansSchool-to-Jobs Programme(e.g. Oyserman 2003;
Oyserman, Bybee, and Terry 2006; Oyserman, Terry, and Bybee 2002), which was
a nine-week after-school intervention programme developed for underprivileged
African-American middle school students to enhance their abilities to imagine
themselves as successful adults and connect these future images to current school
involvement. The programme in Hong Kong was based on an intervention
programme designed by Hock and his associates (e.g. Hock, Deshler, and Shumaker
2006) to increase the academic motivation of students at an American university,
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particularly those who were having academic difficulties, by having them examine
their future and think about their goals.
Activities in England included listing goals, drawing a timeline, developing action
plans and considering feared selves. In the first workshop, the participants made a
list of their goals for their future jobs, relationships and lifestyle as well as their ideal
selves in each of those domains in order to help them create a vision of their Ideal L2
Self. They were also asked to write down the names of positive and negative role
models for each domain. In the second workshop, the participants drew a timeline
and indicated in which year they expect to achieve their various goals for their Ideal
L2 Self, including their career, relationships and lifestyle, also noting down
everything they hoped would happen. They were also asked to indicate forks in
the road to illustrate the various options they may have even if they do not achieve
their primary goals in order to make their vision of their Ideal L2 Self plausible. In
the third workshop, the participants were instructed to develop action plans to
achieve their major objectives for their Ideal L2 Selves by breaking down their
objectives into specific steps. Then, they had to decide on a date when they would
start working on their objectives, as well as when and how they would review their
progress. In the fourth workshop, the participants were asked to write about their
Feared L2 Selves by describing the kind of person they were afraid of becoming if
their English would not improve. They were also asked to write down ways in which
they could avoid becoming that kind of person. The purpose of this activity was to
offset the Ideal L2 Self with the Feared L2 Self and to make their vision of their
Feared L2 Self more clear and specific.
The intervention programme in Hong Kong was centred around an activity called
The Ideal Self Tree activity which was based on the Possible Selves Tree activity
created by Hock, Deshler, and Shumaker (2006). Firstly, the participants were briefly
introduced to the concept of ideal selves and how visualising their successful future
selves could enhance their L2 motivation. Then, they were asked to draw an Ideal
Self Tree by imagining the ideal person who they would like to become in terms of
learning English, their future career including how they dream to use English at work
and their personal life. These three domains were represented by the limbs of the tree.
The participants were also asked to draw smaller branches growing from the limbs to
indicate their action plans.
Both programmes used either scripted or guided imagery to enhance the
participantsvision of their Ideal L2 Selves by making it more elaborate and vivid.
In England, the participants listened to both positive and negative scripted imagery
situations. The negative situations were used to offset their Ideal L2 Self with their
Feared L2 Self. After the workshops in England ended, the researcher emailed the
participants a total of 23 scripted imagery situations that he had recorded for them to
listen to on a daily basis. These were scripted imagery situations that they had heard
during the workshops as well as completely new positive, negative and neutral
situations. The participants were asked to listen to either one positive or one negative
situation every day by alternating between them and they were told that they could
listen to as many of the neutral situations as often as they wished to help them
practise using their imagination. Sample 1 contains one of the positive scripted
imagery situations.
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Sample 1: The perfect job interview
Close your eyes and imagine that today is the day of a very important job interview in
a large, famous, international company that you have been dreaming of working in
for a long time. This job could be in any part of the world where you would like to
live. You have prepared very well for the interview and as you get dressed, you are
feeling really confident that you will do well. As you look at yourself in the mirror,
you are happy with how professional and mature you look.
You arrive at the company a few minutes before the interview and are feeling very
calm as you wait to be called into the bosss office. When you step into his or her
office, you can see that the boss is impressed by your business like appearance, your
friendly, confident smile and your firm handshake. He or she asks you to sit down
and starts to ask you questions. Although some of the questions are quite difficult,
you are able to use your excellent English to answer all of them extremely well. You
can see that the boss is pleased and very satisfied with all of your answers. The boss is
also impressed by your fluency, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation in English.
You show him or her that you have so much knowledge, so many skills and are highly
qualified for this job of your dreams. As the interview ends, there is no doubt in your
mind that you will get this job. Stay with this feeling of complete confidence as you
open your eyes and come back to this room.
In Hong Kong, guided imagery was used to help the participants develop their
ability to visualise their future selves by thinking of any positive situations
associated with using English well. During these guided imagery activities, the
participants were asked to imagine a scenario in which they had a positive
experience using English, such as giving a successful presentation, writing an
excellent essay or chatting in English fluently with a friend. The researcher guided
the participants to try to use all of their senses to experience the situations that they
were imagining.
Language counselling
There were two language counselling sessions in both programmes in which the
participants met with the researcher. During each counselling session in England, the
researcher asked the participants which goals they had achieved in their action plans
and which goals they were currently working on. If participants were having
difficulties in achieving certain goals, the researcher suggested strategies for them to
achieve those goals.
During the counselling sessions in Hong Kong, the participants described their
Ideal Self Tree, connected various aspects of their life such as their studies, career
and personal life to learning English and explored how English could be of use to
them in the future. They were encouraged to review their own progress in learning
English and to evaluate the reasons behind their successes or failures with regard to
learning English. Table 1 provides a summary and further information on both
programmes.
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Methodology
Both programmes described above adopted a mixed methods longitudinal design in
order to assess the motivational development of the participants and thereby the
overall effectiveness of the programmes. The participating learners in both cases were
Chinese learners of English. Refer to Table 2 for some demographic information.
Both intervention programmes employed a questionnaire that was administered
at the very beginning of the first workshop and at the end of the final workshop
drawn from Taguchi, Magid, and Papi (2009) for the programme in England and
Ryan (2009) for the programme in Hong Kong. The questions focused on the
participantsratings of the strength of their vision of their Ideal L2 Self and these
quantitative data were complemented by qualitative data obtained from three semi-
structured interviews that were conducted in each programme. These interviews were
transcribed, resulting in a corpus of nearly 300,000 words.
The interviews from both programmes were coded into categories according to
the themes identified in the preliminary analyses, such as the effect of the
programmes on the participantsmotivation towards learning English and their
confidence in their English, visualisation, as well as the effect of the activities on
vision, goals, imagination and emotions. A further in-depth analysis and categorisa-
tion was then carried out to investigate the interaction within and between the major
themes by using NVivo version 8.0. (see Magid 2011 for further details on the
statistical analyses and research methodology).
Table 1. Descriptions of the two intervention programmes.
Programme in England Programme in Hong Kong
Duration (months) 4 3
Number of workshops 4 6
Components to create
studentsL2 Selves
List of goals, Timeline,
Action plans and Feared L2
Self
Ideal Self Tree
Number of imagery
activities
Eight in-class scripted
imagery; 23 recordings of
scripted imagery
Three in-class guided imagery
with one practice session
Number of language
counselling sessions
22
Table 2. Information about the participants.
N
Average
age Ethnicity
Type of
programme Level of students
Programme
in
England
31 (14 males,
17 females)
24 Chinese Voluntary A wide variety of
courses at all
levels
Programme
in Hong
Kong
80 (50 males,
30 females)
21 Chinese Compulsory,
credit-bearing
Second-year
undergraduate
science students
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Results
Due to space limitations, we can focus here on four key aspects of our findings: how
our programmes made our participantsvision of their Ideal L2 Selves stronger,
motivated them to learn English, made them more confident in their English and
helped them to set clearer and more specific goals.
The participants’ vision of their Ideal L2 Self became stronger
There was a significant increase in the strength of the participantsvision of their
Ideal L2 Self as a result of both programmes. A paired-samples t-test was
conducted to compare the data from the pre-workshop and post-workshop
questionnaires to evaluate the impact of both intervention programmes on the
strength of the participantsvision of their Ideal L2 Self. In England, there was a
statistically significant increase in the participantsIdeal L2 Self from Time 1
(M5.30, SD 0.82) to Time 2 (M5.46, SD 0.53), t(30) 4.40, pB0.0005
(two-tailed). The mean increase in the strength of the Ideal L2 Self was 0.43. In
Hong Kong, there was also a statistically significant increase in the participants
Ideal L2 Self from Time 1 (M3.86, SD 0.82) to Time 2 (M4.16, SD 0.76),
t(80) 2.65, pB0.01 (two-tailed). The mean increase in the strength of the Ideal
L2 Self was 0.30. The eta squared statistics in both England (0.39) and Hong Kong
(0.21) indicated large effect sizes, which demonstrate the participantsvision of their
Ideal L2 Self substantially increased during the course of the programmes.
Although neither of these pioneering studies included a control group (as it would
have been very difficult to offer comparable and yet different control treatments),
these consistent results in two different contexts offer a strong indication that it is
possible to enhance L2 learnersvision of their Ideal L2 Self through visualisation
training.
Attributing the increase in the quantitative scores to the interventions was
confirmed by the qualitative data which consistently showed that the reason why the
participantsratings of their Ideal L2 Self increased from the pre-workshop
questionnaire to the post-workshop questionnaire in England was because their
confidence in their English made their vision of their Ideal L2 Self clearer and more
specific. One of the participants, named David, mentioned that for all of the
questionnaire items, If a person is confident in their English, it will be easy for them
to imagine clearly using English in their future. Since the participantsvision of their
Ideal L2 Self is their dream of the way that they want to use English, that motivates
them very much to improve their English as Becky, a participant from Hong Kong,
explains below:
I imagine speaking English like a native speaker. This has been my dream since I was
very small, so this is motivation for me to improve my English. (Becky)
In the following three sections, we will look at the qualitative data in more detail.
The programmes motivated the participants to learn English
Most of the participantsmotivation towards learning English increased as a result
of the programmes. In the programme in England, 28 out of 31 participants reported
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to exert more effort towards learning English and 25 participants devoted more time
to learning English: the average number of hours more per week that the participants
spent additionally on the study of English as a result of the programme was five
hours.
With regard to the intervention programme in Hong Kong, most of the participants
felt that the components of the programme motivated them to study English within the
SALL course. Among the group of participants who gave high ratings to the
motivational capacity of the programme, 81.3% found the counselling sessions
motivating, 68.8% thought that the visualisation activities were useful and 60.3% found
the Ideal Self Tree activity motivating. The participants in Hong Kong said that when
they imagined the guided imagery situations in which they were using English well, that
motivated them to study English hard. Jasons comment was fairly typical:
As I imagine those situations, I have motivation to work harder and improve my
English. (Jason)
Both the positive and negative scripted imagery situations in England had a
motivation-enhancing effect. This was summarised by Evan when he was asked
which of the two situations motivated him most to study English hard:
I think that both of them played an equally important role. Imagining the positive
situations makes me feel excited to study English. When I feel very satisfied with my
English, I need some pressure from negative situations to motivate me to study English.
(Evan)
It was also found that both types of scripted imagery situations had a long-term
effect on the participantsmotivation as Dan explains in the following extract:
The recordings affected me not only for a short term; not only during the session. I
always think about them, so they are in my mind. The situations affect me by motivating
me to study English harder and warning me not to be so lazy; not to do bad things to
ruin my career and my future. (Dan)
The participants became more confident in their English
The positive scripted imagery situations increased most of the participants
confidence in their English in both programmes. As is illustrated by the following
interview extract from England, there was a long-term impact from the positive
situations on Robins confidence in his English:
Listening to the positive situations gave me confidence in my English which I now feel
all the time! (Robin)
Similar to the participants in England, the participants in Hong Kong reported
that imagining situations in which they were using English well in the future gave
them confidence in their English. For example, a participant in Hong Kong named
Adam said, when referring to the situations, They give me confidence in my
English because when I dream that I am a successful guy, then I have more
confidence.
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The participants have clearer and more specific goals after the programmes
As the participantsgoals became more clear as a result of both programmes, they
felt more motivated to study English and more confident in their English. As
Sabrina, a participant in Hong Kong explained:
Imagining these situations makes my goals more clear. Once you have a clear goal, you
will get more motivated, but if your goal is not clear, then sometimes you will give up.
(Sabrina)
A participant in England named Linda said that the programme helped her to learn
how to set up her goals for learning English and for her future. As Linda explains
below, when her goals for learning English became clearer, she became more
confident in her English, which suggests a relationship between the clarity of goals
and confidence:
Once I realised that English was important and my goals for learning English became
more clear, I realised that I should grab the chance to speak English more and set up my
goals for the future. I felt more confident in my English when my goals became more
clear. (Linda)
The four future self-guide activities in the intervention programme in England
motivated the participants to learn English by making their goals for learning
English more clear and specific. The Ideal Self Tree activity in Hong Kong helped the
participants to shape their goals and break down large goals into more manageable
ones, which motivated them to study English independently. During the language
counselling sessions in both programmes, the researchers helped the participants to
reflect on their goals and make them more specific, which motivated them to study
English hard.
Main lessons learnt
Lesson 1: university students enjoy the use of imagery in language classrooms
Teachers might be apprehensive when trying new teaching and L2 motivational
strategies in the classroom, but our experience is that there is no reason to be. Even
when the researcher in Hong Kong lacked confidence in her programme, she was
surprised to find that most of her participants enjoyed the process of visualisation
very much, and commented that it was a pleasant and relaxing experience. Most of
the participants in England also enjoyed the process of using their imagination with
the aid of the scripted imagery situations. Therefore, our findings point to the
conclusion that English learners at university tend to welcome the opportunities to
learn novel L2 motivational strategies regardless of their level of English and age.
Lesson 2: most Chinese students could visualise
On the whole, the participants in our programmes found it relatively easy to visualise
situations involving themselves using English in the future. This was unexpected,
especially in mainland China since using ones imagination is not a skill that is
usually developed or encouraged within the educational system there.
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Lesson 3: conditions which enhance the effects of imagery
Condition 1: The L2 learnersbeliefs about visualisation. Learners who understood
and agreed with the rationale behind visualisation found it both enjoyable and
motivating. Therefore, it is important for teachers to explain that visualisation is an
effective L2 motivational strategy in order for L2 learners to take it seriously.
Condition 2: The L2 learnersability to visualise. The L2 learnersability to visualise
will affect how vivid and elaborate their vision of their Ideal L2 Selves will become as
well as the intensity of the emotions that will be aroused during the visualisation
process. Whether or not students have the ability to visualise situations is an
important issue because it is a pre-requisite for students to participate fully in the
visualisation activities in our programmes. If L2 learners lack the ability to use their
imagination to visualise situations, they may need their teachers to help them develop
this skill. The first section of the teachersresource books written by Arnold, Puchta,
and Rinvolucri (2007) and Hadfield and Do
¨rnyei (forthcoming) both contain
visualisation training activities that may be used in the classroom to help L2 learners
develop their imagination.
Condition 3: The L2 learnersability to concentrate. The participants in Hong Kong
mentioned that they were less able to visualise elaborate and vivid situations when
they felt tired after attending lectures for the entire day. Therefore, it is important to
choose a time for the programme during the day when the L2 learners are feeling
energetic, so that they can focus their attention on visualisation.
Recommendations
Suggestion 1: length and structure of programmes
With regard to the length of voluntary programmes, we recommend that future
intervention programmes consist of six two-hour weekly workshops. The first hour
should focus on activities that would be especially meaningful to the participants
such as English improvement or career preparation. The second part of each
workshop should focus on visualisation training and vision enhancement activities.
In terms of visualisation activities, the first two workshops could focus on activities
to stimulate and train the participantsimagination. The following two workshops
should each consist of two positive situations to build up the participants
confidence. The final two workshops should each contain one positive situation
and one negative situation to create a balance between the participantsvision of
their Ideal L2 Self and Feared L2 Self. We discovered that these types of programmes
can be effective on their own when they are delivered with additional topics that may
be of particular interest to learners of English and that they can also be incorporated
into an existing course as was done in Hong Kong.
Suggestion 2: use plausible situations in scripted imagery
The scripted imagery situations should be plausible in order to motivate the
participants and give them confidence in their English. Furthermore, the positive
situations should match the participantsgoals for learning English and the negative
10 M. Magid and L. Chan
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situations should match their Feared L2 Selves in order to motivate them to learn
English.
Suggestion 3: help L2 learners to work on plausible action plans
It takes a long period of continuous effort for L2 learners to succeed in mastering a
L2. It is important for them to see their Ideal L2 Self both in the near future and
distant future, and to develop plausible action plans accordingly. The researcher
should use the language counselling sessions to help the participants to set realistic
and specific goals along a long-term visionary pathwaytowards learning English.
Conclusion
Based on the nine conditions outlined in our literature review which are necessary in
order for the future self-guides to attain their full motivational capacity, Do
¨rnyei and
Ushioda (2011) recommended that motivational programmes which apply the L2
Motivational Self System should contain the six following components: the
programme should (1) help to create a vision of the L2 learnersIdeal L2 Self, (2)
strengthen their vision through imagery enhancement, (3) make their Ideal L2 Self
plausible, (4) help them to develop action plans, (5) keep activating their vision and
(6) counterbalancing their vision of their Ideal L2 Self by offsetting it with their
Feared L2 Self. To our knowledge, our programmes are the first ones to try to put
these recommendations into practice, and our consistent positive findings indicate
that applying these theoretical guidelines can indeed motivate learners in our cases,
Chinese university students of English by enhancing their vision of their Ideal L2
Self. This is, therefore, a potentially fruitful area of further development and we look
forward to L2 programmes being created in the future that utilise the motivational
capacity of future self-guides.
Acknowledgements
Both authors would like to express their deepest gratitude to Professor Zolta´nDo
¨rnyei for his
invaluable comments related to the content and structure of this paper and its previous
versions. The second author would like to thank Dr David Gardner for interviewing the
participants as well as his continuous support, and Ms. Rowena Wong for the extensive advice
which she generously provided. Both authors would also like to thank their participants for
their time and candour.
Notes on contributors
Michael Magid graduated with a PhD in applied linguistics from the School of English Studies
at the University of Nottingham (UK). He is currently working as an English language
pedagogy specialist and teacher trainer at the Ministry of Education in Singapore. His
research interests are in the areas of L2 motivation, sociolinguistics, teaching methodology
and materials development.
Letty Chan is a doctoral candidate in applied linguistics in the School of English Studies at the
University of Nottingham (UK). Her current research interests include the use of imagery in
the L2 classroom, the L2 Motivational Self System, faith and L2 identity and the Dynamic
Systems Theory.
Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching 11
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This article explores intersections between two subfields of second language acquisition research-learner psychology (LP) and instructed second language acquisition (ISLA). Despite the common goal of discovering second language (L2) learning processes and products, the two inquiries have taken distinct paths. We argue that it is necessary to unite the knowledge and methods in the two inquiries, in order to answer theoretical and practical questions pertaining to classroom L2 teaching and learning. We make the case that the L2 classroom may be an ideal venue to explore the intersections of the two fields. Three intersections will be discussed. First, research can address the relationship between LP and interactional behaviors during classroom activities that have been investigated in ISLA research. Second, the roles of teachers, the classroom environment, and instruction-the primary variables in ISLA research-can be examined in relation to LP in the classroom. Third, research can target LP as a dependent variable in experimental designs that ISLA research often employs. LP is a primary concern of L2 teachers who face a range of LP (unmotivated students, silent students, anxious students, etc.). Some teachers are also concerned about the potential negative impact of a certain instructional technique on LP. Thus, combining LP and ISLA perspectives helps answer various pedagogical concerns, whether these are related to particular LP issues, or the impact of instructional techniques on LP. Throughout the article, we propose future research topics and make pedagogical recommendations addressing LP in the classroom.
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