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Evolution of L2 motivation: Looking back and looking forward



This presentation surveys the different stages that the L2 motivation field has passed through to date. This presentation sets the scene for the following presentations in this symposium.
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
Jubail Industrial College, KSA
PLL3, Tokyo
Gardner was influenced by a number of 20th scholars: Arsenian, Marckwardt,
Nida, Whyte, and Holmberg
Collaborating with his supervisor Wallace E. Lambert (1922 2009)
Challenged the then-prevalent assumption:
intelligence and aptitude are the primary factors in successful L2 learning
Replaced it with the assumption:
Learning an L2 is different from other school subjects because L2 learning
additionally requires openness to the L2 group and willingness to adopt
features from it.
Phase 1: Ancient History (19451972)
Covers the above early researchers as well as Gardner’s MA and PhD work
and later research included in Gardner and Lambert (1972).
Gardner, R. C. (1958) Social factors in second-language acquisition. Master’s
thesis, McGill University.
Gardner, R. C. (1960) Motivational variables in second-language acquisition.
Doctoral dissertation, McGill University.
Phase 2: Early History (1970s to early 1980s)
Gardner and P. C. Smythe obtained funding to establish the Language
Research Group at the University of West Ontario, and conducted studies
across Canada.
Phase 3: Modern History (1980s)
This is when Gardner and his graduate students continued research after the
Language Research Group was disbanded.
Higher achievement: Integratively motivated learners consistently achieve
higher grades than those who are not so motivated.
Classroom behavior: Integratively motivated learners volunteer more
frequently in the L2 class, give correct answers more often, and seem more
satisfied at the end of the class. This pattern could not be explained away by
other factors, such as teachers’ differential treatment.
Persistence in L2 studies: Integrative motivation is a better predictor of re-
enrolment in the L2 class than is aptitude.
More autonomy: Learners who opt for self-instructional courses are more
integratively motivated than are learners who prefer regular courses.
Rate of learning: Integratively motivated students learn significantly faster
than do students with low integrative motivation.
Length of learning: Integratively motivated learners spend more time
studying than do instrumentally motivated ones, who quit once the reward is
no longer available.
Lower Anxiety: Integratively motivated learners report less state anxiety
during learning.
Participation in excursion programs: Integrative motivation has an influence
on learner’s decision to take part in excursion programs into areas where the
L2 is spoken, and on behavior while there.
Attrition after learning: Integrative motivation has a negative effect on
attrition, and this effect is mediated by initial achievement and subsequent
Mediating the effect of personality: Both integrative motivation and aptitude
mediate the effect of personality on L2 achievement.
Language-specificity: Integrative motivation is language-specific, in that the
learning benefits described above are specific to the language that the
learner is integratively motivated to learn, and do not generalize to other
Application to L1: Learners who show more integrative motivation in relation
to their own L1 are also more successful in advanced L1 studies.
Application to foreign language contexts: Because some of this research
was conducted in Canadian provinces that are predominantly monolingual,
Gardner argued that the results are therefore generalizable to foreign
language contexts. Gardner (2010, Chap. 7) reviewed research that was
conducted in different countries around the world, and that also supported
his model. These countries include Brazil, Croatia, Japan, Poland, Romania,
and Spain.
“acquisition involves making the language part of the self” (Gardner, 2010, p. 7).
“does not just link variables together but describes a process” (Gardner, 2010, p. 59).
“this is a dynamic model, not static. We hypothesized that students would change
over the course of the year and over the years, and that some of these changes
could be attributed to the learning experiences while others would be dependent
on various environmental and developmental factors. The process reflected in this
model is parsimonious and direct. Both the cultural and the educational setting can
have profound effects on the student’s success in learning a second language.”
(Gardner, 2010, p. 46)
“In this way the socio-educational model is dynamic, describing how changes in
individual difference variables occur over time(MacIntyre, 2002, p. 49)
“We hold the view that motivation is best explained as a complex and dynamic
process with room for several intervening variables (Gardner & Tremblay, 1994a, p.
“we have maintained the approach that motivation is dynamic in that it involves a
sequence of events, influences, or responses” (Gardner & Tremblay, 1994b, p. 526)
Gardner (2010, p. 26):
It is not intended to provide explanations to individual teachers as to why or why
not some of their students are more or less successful than others, or to give
teachers advice on how to motivate their students, or to provide reasons to
students to help them understand their own success or lack thereof. It is a model
to account for general relationships in a parsimonious and testable structure that
is subject to verification and replication.
According to Dörnyei & Ryan (2015)
Social-psychological period
Cognitive-situated period (educational period)
Socio-dynamic period
Areas with potential interest (Al-Hoorie, 2017):
Long-term motivation
English vs. other languages
Unconscious motivation
Dörnyei (2009, p. 195):
I have come to believe that the key area where the traditional ID view must
be reformed is the need to accept that individual variation is not so much a
function of the strength of any individual determinant (e.g. aptitude or
motivation) as the way by which the complex system of all the relevant
factors works together.
“the greatest omission” “emotional deficit” (Dörnyei & Ryan, 2015, 910)
“in the shadows” of language learning discussions (Garrett & Young, 2009, p. 209),
“fundamentally important motivators” (MacIntyre, Mackinnon, & Clément, 2009, p. 47)
“the fundamental basis of motivation” (MacIntyre, 2002, p. 45),
The elephant in the room: “The relationship between cognition and emotion is,
minimally, interdependent; maximally, they are inseparable/integrated” (Swain, 2013)
Special issue on emotions at SSLLT (Dewaele & Li 2018)
3 anthologies in the same year on positive psychology (Gabryś-Barker & Gałajda,
2016; Gkonou, Tatzl, & Mercer, 2016; MacIntyre, Gregersen, & Mercer, 2016)
Long-term motivation
Longitudinal designs are a minority in the language motivation literature, while
the majority of research is cross-sectional (Sugita McEown et al., 2014).
An interesting exception to the lack of research on long-term motivation is the
recent development of the notion of Directed Motivational Currents (DMCs,
Dörnyei, Henry, & Muir, 2016; Ibrahim & Al-Hoorie, in press)
SLA: “the processes by which school-aged children, adolescents, and adults learn and
use, at any point in life, an additional language, including second, foreign, indigenous,
minority, or heritage languages” (The Douglas Fir Group, 2016, p. 19) as well as sign
languages (Woll & Adam, 2012).
Multilingual turn (e.g., Conteh & Meier, 2014; May, 2014).
Beyond multilingualism: Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of heteroglossia to refer to the
simultaneous use of multiple language forms and signs and the ensuing conflicts among
them (e.g., Bailey, 2012),
Boo et al.’s (2015): the motivation to learn English was by far more predominant than
research into all other languages combined. Research on minority languages “remains
marginalized, underfunded, and often an after-thought” (Leeman & King, 2015, p. 211).
Special issue on LOTEs MLJ
Carol Chapelle: “the bond between technology and language use in the modern
world should prompt all language professionals to reflect on the ways in which
technology is changing the profession of English language teaching in particular, and
applied linguistics as a whole” (Chapelle, 2003, p. 1).
Authenticity gap: experiences outside the classroom are much more stimulating
thanks to technology and gaming (Henry, 2013). Native speakers are now virtually
present, blurring the line between second and foreign language contexts.
The inevitable conclusion from the changing face of today’s language learning
(Richards, 2015) is that a new type of student” is emerging (Henry, 2013, p. 138).
Ushioda (2011): technology can harness the learners’ transportable identities, or latent
dimensions of one’s identity that can be invoked in interaction, such as the teacher
being a cat lover or the student being a fan of Manchester United. Drawing from the
identities learners develop through technology would encourage them to engage
more genuinely in target-language communications in the classroom.
implicit attitudes (Petty, Fazio, & Briñol, 2009)
implicit prejudice and stereotypes (Levinson & Smith, 2012)
implicit motives (Schultheiss & Brunstein, 2010)
implicit self-concept (Briñol, Petty, & Wheeler, 2006)
implicit self-determination (Keatley, Clarke, Ferguson, & Hagger, 2014)
implicit self-regulation (Koole, McCullough, Kuhl, & Roelofsma, 2010).
It is clear that language motivation researchers would benefit from exploring
‘the other side’ of their constructs as well (Al-Hoorie, 2016a, 2016b)
Dornyei & Ryan (2015, p. 102):
the mood of enthusiasm and openness to innovation that is reflected by this
diversity promises an exciting and hopefully productive research environment
for the next decade. On the other hand, this diversification and expansion also
pose the risk that motivation researchers will no longer speak the same
language and that the emerging methodological multilingualism might
introduce a degree of fragmentation.
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