Motivational Regulation and FL Learning

We believe that students’ ability to regulate motivation should play an important role in academic learning. Likewise, motivational regulation is particularly important for FL learning, such as English learning in China. Chinese students have to learn English as a compulsory course for more than ten years, from primary school to college. During such a lengthy process, motivation does not remain constant but undergoes continuous changes, as Ushioda (1996, p.240) summarizes, “within the context of institutionalized learning especially, the common experience would seem to be motivational flux rather than stability.” Demotivation is a frequent problem experienced by FL learners. At the same time, FL learning is a “sustained deep learning” (Schumann, 1998) that has different motivational characteristics from short-term activities and simpler learning tasks because in sustained learning contexts a major motivational function is to maintain the motivational impetus for a considerable period. Therefore, for FL learners, learning how to regulate their motivation in their learning process is significant. Ushioda (1996) argues that, in the face of negative affective experiences, learners “who know how to limit the motivational damage and take self-motivational initiatives will be at a considerable advantage” (p.54). Dornyei and Otto (1998) and Dornyei (2001b, 2003) also indicate the importance of self-motivation. However, the research concerning motivational regulation is limited and motivational regulation is still less explored in SRL. Furthermore, motivational regulation has not received enough attention in the field of second language acquisition (SLA). We still know little about what types of strategies FL learners adopt to deal with the motivational problems they encounter and how these motivational regulation strategies affect their learning process and ultimately achievement. Therefore, a study focusing on motivational regulation in FL learning is much needed.

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