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Motivation is the psychological quality that leads people to achieve a goal. For language learners, mastery of a language may be a goal. For others, communicative competence or even basic communication skills could be a goal. In linguistics, sociolinguistics and second-language acquisition, a number of language learner motivation models have been postulated. Work by Gardner, Clément, Dörnyei, Usioda and McIntyre are perhaps most known if not all accepted.

Language is a communication coding system that can be taught as a school subject; an integral part of the individual's identity involved in almost all mental activities; the most important channel of social organization embedded in the culture of the community where it is used.

Socio-educational Models[edit]

Gardner's socio-educational model[edit]

While Gardner (1982) identified a number of factors that are involved when learning a second language (L2), it was earlier work by Gardner and Lambert (1959) of second-language acquisition: the social and cultural milieu, individual learner differences, the setting and context. In Gardner's model, one of the most influential in second-language acquisition are the four individual differences: intelligence, language aptitude, motivation, and situational anxiety.

Revised socio-education model[edit]

Gardner (2001) presents a schematic representation of this model. There are four sections, external influences, individual differences, language acquisition contexts, and outcomes. In the socio-educational model, motivation to learn the second language includes three elements. First, the motivated individual expends effort to learn the language. Second, the motivated individual wants to achieve a goal. Third, the motivated individual will enjoy the task of learning the language.

Role of motivation in language learning[edit]

Integrative Motivation: Crookes & Schmidt (1991) identified as the learner's orientation with regard to the goal of learning a second language. It means that learner's positive attitudes towards the target language group and the desire to integrate into the target language community. Instrumental Motivation: Hudson (2000) characterised the desire to obtain something practical or concrete from the study of a second language. Instrumental motivation underlies the goal to gain some social or economic reward through L2 achievement.

Another kind of motivation is when the learner feels motivated by the engagement they feel in the activity itself, when it is at the exact level of difficulty that they feel that they can cope with.[1]

Integrative Motivation from the Socio-Educational Model[edit]

The one who is integratively motivated to learn the second language has a desire to identify with another language community, and tends to evaluate learning situation positively and accurately.


Transformative motivation in second-language learning[edit]

The Case of K'naan, In this study, Hashi argues that unlike the traditional motivational types in second-language learning, second-language learners may be driven by a desire that transcends survival goals; they may seek to learn and use the language for self-empowerment or to transform some aspect of their life.

Social psychological model[edit]

Clément (1980) The adult learner needs pressure and desperation to learn the language fast.

Process model[edit]

Dörnyei (2001) Ushioda (2003)

Components of foreign language learning motivation (Dörnyei, 1994)[edit]

Language Level:Integrative Motivational Subsystem;Instrumental Motivational Subsystem. Learner Level:Need for Achievement;Self-Confidence:Language Use Anxiety, Perceived L2 Competence, Causal Attributions, Self-Efficacy. Learning Situation Level:Course-Specific Motivational Components:Interest, Relevance, Expectancy, Satisfaction;Teacher-Specific Motivational Components:Affiliative Motive, Authority Type, Direct Socialisation of Motivation; Group-Specific Motivational Components:Goal-orientedness, Norm & Reward System, Group Cohesion, Classroom Goal Structure.

Framework of motivation in language learning (Williams and Burden, 1997)[edit]

Internal factors[edit]

Intrinsic interest of activity
  • arousal of curiosity
  • optimal degree of challenge
Perceived value of activity
  • personal relevance
  • anticipated value of outcomes
  • intrinsic value attributed to the activity
Sense of agency
  • locus of causality
  • locus of control RE process and outcomes
  • ability to set appropriate goals
  • feelings of competence
  • awareness of developing skills and mastery in a chosen area
  • self-efficacy
  • realistic awareness of personal
  • strengths and weaknesses in skills required
  • personal definitions and judgements of success and failure
  • self-worth concern learned helplessness
Attitudes language learning in general
  • to the target language
  • to the target language community and culture
Other affective states
  • confidence
  • anxiety, fear
Developmental age and stage

External factors[edit]

Significant others
  • parents
  • teachers
  • peers
The nature of interaction with significant others
  • mediated learning experiences
  • the nature and amount of feedback
  • rewards
  • the nature and amount of appropriate praise
  • punishments, sanctions
The learning environment
  • comfort
  • resources
  • time of day, week, year
  • size of class and school
  • class and school ethos
The broader context
  • wider family networks
  • the local education system
  • conflicting interests
  • cultural norms
  • societal expectations and attitudes.


Motivation often performs two important characters in second language learning process; it firstly arouses people’s interest and secondly helps people keep their enthusiasm. Actually, other elements assumed of second language learning are all affected by motivation in different levels. The theories of motivation simply explain the basic question of why humans behave in a way, and why people do things. From different psychological perspectives, whatever people do, there are reasons, and these reasons represent the motivation theories. So it is the amount of motivation theories which cause confusion, rather than psychology per se. Motivation to learn a second language is complex and may differ from person to person and from situation to situation.

Willingness to communicate[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Clément, R. (1980). Ethnicity, Contact and Communicative Competence in a Second Language in H. Giles, W.p. Robinson & P.M. Smith (Eds.) Language: Social psychological perspective. Toronto: Pergamon Press.
  • Crookes, G., & Schmidt R. W. (1991). Motivation:Reopening the research agenda. Language Learning, 41(4), 469–512.
  • Dörnyei, Z. (1994). Understanding L2 Motivation: On with the Challenge! The Modern Language Journal, 78, 515–523.
  • Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Teaching and researching motivation. London: Longman. (pages 85–100, the 'Process Model').
  • Gardner, R.C. (1982). Language attitudes and language learning. In E. Boudhard Ryan & H. Giles, Attitudes towards language variation (pp. 132–147). Edward Arnold.
  • Gardner, R.C. (2001). Language Learning Motivation: the Student, the Teacher, and the Researcher. Texas Papers in Foreign Language Education, 6, 1–18.
  • Gardner, R.C. & Lambert, W.E. (1959). Motivational Variables in Second-Language Acquisition. Canadian Journal of Psychology 13: 266–272.
  • Hudson, G. (2000). Essential introductory linguistics. Blackwell Publishers.
  • MacIntyre, P.D., Clément, R., Dörnyei, Z., & Noels, K.A. (1998). Conceptualizing willingness to communicate in an L2: A situational model of L2 confidence and affiliation. The Modern Language Journal, 82 (4), 545–562.
  • Tremblay, P.F., Gardner, R.C. (1995). Expanding the Motivation Construct in Language Learning. The Modern Language Journal, 79 (4), 505–520.
  • Usioda, E. (2003). Motivation as a socially mediated process. In Little, D., Ridley, J. & Ushioda, E. (Eds), Learner autonomy in the foreign language classroom: Teacher, learner, curriculum and assessment (pp. 90–102). Dublin: Authentik.
  • Dörnyei,Zoltán (1998), Survey Article: Motivation in second and foreign language learning.Cambridge University Press

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation_in_second-language_learning — Please support Wikipedia.
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