Critical Review on Motivation

Topics: Motivation, Language acquisition, Second language acquisition Pages: 9 (2849 words) Published: November 1, 2012
Critical Literature Review on Motivation


Many believe motivation to learn is the key element in language learning. However, if we take a look at researches in motivation, it is hard to say what motivation is. This paper begins with the definition of motivation and describes types of motivation. Then, it breaks down into parts which consist of motivation. Finally, it addresses how managers can motivate workers in workplace.


Motivation definition

Most teachers feel that motivation is a key factor in successful language learning, but what is motivation? According to many researchers, there are so many definitions of what motivation is and what isn’t. It seems somehow incomplete. In the field of second language acquisition, the concept of motivation came from social psychology. So the first purpose of this literature review is to discover the types of motivation and define the motivation in this paper.

Integrative vs Instrumental motivation

Gardner(1979, 1985; Gardner & Lambert, 1972) proposed that motivation is influenced by two orientations to language learning. An integrative orientation is typical of someone who identifies with and values the target language and community, and who approaches language study with the intention of entering that community. Such an individual is thought to have an internal, more enduring motivation for language study. Instrumentally motivated learners, on the other hand, are more likely to see language learning as enabling them to do other useful things, but as having no special significance in itself. Such learners will be motivated if they see language learning as having beneficial career prospects or something that will enable them to use transactional language with speakers of the foreign language. Based on Mowrer’s suggestion that identification and positive affect toward parents are important for first language acquisition, Gardner and Lambert (1972) suggested that individual with an integrative orientation would demonstrate greater motivational effect in learning L2, and, thus, achieve greater L2 competence. This integrative and instrumental orientation is very famous in the field of motivation, but Ely (1986) argues that it is not always easy to distinguish between integrative and instrumental motivation. A second problem he argues is whether the integrative/instrumental conceptualization captures the full spectrum of student motivation. It may be that, for a given population of second language students, there are reasons for language learning that are unrelated to either of the two motivational orientations. I agree with Ely that it is not always easy to tell one from the other. For example, there are students who don’t like to study, but they have to, because they have pressure from their parents, peers, teachers, and so forth. This is also a type of motivation which can’t belong to either of the two motivational orientations. Furthermore, Oxford & Shearin’s study (1996) on American high school students who was learning Japanese were asked to write an essay explaining their reasons for studying Japanese. Obviously many wanted to learn Japanese for integrative and instrumental reasons, however, more than two thirds of the students had additional reasons for learning Japanese that didn’t relate to either of these orientations. Some of the reasons were: receiving intellectual stimulation, seeking personal challenge, enjoying the elitism of taking a difficult language, and so on. Most interestingly, they said they thought that learning Japanese would make them more self-confidence, although that was not the reason they were choosing the language. This opinion guides us to take a look at confidence in relation to motivation in the next section.

Dornyei (1996) claims that most nations in the world are multicultural and the majority of people in the world speak more than one second language. These facts underscore the...
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