Studies on L2 Motivation

L2 motivation research has been a productive field of study in L2 research. The best-known constructs concerning motivation for L2 learning are those of integrative and instrumental motivation, based on the work of Gardner and his colleagues (Gardner, 1985; Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Gardner & MacIntyre, 1991; Gardner & Tremblay, 1994). An instrumental orientation results from recognition of the practical advantages of learning the target language and is identified when learners say that they want to learn the target language to pass examinations or for economic or social advancement. An integrative orientation is identified when learners say that they want to learn the target language because they are attracted to the target language culture or group, or to the language itself. Integrative orientation thus deals with the individual’s desire for cultural or linguistic integration (Oxford, 1996). Gardner and MacIntyre (1992, 1993) considered integrative and instrumental orientations as independent of each other; although they could be treated as two separate variables. Gardner and his associates believed integrative orientation would be a better predictor of eventual proficiency than would instrumental orientation.

Gardner’s model of language learning motivation focuses on integrative motivation as the primary and most important type of language learning motivation. However, this focus has been questioned (e.g., Dornyei, 1990; Oxford, 1993). First, some researchers disagreed with the premise that integrative motivation is the primary determinant in L2 learning, in the EFL context in particular (Crookes & Schmidt, 1991; Dornyei,

1990; Horwitz, 1990; Oxford, 1993). Horwitz (1990) suggested that instrumental orientation was more predictive than integrative orientation for L2 success for the Filipino while integrative orientation had a stronger influence than instrumental orientation for the English-speaking Canadian. Dornyei (1990) found that instrumental motivation might be more significant than integrative motivation for FL learners. He proposed that instrumental goals contribute importantly to motivation for FL learners more than for L2 learners. The other reason is that Gardner’s motivation construct does not include details of cognitive aspects of motivation to learn, which is precisely the direction in which educational psychological research on motivation has been moving (Dornyei, 1994). Cognitive theories of motivation view motivation to be a function of a person’s thoughts rather than of some instinct, need, drive, or state (Dornyei, 1994). Since the 1990s, a number of SLA researchers (e.g., Brown, 1990, 1994; Clement, Dornyei, & Noels, 1994; Crookes & Schmidt, 1991; Dornyei, 1990, 1994; Oxford & Shearin, 1994; Tremblay & Gardner, 1995; Williams & Burden, 1997) have attempted to reopen the motivational research agenda by advocating modifications to Gardner’s social- educational model of language learning motivation and introducing new concepts rooted in other areas of psychology.

Dornyei (1994) produced a more general framework of L2 motivation by integrating the various issues suggested by other research. Three levels of motivation were distinguished in this new framework: the language level, the learning level, and the learning-situation level. The three levels of motivation match the three basic components of the L2 learning process, such as the target language, the language learner, and the language-learning environment, and also reflect the three different aspects of language, such as the social dimension, the personal dimension and the educational subject matter dimension (Dornyei, 1996). Moreover, Tremblay and Gardner (1995) conducted a study involving 75 Canadian students learning French by expanding the social-educational model to include new components from expectancy-value and goal theories in L2 learning motivation. In addition, Williams and Burden (1997) attempted to summarize the motivational components related to L2 instruction and developed a framework with two categories of motivational factors: internal factors and external factors. However, they did not provide the directional relationships between the two components.

A more recent line of investigation of motivation is the temporal dimension of motivation, that is, the way in which motivational processes happen in time. Examples of a process-oriented conception in L2 motivation research include the separation of the ignition of motivation from the process of sustaining motivation by Williams and Burden (1997) and Ushioda’s (1998, 2001) analysis of how new motivational orientations evolve while the learner is engaged in the L2 leaning process. The most complex process-oriented construct in the L2 field has been put forward by Dornyei and Otto (1998). Dornyei and Otto (1998) pointed out problems in the existing models of L2 motivation, for example, these models did not provide a sufficiently comprehensive and detailed summary of all the relevant motivational influences on classroom behavior, played down the importance of motivational sources of executing goal-directed behavior, and gave insufficient attention to the fact that motivation is not static but dynamically evolving and changing in time. Therefore, they developed a “process model of L2 motivation.” The development of this model was also inspired by “action control theory” (Heckhausen & Kuhl, 1985; Kuhl, 1985, 1987, 1992) that emphasizes the distinction of separate, temporally ordered action phases, introducing a “temporal perspective that begins with the awakening of a person’s wishes prior to goal setting and continues through the evaluative thoughts entertained after goal striving has ended” (Gollwitzer, 1990, p.55). The process model of L2 motivation contains two dimensions: action sequence and motivational influences. Action sequence represents the behavioral process whereby initial wishes, hopes, and desires are first transformed into goals, then into intentions, leading eventually to action and, hopefully, to the accomplishment of the goals, after which the process is submitted to final evaluation. Motivational influences include all the energy sources and motivational forces that underlie and fuel the behavioral process. The two dimensions of action sequence and motivational influences work in three phases: preactional phase, actional phase, and postactional phase. The preactional phase is made up of three subphases, goal setting, intention formation, and the initiation of intention enactment. The actional phase concerns the implementation of action (executive motivation) and is divided into three basic processes: subtask generation and implementation, a complex ongoing appraisal process, and the application of a variety of action control mechanisms. The action control denotes “those processes which protect a current intention from being replaced should one of the competing tendencies increase in strength before the intended action is completed” (Dornyei & Otto, 1998, p.50). The postactional phase entails these processes of evaluating the accomplished action outcome and contemplating possible inferences to be drawn for future actions.

The most recent perspective of motivation, that is, the process-oriented approach to motivation, is particularly useful because it allows researchers to discuss both preactional “choice motivation” and “executive motivation” during the actional phase in a unified framework. This perspective also fits in well with the recent emphasis placed on the study of student self-regulation (Dornyei, 2001b). The action-control mechanisms in the process model of L2 motivation can be seen as a subclass of self-regulatory strategies concerning learners’ self-motivating function. Therefore, the processes of the action control in the process model of L2 motivation are similar to the processes concerning regulating motivation in SRL.

We can see that motivational theories from educational psychology, especially cognitive motivation, are very influential for expanding the conceptualization of L2 motivation. Cognitive views of motivation are not limited to explaining students’ selection of particular goals or their choice of activities or behaviors but rather extend into the activities associated with completing a task to understand, explain, and predict students’ quality or intensity of engagement and ongoing persistence at a task (Graham & Weiner, 1996; Pintrich & Schrauben, 1992). Theoretical accounts of self-efficacy, interest, and goal orientations, for instance, propose to explain students’ level of cognitive engagement and ongoing effort at academic tasks and not just their selection of particular goals (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Cognitive aspects of motivation are also key factors that influence the extent to which learners are ready to regulate their own learning. Conceptions of self-efficacy and goal orientation have been used by L2 researchers (e.g., Dornyei, 2003; Dornyei & Otto, 1998; Magogwe & Oliver, 2007; Oxford & Shearin, 1994; Tremblay & Gardner, 1995; Zhang, 2004). However, cognitive aspects of motivation have been less investigated in SLA and should be given more attention. Another aspect that needs further enquiry is that of the dynamic nature of motivation. The importance of motivation in language learning has been established. However, motivation is not static but dynamically evolving and changing. A lack of motivation is a frequent problem experienced by language learners, especially FL learners. FL learning is an effortful process and is fraught with obstacles that are likely to interfere with students maintaining an adaptive level of motivation. in view of this, students’ ability to maintain or increase their adaptive level of motivation to facilitate their learning is likely to be an important determinant of their SRL and achievement.

This section gives an overview of the development of motivation study in L2 learning. In Chap. 2, two types of motivational belief have been highlighted, that is, self-efficacy and academic-goal orientation. They are the variables investigated in the empirical study on motivational regulation reported in Chap. 5. Therefore, studies about self-efficacy and academic- goal orientation in FL learning are reviewed next.

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