Sunday, December 11, 2011


Motivation has been defined  by Keller (1983) as the magnitude and direction of behavior; whereas Garner (1985) in the Socio-educational model, stated that motivation is  a combination of  the desire to learn the target language along with a positive attitude towards goals and the effort to achieve them. Motivation is an individual difference that influences the process of learning a second language. According to Garder & Lambert (1972) highly motivated students are more likely to perform better and to actively participate in learning tasks than less motivated students. Moreover, Dörnyei and Guilloteaux (2008) stated that “without sufficient motivation, individuals with the most remarkable abilities cannot accomplish long term goals”.
In the English classroom, one of the roles of teachers is to be motivators, we have to constantly motivate our students and nurture that motivation through the learning process. Sometimes, learning a language can be a long and difficult process for some students and in these cases motivation can make the difference between succeeding or failing. In order to generate and maintain students´ motivation teachers need to make use of different motivational strategies which are defined by Dörnyei and Guilloteaux (2008) as: “…instructional interventions applied by the teacher to elicit and stimulate student motivation…” In 2001, Dörnyei produced a taxonomy that proposed a system of four dimensions to categorize the motivational strategies:
  • Creating basic motivational conditions: The teacher has to create a friendly and pleasant atmosphere, so students can feel secure and confident to learn. If students feel comfortable they will be more motivated to use the language and to participate. Besides, it is related to the relationship that teachers create with students during the lesson. At this point rapport has to be established by the teacher.

  • Generating initial motivation: It refers to the strategies that teachers can use to make student interested to learning the language. This can be done by preparing interesting and attracting lessons for students or by making emphasis on the benefits of learning the language.

  • Maintaining and protecting motivation: It means to stimulate students with enjoyable tasks or to provide students with opportunities for them to use the language with activities according to their level and capacity so they can succeed and have a feeling of achievement. This dimension is very important because sometimes even if students started the course motivated if we don´t nurture this motivation it can decrease; for example when we do not prepare our classes and we use only the activities from the textbook.

  • Encouraging positive retrospective self-evaluation: It emphasizes the importance of positive feedback, so students can know what they have achieved. Moreover, teachers need to teach students to be reflective about their own learning and to encourage self-evaluation.
Guilloteaux, M., Dörnyei, Z. (2008). Motivating Language Learners: A Classroom-Oriented Investigation of the Effects of Motivational Strategies on Student Motivation. TESOL QUARTERLY, 42, 1. Pp. 55-77.

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