The degree of effort people exert in approaching or avoiding experiences or goals (relative to second language learning). How do people differ in motivation, and how does that influence outcomes in second language learning?
Two main theoretical approaches to the study of motivation:
Motivation in SLA driven by “a sincere and personal interest in the people and culture represented by the other language group” -- Gardner, R. C., & MacIntyre, P. D. (1991). An Instrumental Motivation in Language Study: Who Says It Isn’t Effective? Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 13 , 57-72, p. 58.
Motivation in SLA driven by “the practical value and advantages of learning a new language” (Gardner and MacIntyre, 1991, p. 58).
The godfather of the social psychological approach in studies of motivation in SLA: Robert C. Gardner. 100s of studies with numerous collaborators, going back to the 1950s.
For a review of 75 such studies, see: Masgoret, A., & Gardner, R. (2003). Attitudes, Motivation, and Second Language a Learning: A Meta-Analysis of Studies Conducted by Gardner and Associates. Language Learning, 53 , 123–163.
Most studies of motivation from the social psychological approach use “standard” methodology for studies in affective domain: self-report data from questionnaire correlated with performance data from language test.
Gardner and MacIntyre (1991) used the Attitude / Motivation Test Battery with vocabulary test data to achieve results we might expect re: integrative and instrumental motivation.
Over the years, Gardner’s many empirical studies have informed the development of his “socio-educational model” of second language acquisition.
The model “ emphasizes that there are two primary individual difference variables involved in language learning, viz., ability [intelligence and aptitude] and motivation” -- Gardner, R.C. (2006). The socio-educational model of Second Language Acquisition: A research paradigm. EUROSLA Yearbook, 6 , 237–260, p. 241.
“ It is proposed that other things being equal, the student with higher levels of ability (both intelligence and language aptitude) will tend to be more successful at learning the language than students less endowed. Similarly, other things being equal, students with higher levels of motivation will do better than students with lower levels” (p. 241).
More specifically, Gardner “focuses on the link between three of constructs: motivation, attitudes toward the learning situation, and integrativeness (i.e., an openness to the target language group” (p. 237).
The unidirectional arrows indicate that “levels of motivation are influenced and maintained by Attitudes toward the Learning Situation and Integrativeness.” The dotted line indicates that “In some situations Instrumentality could also support motivation” (p. 245).
“ Learners demonstrate an intrinsic orientation if their rationale for engaging in a task is challenge, curiosity, learning or mastery” -- Li, D. (2006). Motivation in Second Language Acquisition in Chinese Research Students in the UK. Evaluation and Research in Education, 19 , 38–58, p. 40.
If learners’ “reasons for engaging in a task are to obtain rewards, grades or approval from others, they are considered to be extrinsically oriented” (Li, 2006, p. 40).
Li (2006) conducted a qualitative study of Chinese research students in the UK. Data were collected in semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions; the respondents were prompted to reflect on their own learning experiences.
“ Data suggest that … respondents mainly adopted extrinsic orientations. They believed that [learning English] would facilitate their current research and improve their career prospects” (p. 45).
For an excellent review of the cognitive approach in motivation studies, relative to the social psychological approach, see: Dörnyei, Zoltán. (2003). Attitudes, Orientations, and Motivations in Language Learning: Advances in Theory, Research, and Applications. Language Learning, 53 (Supplement 1), 3–32.