The effects of student identities on English as a foreign language learning motivation in a Saudi university context.

Feltman, Moegamat Yusuf (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : Motivation has been identified as one of the most important factors in the language learning achievement of English foreign or second language students. Moreover, identity is regarded as one of the most significant aspects of motivation. Both motivation and identity are complex ideas. Therefore, a robust theoretical framework is required to investigate their role in language learning. The L2 Motivational Self System (L2MSS) proposed by Dörnyei (2005) represents such a theoretical framework which considers the self as the focal point of language learning motivation. The L2 Motivational Self System involves the student’s ability to visualise him/herself as a successful English user in the future. The students’ efforts to learn English are driven by their desire to reduce the discrepancy between their present low proficiency selves and their future, ideal, desired selves that are proficient English users. The present study involves applying the L2 Motivational Self System to investigate the language learning motivation of Saudi university students. However, the present study identifies a need for the L2MSS to be expanded for more effective application to the learning context of the present study. The L2MSS is predicated on the primacy of the self in language learning motivation. However, it narrowly focuses on two self aspects, the Ideal L2 Self and the Ought-to L2 Self. The L2MSS overlooks the significance of present selves to the motivation of English language students. Therefore, ideas from the Identity Based Motivation theory and the Motivated Identity Construction theory are used to expand the L2MSS. Previous studies mainly utilised quantitative research methods which produced limited results. For that reason the present study employs a mixed methods approach. This comprises of students and lecturer questionnaires. Qualitative data collection methods are student interviews and an open-ended question in the lecturer survey. The main findings of the current study are that multiple identities are implicated in the language learning motivation of the students who participated in this study. The findings show that the Ideal L2 Self does not represent the ideal self of students in this learning context, but rather, it denotes the ideal self that others desire for these students. This conclusion is based on the fact that the communicative proficiency espoused by the Ideal L2 Self is not the driving force behind the language learning efforts of these students. They are rather motivated by their immediate academic needs and their future career aspirations. Furthermore, the current study establishes that multiple identities contribute toward their motivation to learn English. Among these identities the present actual identities of students are found to be significant contributors to their motivation. The current study also identifies a Western bias in the L2MSS in that it assumes that all those who learn English do so for the purpose of communicative proficiency because they need English to be functional in their everyday lives. The L2MMS ignores the primacy of the students’ L1 for this purpose. The same bias also overlooks the important role that duties and responsibilities play in motivating people as opposed to the individualistic notion of Western cultures that assume that people are motivated only by their own ideals and desires.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Motivering word geïdentifiseer as een van die belangrikste faktore in die aanleer van Engels as vreemde of tweede taal. In hierdie konteks word identiteit as een van die mees kenmerkende aspekte van motivering gesien. Motivering en identiteit is komplekse idees. ʼn Lewenskragtige teoretiese raamwerk is dus ʼn vereiste om hulle rol in taalaanleer te ondersoek. Die L2 Motivational Self System (L2MSS), soos deur Dörnyei (2005) ontwikkel, verteenwoordig so ʼn teoretiese raamwerk wat die self as die fokuspunt van motivering vir taalaanleer sien. Die L2 Motivational Self System betrek die student se vermoë om hom/haarself as ʼn toekomstige, suksesvolle gebruiker van Engels te visualiseer. Die studente se pogings om Engels aan te leer word aangedryf deur hulle begeerte om die gaping tussen hulle huidige self, met beperkte taalvermoë, en hulle toekomstige, ideale self, wat Engels vlot gebruik, te oorbrug. In hierdie studie word die L2 Motivational Self System (L2MSS) gebruik om die taalaanleer motivering van Saudi universiteitsstudente te ondersoek. Die studie dui egter op die noodsaaklikheid om die L2MSS uit te brei sodat dit meer effektief toegepas kan word in die konteks van die huidige studie. Die L2MSS is gebaseer op die gedagte dat die self primêr staan in taalaanleer motivering. Dit fokus egter net op twee aspekte van die self, naamlik die ‘Ideale L2 Self’ (Ideal L2 Self) en die ‘Behoort L2 Self’ (Ought-to L2 Self). Die L2MSS ignoreer die belangrikheid van studente se huidige self vir die motivering om Engels aan te leer. Daarom word idees vanuit die Identiteit-Gebaseerde Motiveringsteorie en die Gemotiveerde Identiteitskonstruksieteorie gebruik om die L2MSS uit te brei. Vroeëre studies het hoofsaaklik gebruik gemaak van kwantitatiewe navorsingsmetodes wat beperkte resultate getoon het. Daarom maak hierdie studie gebruik van gemengde metodes wat studente en dosente vraelyste insluit, met kwalitatiewe data in die vorm van studente onderhoude en ʼn oop vraag aan die einde van die dosente vraelys. Die belangrikste bevindinge van die studie is dat meervoudige identiteite ʼn rol speel in die taalaanleer motivering van die studente in hierdie studie. Die bevindinge wys dat die Ideale L2 Self nie die ideale self van studente in hierdie konteks weerspieël nie, maar dat dit ʼn weerspieëling is van ander mense se idees oor wat hulle ideale self behoort te wees. Dit is duidelik uit die bevindings dat die kommunikatiewe taalvaardigheid wat die Ideale L2 Self veronderstel, nie die dryfkrag is agter die studente se pogings om Engels te leer nie. Hulle word eerder gemotiveer deur hulle onmiddellike akademiese behoeftes en hulle toekomstige beroepsideale. Wat meer is, die studie toon aan dat meervoudige identiteite bydra tot hulle motivering om Engels te leer. Een van hierdie identiteite, naamlik die huidige identiteit van die student, speel ʼn betekenisvolle rol in hulle motivering om Engels te leer. Die studie wys ook ʼn Westerse vooroordeel in die L2MSS uit, wat aanneem dat almal wat Engels leer dit doen om kommunikatief taalvaardig te word omdat hulle Engels nodig het in hulle daaglikse lewe. Die L2MSS ignoreer die feit dat studente se eerste taal hierdie rol vervul. Dieselfde vooroordeel is ook duidelik uit die feit dat pligte en verantwoordelikhede ʼn rol speel in mense se motivering, eerder as die Westerse siening wat aanneem dat mense gemotiveer word deur ʼn individualistiese fokus op hulle eie ideale en behoeftes.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103654
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